How social entrepreneurs can use the Business Model Canvas to build sustainable organizations

As I’ve mentioned before, I teach a social entrepreneurship class at a Chilean university. This week’s topic: how social entrepreneurs can use the Business Model Canvas. I came across this presentation by Alex Osterwalder (the architect of this methodology) on the exact topic, which is so fabulous that I’ve used it in class, and I’d like to share it with all of you. Thank you Alex for making this workshop available to the world!

How to Illustrate a Business Model {No real art skill required!}

Following yesterday’s post about the Business Model Canvas workshop, a few people commented that they don’t know how to draw.

I don’t consider myself much of an artist either, but I’d like to share some more sketches anyways, because I think they might be useful for anyone trying to explain a complex concept to a new audience (especially one with a short attention span… that means just about everyone!)

Erik showed us step-by-step how to draw people, as well as revenue sources (price tags), income sources (bags of money), buildings (boxes filled with right-angle 7s) and more.

Then he offered to sketch out the business models of people in the room.

One participant said that his company offers a benchmarking service for CIOs. Here is an illustration of his service. At first, the CIO is confused and thinking about how to help his company make money. Then four kinds of benchmarks land in his computer, for a monthly subscription. This makes him happy.

happy CIO and other sketches

It looks like I was sketching so fast that I forgot the letter e at the end of the word database.

Next we did a group exercise, in which one person described his or her business model, and everyone else sketched it, using the techniques we’d just learned.

I drew this picture to describe the work of a woman named Daniela, whose consultancy develops projects to connect citizens with government agencies and provide meaningful feedback on what citizens think of public services. I sketched Chilean flags, both on the building and in the citizen’s hand, to show that this is a national project. The 101010101010 combinations represent data. The magnifying glass represents research, and the smiles mean satisfaction. I drew the sun to represent the future, and the Santa hat and gift after she compared her work to nicely-wrapped Christmas presents for the government employees who are working on improving these services.

el modelo de negocios de la red de ciudadanos

Soon I’ll write more about the Business Model Canvas and how to use it. Stay tuned.

Every week, ask yourself: How did my business model change?

This morning I attended a fascinating seminar about the Business Model Canvas, presented by Patrick Van der Pijl, CEO of Business Models Inc and his colleague Erik van der Pluijm, who traveled all the way from Holland to Chile. Here is a photo of one page of my notes.

one flavor of business model is full of assumptions. customer development processPatrick referred to each version of a business model as a flavor (what a great word!) and Erik taught us how to draw efficiently and effectively, to communicate ideas more clearly.

The business plan, that traditional document with dozens of pages of facts and figures and projections, is doomed. A better approach is to create a prototype business model, and validate it through direct contact with customers, to uncover assumptions, turn guesses into facts, and see if clients are willing to pay. This is called the customer development process.

(Note: this concept comes from the Steve Blank / Eric Ries school of startupology. And no, I’m not the first person to use the word startupology.)

This post is the first in a series about the Business Model Canvas and ways to use it. Let me know if you have any specific questions, and I’ll try to answer them in the following posts. Thanks! 

How I Used Barnoculars + Slingshots to Explain Customer Segments + Value Propositions {Business Model Canvas}

In the last few weeks, I’ve presented several workshops at Chile Start-Up School, an extracurricular project started by a Start-Up Chile team from Norway. The students come from several different universities, and a wide variety of majors, including engineering, English, film, and many more.

The course is based on the Business Model Generation framework, which has become a bible for entrepreneurs everywhere. I’ve really enjoyed teaching the workshops.

For the initial class, my parents gave guest lectures too! Mom talked about strategies to learn from your customers. Dad talked about failure in Silicon Valley. And I talked about Chile and China (an abbreviated version of this talk.)

For the second class, we got into the real meat of the Business Model Generation framework. Here is a two-minute YouTube video that explains this canvas in a concise and visual way:

In this workshop, we discussed two main areas: Customer Segments and Value Propositions.  The definitions and some of the examples came straight from the book, but I brought in my own examples to put a fun spin on it.

I printed out pictures of fun gifts, such as…

Barnoculars. Image via

Image via Thank you Caitlin Davis for recommending this fabulous website filled with fun gifts for guys. My students thank you too!!

I also summarized my friend Jonathan Heeter’s post about his band’s Freemium business model on Slide #28.

Overall, it was a fun workshop, and I think all of the students got a really clear idea of customer segments and value propositions.

Here are the slides. SlideShare made the formatting a bit funky, but it should be understandable :)

If you are a teacher or workshop leader, you are more than welcome to use this lesson idea. Let me know how it works out for you!