The Weekender: Start-ups in Chattanooga, a fuel heist + a secret Target app

Spotlighting what you might have missed on BirdDog and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.

The Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga. Photo by James Gillespie on Unsplash



New: Highlights, lowlights and advice from successful Nashville entrepreneurs for people trying to build a company

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Get Covered Tennessee braces for ‘huge impact,’ possible layoffs as HHS cuts navigator funds


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1. Target has a secret app for superfans, and it looks like Instagram

Mark Wilson, Fast Company

The app, Studio Connect, falls at the heart of exclusivity and rewarding loyal customers. Shoppers have a staggering array of options so this seems like a novel way to affirm loyalty among the repeat customers on whom you depend.

App users are limited to “600 members (that’s 0.002% of its 30 million weekly shopper base)” and they get to interact with designers to brainstorm and test out products — which are required to hit shelves on tighter timeframes than ever before.

It’s astounding to think about what Target is learning from inviting a tiny fraction of its shoppers into its process:

Excerpt: Scanning through the submitted photos of drawings, Target’s designers quickly realized that many children were designing leggings that featured a surprisingly similar funky print. It was like children had a vision for their own clothing that had never been realized, and that vision became a theme that the designers pulled to develop new garments.


2. Study: Hospitals may not be ‘gobbling up’ physician practices

Paige Minemyer, FierceHealthcare

Sayeh Nikpay, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University’s Department of Health Policy, talks about what factors could be driving the acquisitions of physician groups by hospitals. Nikpay and other researchers published a study in Health Affairs looking at the acquisitions between 2007 and 2017.


3. Why it matters if we become innumerate

Adrienne Bernhard, BBC

Reliance on technology threatens to undercut people’s understanding and use of numbers. The BBC article points out how frequently math is used in situations ranging from assessing sofa dimensions to quickly estimating how much money remains in a bank account.

Math permeates every day life but tech reliance means fewer people could see value in learning, or maintaining, those skills even when it means calculating pay, discounts or how much medicine to take.

Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. struggle on math scores compared to OECD countries (see a Pew Research graphic).

Read more:

Pew Research Center: Half of Americans think young people don’t pursue STEM because it is too hard

Mad (Data) Scientist: Innumeracy, Statistics and R

BridgeBizSTEM: Numbers: America Also has an Innumeracy Problem


4. Hackers Reportedly Stole 600 Gallons of Gas From Detroit Gas Station

AJ Dellinger, Gizmodo

A jaw-dropping read — at least to me, though admittedly I’m not a cybersecurity expert — about how software vulnerabilities can be manipulated to steal actual, physical gasoline.

If you want smart, digestible coverage of cybersecurity follow Brian Krebs of Krebs on Security on Twitter. I’ve never thought for an instant about unfollowing him.


5. Chattanooga, Tennessee has found a way to reinvent itself as a startup center of the South

Richard Feloni, Business Insider

A spotlight on Chattanooga’s bustling, young start-up culture that’s attracted the attention of AOL cofounder Steve Case, and has added a layer of economic vitality into a city that’s bloomed after years of stagnation.

In other Tennessee city news, Nashville’s on-going existential question about its future cropped up in Governing, written by John Buntin: 

Musing City: What kind of place does Nashville want to be?