“What does it cost to sit there for a day?” “Nothing.” “Why? Do you pay for the Wi-Fi then?” “No, Wi-Fi is for free.” “Then you’ll definitely pay too much for the coffee?” “No, you pay nothing. Even a full lunch is included.” “What? How do they earn their money then? There is nothing free in this world!”
This is the kind of the conversation I had with a friend of mine, that tried to explain the concept of Seats2Meet. Of course, Seats2Meet is not really a concept for poor students looking for a free lunch, but what is then?
The concept of seats2Meet is actually not about money, but about social capital.The idea revolves around the growing group of self-employed professionals that still want to work with you, but not for you. Seats2Meet calls them ‘Knowmads’, being people that are no longer bound to traditional organizations, but organized their professional careers around a (virtual) social network. These people want to engage with potential stakeholders, for exchanging information and knowledge, which eventually could lead to doing business together. These contemporary networks, are called ‘Mesh-Networks’ and to create these networks, virtual and physical locations are required. Seets2Meat facilitates these physical and virtual locations and here professionals can work, meet, exchange information, create new products and services and add value to each other’s work (Saarijärvi et al., 2013). Of course money needs to be earned to keep the story of Seats2Meet going, and therefore people have to pay for hiring meeting rooms. However, this is also being done differently, since you do not pay for the room, but for the number of seats you need.
The reason behind these ‘Mesh-Networks’ facilitated by Seats2Meet and Mindz.com, is the creation of a social community (Batemen et al., 2011). That the community is a success is shown by the ten thousands visitors of Seats2Meet locations, and the almost hundred thousand members of Mindz.com. The aim is to blur reality and virtuality to what they call the creation of a ‘3rd Space‘, which represents a place where key-stakeholders like to hangout, can meet and potentially add each other to their own Mesh-Network. (Olma, 2012).
The whole idea is based on the concept of using a platform to offer the opportunity for co-creation of value and the creation of a community (Eisenmann et al., 2006; Saarijärvi et al., 2013). It is an example of what is discussed by Carson (et al., 1999), how institutional arrangements and social elements can be used to tie together the joint profits, resulting in a special form of efficiency. The participation of the community can be explained by the great commitment the community members of Seats2Meet have (Batemen et al., 2011). This commitment is the result of Seats2Meet facilitating these self-employed professionals to fulfill their needs and provide them with the technical as well as social requirements.
The Long Tail, is a term used to describe the “rise of the niche”, where low-demand products/services collectively can acquire a bigger market share that exceeds the relatively few industry blockbusters (Brynjolfsson et. al., 2006; Anderson, 2008). The concept of the long-tail can be used to describe where the business model of Seats2Meet revolves around. Seats2Meet does not focus on the huge meeting-room bookings from a small set of clients, but on the often fragmented smaller bookings from mostly self-employed professionals. They believe that the value of the place where these self-employed professionals meet, further can be leveraged by connecting the dots and support the professionals by the creation of the earlier discussed ‘Mesh-Networks’. In this way, the long-tail, is formed in what they call the ‘Long-Snout’. Here, you do not evaluate the value on the basis of the individual client, but on the value that is created by connecting these fragmented smaller clients (van den Hoff, 2011).
It’s a pretty cool idea, don’t you think? So now after reading this blog, what do you think; who would be in your Mesh-Network?
- Link to more information about Seats2Meet
- Anderson, C. (2008). The long tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more. Hyperion.
- Bateman, P. J., Gray, P. H., & Butler, B. S. (2011). Research Note-The Impact of Community Commitment on Participation in Online Communities. Information Systems Research, 22(4), 841-854.
- Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999). Understanding institutional designs within marketing value systems. The Journal of Marketing, 115-130.
- Eisenmann, T., Parker, G., & Van Alstyne, M. W. (2006). Strategies for two-sided markets. Harvard business review, 84(10), 92.
- Olma, S. (2012). The Serendipity Machine. A Disruptive Business Model for Society 3.0. Creative commons. Link to the book.
- Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P. K., & Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review,25(1), 6-19.
- Van den Hoff, R. (2011). Society 3.0. Lindonk & De Bres. Link to parts of the book