The added value of online communities

Why do people join online communities and specifically what do they feel it’s the added value of such a community. For example, Facebook, it might give you information about diverse topics or it can make you feel more connected to your friends on a social level. The aim of Mina Seraj in the paper, We create, we connect, we respect, therefore we are: intellectual, social and cultural value in online communities, is to explore the main characteristics of online communities that are able to deliver value for its users.

It’s important to find out what these main characteristics are because then the managers of such online communities can implement these findings to make their communities more interesting and valuable for their users. Furthermore, if you want to create a community from scratch you know what factors are important to make it successful. Figure 1 shows some examples of reasons that consumers want to participate in communities.


Figure 1 CCDC2017 Lecture 6 09/03/2017 Dimitrios Tsekouras RSM Erasmus University


In contrast to other research, this paper focusses on qualitative research methods. They performed a  netnography, which implies that the author actually became a premium member of the forum, which was the subject of the research. is the most active aviation discussion forums focussed on aviation. It has more than 142000 paying members.  Being a participant observer, the author could observe the forum from the inside out and apart from that the content was analyzed and interviews were conducted with active members of the platform. Using a successful platform like to identify the main strengths of an online community is valuable for the research on this topic.

The results showed that the characteristics; intellectual value, social value and cultural value are the main factors that create perceived value. For intellectual value, co-creation of knowledge and the quality of the content are specifically important. The second main characteristic is social value, specifically platform interactivity through social ties on the platform. For example, there are 500 uploads of pictures and hundreds of posts every day on Lastly, the culture value is important. created their own specific culture with norms, values, rules and regulations and this drives participants to contribute and see the value of the platform.

The observations on resulted in the formation of seven roles of contributors that create the added value of the platform. These roles have an impact on the different perceived value characteristics and therefore are important to take into account when looking at your own community.

2017-03-10 (1)

Figure 2 Roles producing online community value

The most important conclusion of the paper is that the different characteristic should exist simultaneously to get the most value of the community. For managers, these finding could help them to create a strong community and understand the community to be able to deliver value to the members and receive monetary value in exchange. (Seraj, 2012)


Seraj, M. (2012). We create, we connect, we respect, therefore we are: intellectual, social, and cultural value in online communities. Journal of Interactive Marketing26(4), 209-222.

CCDC2017 Lecture 6 09/03/2017 Dimitrios Tsekouras RSM Erasmus University


The Central Role of Engagement in Online Communities


(noun) emotional involvement or commitment


You might haven’t noticed but in one way or the other we’ve all interacted on or with an online community. Whether it was while searching for travel routes, computer settings or in a fashion context. Chances are you read some posts until you found what you were looking for and then left the page without contributing. You are not alone in this, 90% of users never or rarely contributes, while 9% contribute 10% of the content and 1% contribute 90% of the content. This is commonly referred to as the 90-9-1 rule. But how can online communities encourage more people to create content and to help recruit others?

This was one of the questions that led Ray and Morris (2014) to conduct their research. More specifically, their goal was to introduce the concept of engagement, which drives pro-social behaviors in the context of open, non-binding online communities. Prior research has extensively recognized the role of engagement in communities, interestingly online community engagement has not been explicitly conceptualized, modeled, measured, or analyzed as a mediating construct in the information systems literature. This paper is the first to do so.

Building on Ma and Agarwal’s (2007) framework the authors propose a model that shows the central role of community engagement and how it relates to different outcomes (Figure 1). Data was collected from 301 users of online communities and structural equation modelling was used to test the proposed model. The developed framework recognizes that online communities are unique socio-technological environments in which engagement succeeds. In particular, members primarily contribute to and re-visit an online community out of a sense of engagement.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 16.04.04

The authors find that members must feel engaged with the online community to actually create content and that members who merely feel satisfied can still help the online community by saying things that might help recruit others. In addition, they found that self-identity verification (the extent to which the way you see yourself matches the way others see you) has an indirect effect on knowledge contribution through engagement. Furthermore,  this paper provide evidence that engagement also mediates the effect between knowledge self-efficacy (the belief that you have the ability and expertise to contribute) and intention to contribute.

The main strength of the paper is its methodology. The authors have applied several models and control variables to ensure valid results. The main managerial implication for community managers is to help members enhance their self-identity, which eventually will lead to more contribution. They can do so by creating signals for members either by letting them choose a badge themselves or by automatically creating signals from prior activities and achievements such as for example”300+ posts on Data Science”.

In conclusion, this Ray and Morris (2014) found evidence that merely satisfaction is not enough to encourage consumers to actively contribute to online communities, but that engagement plays a central role. To get back to the main question raised in the introduction, the key to promoting pro-social behavior (creating content and recruiting others) in online communities is to create the right balance of engagement and satisfaction.



Ray, S., Kim, S. S., & Morris, J. G. (2014). The central role of engagement in online communities. Information Systems Research, 25(3), 528-546.

Ma, M., & Agarwal, R. (2007). Through a glass darkly: Information technology design, identity verification, and knowledge contribution in online communities. Information systems research, 18(1), 42-67.

A central place for all your communities? Reddit is your go to!

A lot of people use online communities for several purposes. The primary reason is to connect to other people, may it be friends, family or people with similar interest. The latter reason has opened doors for the startup of many online communities existing only for a certain interest. These communities are scattered across the internet, dividing individuals across platforms that are close to their interest. However this leaves people, including myself having to jump from one platform to another to reach communities regarding different topics of interest. If I want to be kept up-to-date on technology, but at the same time want to be updated on new game releases and science, it would be easier for me if this information would be all in one place. One platform in particular comes to mind when thinking of a central place for communities: Reddit.

What is Reddit?

Reddit is one of the largest communities in the world with over 200 million unique visitors every month. It was formed in 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. It started out with focus on one community: programmers. Soon the platform turned into a place that people could consider a home for discussing anything, no matter how weird or niche it is. With over 7000 active subreddits it shows how the platform is truly used as a place where its users can talk about any topic. Companies often find their way to this platforms in order to engage with their customers, who have created a subreddit for discussion regarding particular brands, products or services or to monitor particular trends that often become apparent first within Reddit . As you can see, Reddit is a versatile platform.


Business Model

The main selling point of Reddit is its subreddits. Subreddits are user-generated topic creations to which other users can subscribe and discussion about this topic can take place. The users (Redditors) create a topic that is then upvoted or downvoted by other users and their opinion of the topic importance. The same system filters out the inappropriate comments from the conversation oriented comments. A few popular subreddits for example are: Science, News, Funny, Gaming, AskReddit etc. Within these subreddits users can create a headline related to the topic, share information, pictures, videos and exchange opinions with other users. Reddit keeps its users engaged by giving them the freedom to decide what they care about and to talk about what is trending for them instead of what the company thinks is relevant. Reddit drives their product by giving up control to the users. The communities appoint their own moderators and rule enforcers and steer their subreddits the way the users want  it collectively (ref). We have come to understand the main operation of Reddit as a community, but how is it monetized? Reddit is earning money in 2 ways:

 Selling advertising space (since 2009)

Reddit has been making money selling advertising space through managed or self-serve ads. Managed ads start at a price of $30,000 and self-serve ads start at a price of $5,00 cost per thousand. These ads are positioned in such a way that it is whitelisted by Google’s AdBlock and earned a non-intrusive status. However ads alone won’t be enough to monetize the platform due to its users potentially looking for alternatives if excessive advertisement takes place, hence why Reddit has not exploited advertisement to the lenghts that they could. Instead Reddit Gold was invented.

Reddit Gold

Reddit Gold is a member subscription plan that gives users premium features when purchased. The features include: removing ads, change Reddit themes, create a custom Reddit avatar, excluse lounge, awards, better comment and community management features and participation in beta-testing (Reddit, 2017). The membership plan costs $3,99 per month or $29,99 a year. In addition to purchasing Reddit Gold it can also be gifted to other users out of goodness or because they have contributed to the community in such a way that a user deems it fit to gift them Reddit Gold. Reddit’s goal is to rely on Reddit Gold for monetization by increasing features and subsequently help support the community as well.

Efficiency Criteria

Reddit creates value by joint creation and participation of user-generated contect. This value creation is not limited to a specific brand, product or service as this platform serves to create value for anything the users wants. As the users can use this platform to facilitate conversation about certain brands, games, technology, politics etc. or even facilitate exchange of products as a marketplace or facilitate a community for finding ideas as part of a company’s challenge, its limitations are far and few in between. Having introduced Reddit Gold, Reddit can profit from the platforms while enforcing ways of improving the platforms with user input, making sure the users and the company iteratively help each other achieve a better massive community which several parties can benefit off in creating more value.




A healthy body and mind is probably the most common answer, when asked what we wish for in our future. Getting seriously ill is of course something we hope to never become, however when faced with this situation getting diagnosed and treated appropriately seems rather logical. But, what if you’ve seen countless medical experts and no one seems to be able to help you? Introducing; CrowdMed.


The creators of CrowdMed understand that, due to an endless amount of different diseases and disorders, it is highly unlikely for any doctor to know every possible condition associated with a specific set of symptoms. To overcome this problem, they use patented crowdsourcing technologies and an online platform that aggregates collective intelligence and facilitates collaboration among medical experts all over the world. The combination of the crowd and advanced analytics helps solve these cases within just days! By using the wisdom of (and collaboration between medical) practitioners and providing personal reports, CrowdMed differs from other platforms such as PatientsLikeMe, HealthTap and iTriage.


So how does it work?

When signing up as a case solver you are officially named a “Medical Detective”. Medical Detectives do not need to be licensed physicians to participate, however CrowdMed does believe in evidence and science-based diagnoses and thus strongly prefers objective medical evidence. In order to actually be eligible for any monetary rewards you need a certain degree of “DetectiveRating”, which is based on a performance and credential-based reputation system. However, you can participate in diagnosing a patient without any form of relevant education. Even I, Nienke with one year of biology experience in high school could help you with your mysterious symptoms.

Patients are asked to fill in an extensive questionnaire when starting a new case. In addition, they need to upload all medical information, all of which can be done anonymously. The patient then decides how long the case will be online and how they want to reward the Medical Detectives, who helped solve the case. This is a based on a combination of points (which increases DetectiveRatings) and monetary compensations.

CrowdMed uses a prediction market algorithm to assign probabilities to each diagnostic suggestion based upon Medical Detectives’ previous performance and behavior. These suggestions are bundled in a report and provided to the patient after the case is closed. The report includes the top diagnostic and solution suggestions, solution details and patient conversations. The patient is advised to these with the doctor.


Joint Profitability?

When uploading a case patients need to pay a monthly subscription of $149 – $749 depending on the specific DetectiveRating degree of the Detectives they would like to work on their case. These amounts seem gigantic. However in the United States, where not everybody is insured, this could be only a fraction of the costs they otherwise would have paid when consulting with doctors on their own. After the case is closed, the biggest chunk is divided amongst participating Detectives and 10% stays with CrowdMed as a commission fee.  Because of the unique nature of CrowdMed (bringing numerous ‘medical’ practitioners together), it is unfeasible for patients to replicate the service without this mediating platform.

Some drawbacks, however…

Firstly, Medical Detectives do not need any medical background to participate and thus the reliability and quality of diagnoses may be questionable. Moreover, by using a prediction market model, diagnoses are based on non-transparent algorithms and thus it is difficult to assess why certain suggestions rank higher than others.

Secondly, when not satisfied with the outcome, patients do not get their money back. In my eyes this is unethical when working with desperate people, as CrowdMed’s only certainty is the fact that they will cash big sums of money regardless of the outcome. Thus, there is no incentive to ensure for high quality services.

Lastly, diagnoses made by the Medical Detectives do not guarantee for correctness nor do they guarantee for any therapy. This all depends on the willingness of the patient’s practitioner. So spending hundreds of dollars on uncertified/self-proclaimed physicians may get you nowhere in the end. However, possible complaints about quality or applicability of the reports are discouraged by an extensive list of legal compliances, member conducts, warranty disclaimers, limitations of liability and a medical service disclaimer. I suddenly feel symptoms of suspiciousness…



CrowdMed (2017, March 9). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from



The Future of Gamified Ad’s: AppOnBoard

For the first time in history mobile gaming has taken a larger share in the global gaming industry than the PC. Mobile gaming is expected to account for more than 34% ($52.5 bn) of the global gaming industry by 2019 (Newzoo, 2016). The market has become highly competitive and extremely saturated with large global players like Zynga, Tencent, EA Mobile etc. In addition to that mobile games are often given for free thus developers need to rely on creative monetization strategies. This thus requires active gamer engagement to recoup the cost of development. With plenty of choice in mobile games and low switching costs, developers are struggling to promote their apps. To eventually find out that users give up during the initial tutorial of the game.


AppOnBoard wants to change that, like the CEO Jonathan Zweig said “we want to take the tutorial out of the app, to the other side of the fence…. Before the app is ever downloaded” (Anthony, 2017). They have patent-pending technology that can create gamified in-game adds with chronological heat maps to track consumer behavior. This allows developers to see how consumers interact with their demo before the game is even completely developed. This aids developers, in turn helping gaming developing companies to weed out potentially bad app ideas.

The chronological heat maps is an integrated monetization boost for advertisers, as they can now sell of their ad space at higher prices because developers gain more analytics. Both sides of the platform benefits from running ad’s on AppOnBoards technology. Their tag lines surrounding their business model is “built by developers for developers”, and as such they state that they will be the next wave of app revenue.

The tool has been built by a team of engineers who have prior experience in building apps for over 200 titles in the App Store. The company has already signed up some of the largest game publishers including Zynga ($765 million Revenue) and Glu Mobile ($223 million Revenue).

Through a unique form of value co-creation made possible through this proprietary technology, developers can now generate better ideas and design through instantaneous feedback, whilst making ad’s more engaging and fun for consumers. Creating a customer centric approach to app game development.

For the complete story watch the following video!

Efficiency Criteria

Their are multiple stakeholders who gain from the new value system created by AppOnBoard. Under the joint profitability formula advertisers gain more money from their advertisement banners, developers gain more analytics and insights from their designs and consumers get more engaging and fun ad’s.

Under institutional arrangements, there are some judiciary implications, AppOnBoard will have to disclose and provide a “up-front explanation of what data is being collected, what they are doing with it, why they are doing and how long they will store it.” They would have to be communicate clearly to all stakeholders involved. This is required under the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. This might raise privacy concerns on behalf of consumers who used to have static ads and now are being tracked on their movement and user behavior.

Under social norms in terms of institutional arrangements, it is still yet to be seen how users will interact with these ads’. Users might find them intrusive over time, or they could simply stop interacting with gamified ads at all.

What do you think? Will app developers benefit from using AppOnBoards technology? And how will consumers respond?


New Zoo, 2016. “The Global Games Market 2016 | Per Region & Segment.” Newzoo. N.p., 21 Apr. 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Ha, Anthony, 2017. “AppOnboard Offers Fast, Playable Mobile ads.” TechCrunch. TechCrunch, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.





Design Your Way to Success: How Sellers on C2C Platforms Can Use Website Design to Stimulate Repeat Buys

Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) online shopping platforms like eBay and Alibaba’s TaoBao are some of the Internet’s most lucrative businesses in terms of both revenues and website visits – and yet they are also a fiercely competitive environment for the sellers who use them, with consumers often only becoming profitable after multiple repeat purchases (Chen, Huang, & Davison, 2016). The biggest threat to sellers’ e-commerce success? Badly-designed websites that send the message that the seller lacks credibility and service quality.

In fact, making a seller’s store or website appealing is essential in C2C contexts, where consumers carefully evaluate each seller due to their perception that shopping on C2C websites is significantly more risky than making a purchase on a traditional B2C platform (Xu, Lin, & Shao, 2010). With website quality being identified time and time again as a cornerstone of e-commerce success (Huang & Benyoucef, 2013), Chen et al. (2016) set out to explore how service, system, and information quality affect buyers’ economic and social satisfaction – and how relational capital (i.e. the relationship that develops between buyers and sellers on C2C platforms) can moderate the influence of satisfaction on repurchase intention.

Based on a survey of TaoBao shoppers, Chen et al. (2016) conclude that information quality (and, to a lesser extent, service quality) influence both economic and social satisfaction – and that, while economic satisfaction is the most important factor influencing repurchases, social satisfaction is only effective at increasing repurchase intention when paired with strong relational capital.

Figure 1. Chen et al’s (2016) model of how website quality affects repurchase intention

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 14.42.06

Key practical takeaways

The model that Chen et al. (2016) proposed and (for the most part) validated in their research is quite complex – the implications of their results, however, can be implemented relatively easily by sellers:

  1. Focus on information quality first, service quality second. Up-to-date and relevant content helps buyers navigate the seller’s site with ease and efficiency, and is the most effective way to increase economic satisfaction. Therefore, sellers should prioritise information content elements such as Q&A in order to stimulate repurchases. Service quality – i.e. the timely handling of shipping and delivery, as well as prompt and polite responses to any issues or questions – can increase social satisfaction, and should be the second area of focus for sellers.
  2. Economic satisfaction is a prerequisite for success, and it strongly influences the intention to repurchase. Therefore, sellers should ensure that their price-quality ratio is appealing. However, they should also be aware that price cuts and price promotions are easily copied by other sellers – and therefore should also invest in relational capital as a way to retain customers.
  3. Without relational capital, social satisfaction is not effective at increasing repurchases. Sellers should foster trust and mutual respect with buyers by ensuring that payments are processed fairly, that service and product quality are up to par, and by providing buyers with perks such as personalised greeting cards or small gifts/samples included in the packages. Over time, this can build relational capital and buyer loyalty.



Chen, X., Huang, Q., & Davison, R.M. (2016). Economic and social satisfaction of buyers on consumer-to-consumer platforms: the role of relational capital. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 21 (2), 219-248.

Xu, B., Lin, Z., & Shao, B. (2010). Factors affecting consumer behaviour in online buy-it-now auctions. Internet Research, 20 (5), 509-526.

Huang, Z., & Benyoucef, M. (2013). From e-commerce to social commerce: a close look at design features. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 12 (4).

Crowfunding in Real Estate

Investing into real estate
Investing into real estate has traditionally required large amounts of funds to even get started. While returns on real estate can in the long run be more attractive than investing in for example stocks, exposure to the market is lower for the general public because the barriers to entry are so high. The real estate market is currently on the rise again, and this trend can be seen in many countries. As an example, according to the CBS the price of existing houses in Amsterdam rose by 14.7% during Q2 of 2016. Moreover, the rise of crowdfunding is stimulating some interesting developments in the real estate market, especially with respect to investing possibilities for smaller investors.


Can real estate be crowdfunded as a form of investment?
Launched in 2012, Fundrise is a real estate crowdfunding platform that allows the “average” person to have to opportunity to invest into real estate projects. These projects range from pooled small investments such as a single family homes, to large corporate buildings. The platform has set a minimum investment price of $1,000 and allows its investors to start accruing interest on their investment as soon as a project is funded. The benefits from investing directly into real estate assets is that there are generally less fluctuations in returns (granted that the project goes according plans) and more transparency. In fact, in 2015 the average annual return for all the investments on the website was 13.1% (Forbes, 2015).


Efficiency Criteria
The platform is two-sided. On one side of the platform there are real estate investment trusts (REIT), which create portfolios by participating in the development of a variety of real estate assets such as hotels, shopping centers, houses and office buildings. On the other side of the platform, users (investors) can then invest into the real estate portfolios by essentially buying shares in these funds. Through this, the development projects are funded, built and eventually rented out or sold. Users can then earn gains or make losses depending on the success of the project pools in which they have invested. Users can however, not lose more than the initial investment that they put in.

As such, the platform creates a network effect in which the more users invest, the larger the pool of real estate assets can grow, and therefore the less risk to the users that they will lose their investment. The risks of real estate pools are defined clearly and are dependent on factors such as location, asset type, and structure. Users moreover have the chance to participate in redemption plans, in which they are able to sell back a certain amount of the bought shares to the respective REITs at the end of each quarter.

The business model behind the platform is relatively well protected against legal regulations. This is because it essentially deals in shares of the REITs to fund projects, rather than by providing a loan type structure. Moreover, users get a transparent view of the assets, structures, and locations that they are investing into. The one major downside of the platform is that your investment funds are essentially managed by an external management team, and are therefore dependent on their knowledge and execution. In this aspect, the user does not have the ability to exert direct control over the way in which their money is invested, which might not always be favorable.



Using a ‘healthy dose of guilt’ to achieve your goals

Over the years many different types of social online communities have gained popularity. It has allowed for individuals with widely differing interests to connect and interact with others that share common interests. Think of CouchSurfing, Facebook, Reddit, and SoundCloud, among many, many others. For those that are rather goal-oriented and keen on connecting with others that share a similar mindset, Linkagoal is the optimal social network.

Linkagoal is a social online community based on the premise of sharing personal goals and connecting individuals based on related life goals and ambition. On this social network users can engage with other goal-driven users. Besides sharing your own goals with the community, you can connect with members who can assist you in achieving your goals, or with people that are currently trying to achieve a similar goal. Linkagoal’s underlying belief is that barriers such as the lack of resources, guidance, experience, accountability, and encouragement, are what keep humans from reaching their goals. Thus, why not build an online community to make it easier for people to overcome these obstacles and achieve their ultimate goals. (ACN Newswire, 2014)

The online community takes on a simple, yet unique approach to foster goal-attainment of their users. Firstly, new members can create a goal and explicitly state what it is that they want to accomplish. Secondly, individuals are encouraged to share a post with other community members regarding their past and present events. The third aspect is called Progress Update, which entails that users keep the community up to date on their progress towards their goal. Fourthly, users are encouraged to create milestones, in order to help them stay on track. Moreover, members are expected to motivate others in attaining their goals. Furthermore, users can build their own mini-community by linking their goals to other similar goals. In addition, individuals can contribute to the attainment of other members’ goals by offering their knowledge and experience. Lastly, the social network offers a private messaging, so members can stay connected with their friends. (Linkagoal, 2017)

Despite their good intensions, Linkagoal has received quite some backlash for their claim that a ‘healthy dose of guilt’ provides ‘just the right amount of pressure’ to keep users on track. However, mental-health experts have condemned this approach, as they believe it could have detrimental effects on individuals. Furthermore, Linkagoal partnered with YouGov to explore drivers of motivation, especially regarding annual goals. They found that nearly 62 percent of social-media users feel a higher level of pressure to stay on track when others can see their progress. It is exactly this belief that experts find disturbing. Rather than ‘avoiding the negative, i.e. the threat of others knowing you have failed’, they believe Linkagoal should ‘encourage and reinforce the positive’. (Mail Online, 2016)

Nevertheless, the social network has a strong community base of over 2 million members, which is expected to grow even further. Therefore, the social network is primarily focusing on monetization, with the rollout of mentorship services, rewards, and goal campaign features in the near future (The Silicon Review, 2016). Furthermore, Linkagoal is available as an app on both Google Play and the App Store.

Who knows, maybe Linkagoal will one day join the ranks of Facebook or Twitter, only time will tell.


ACN Newswire. (2014). Linkagoal Secures $1.25M in Series A Funding. [online] Available at:$1.25m-in-series-a-funding [Accessed 10 Mar. 2017].

Linkagoal. (2017). Linkagoal | Share Your Life Goals. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2017].

Mail Online. (2016). Experts hit out at ‘guilt and shame’ goal share websites. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2017].

The Silicon Review. (2016). The Goal Based Social Network: Linkagoal, Inc.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2017].

Learning Never Stops With Top Hat!

These days everyone has smartphones, tablets and computers and they are constantly using them, anywhere, everywhere.. even in a classroom! When you look around a classroom you often see students sitting passively listening and taking notes on their devices and some are even checking social media or watching a funny video of a cat. The question thus arises:

How do professors get the attention of students?

This is where Top Hat comes in! Top Hat is an application that makes it easy for professors to:

  • Engage their students
  • Check readings
  • Take attendance and participation
  • Increase engagement and comprehension.

Top Hat takes those same mobile devices and turns them into engagement tools. Instead of texting friends, students use their mobile devices to interact with the Top Hat application. Top Hats value proposition is that it offers a complete education platform for inside and outside the lecture room for both the students and professors.

So how does it work?

Top Hat’s business model revolves around selling their product directly to professors and students by offering three products including Top Hat Marketplace, Top Hat Lecture and Top Hat Interactive Text which consist of pre-made content that offer a variety of media such as text, videos and interactive elements that help students study.  Through Top Hat Lecture professors can create a community for their students on the Top Hat platform and they can customise their classes making them more interactive and more engaging for their students.Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 15.20.13.png

Professors can upload their existing slides, create new slides in the platform or find expert course materials by other professors world-wide.  The Top Hat Market provides everything from presentation to question packs to course notes. At the beginning of the class, students enter a special code to confirm their attendance hence saying goodbye to pieces of paper going around the classroom. During the lecture the professor runs Top Hat right
from their tablet allowing them to walk around the class and mark up the slides  while students can view the slides on their devices. Top Hat makes it easy to engage new students in new, creative ways.  The discussion model on Top Hat allows the professor to question students, and in return students can reply either publicly or anonymously and rate their favourite comments. This way it boosts engagement especially for students who normally don’t participate. This is due to the ‘Online Disinhibation effect’, which is the tendency for people to say or do things online that they typically wouldn’t in the in-person world (Suler 321-326). Moreover, Top Hat also allows for on the spot quizzes. While students answer the quiz questions, Top Hat generates a report in real time on the results.  Moreover, Top Hat gradebook shows how the entire class is doing throughout the semester. This provides professors with up to date information on students complete coursework, their test scores and their attendance and therefore cutting administration time for professors.

Co-Value Creation within Top Hat

Top Hat is a win-win situation for both the professors and the students. Professors benefit from Top Hat as it is dependable, cloud based and provide cost savings. Moreover, professors co-create educational value by sharing their class materials and increasing the educational level.   On the other side, students also benefit from the platform as it makes the learning experience more engaging, more exciting, and more interactive. Students can participate in discussions, rate each other work and develop their knowledge by sharing work, opinions and ideas.Students also get more value out of their education and save around 80% vs. traditional books. By replacing traditional books with online content, less books are printed and used hence providing Top Hat a sustainable advantage. Moreover, Top Hat provides around the clock support through including instructional designers to help professors make their lectures engaging and educational.

Top Hat satisfied the feasibility of required reallocation criteria.  and covers several institutional arrangements. The key to success for Top Hat is both parties being actively involved in using the platform. Professors should solely use this form of sharing content with the students while contributing engaging content on the platform. In turn, students will be more actively involved in the platform and as well contribute more.

Say goodbye to the passive traditional learning experience and say hello to exciting, engaging and active classes! 

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 14.20.35.png


“Home – Top Hat”. Top Hat. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Suler, John. “The Online Disinhibition Effect”. CyberPsychology & Behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. Web.

Pay What You Want as a Marketing Strategy in Monopolistic and Competitive Markets

If you wouldn’t pay a fixed tuition fee, but were allowed to pay what you want (PWYW), how much would you be willing to pay for the course Customer Centric Digital Commerce? It would probably depend on your expected valuation of the course. However, would you be willing to pay voluntarily?

This is what Schmidt et al. (2015) studied

The authors studied the reasons why buyers are willing to pay voluntarily under PWYW and how competition affects the viability of PWYW. Below, the main advantages for sellers of PWYW are shown, with their corresponding results.

  • Advantage 1: Price discrimination: different customers pay different prices for the same product.

Buyers are willing to make substantial voluntary payments because of their own valuation of the product, the cost for the seller, and because of a strategic motive to keep the seller in business.

  • Advantage 2: Market penetration: maximize unit sales.

When the PWYW seller has a monopoly, almost all buyers buy his product. However, when there is also a posted price (PP) seller in the market, there is no full market penetration.

  • Advantage 3: Competition: drive competitors out the market with PWYWY.

When there is also a PP seller in the market, buyers have a reference price and therefore pay less to the PWYW seller.

When the market is not monopolistic, both sellers using a PP strategy is best. However, when one of them uses PWYW, the other seller is better off also using PWYW.

How did they study this?

They studied this by conducting a laboratory experiment, which is the main strength of the paper. Many field studies confirm that PWYW can be advantageous (e.g. Kim et al., 2009), but cannot explain why.

With a laboratory experiment, all variables can be controlled. Furthermore, the authors choose conservative design features. For example, no personal interactions, no complementary products, a fictitious product and no one observes how much the buyer pays. All these features make it easier for a buyer not to pay anything and therefore if buyers are willing to pay positive prices in the experiment, they are likely to also have a significant effect in real markets.

Managerial implications

There are several managerial implications.

  • PWYW is likely to be more successful for small shops and non-profit organizations.
  • PWYW is best suited for products with low marginal costs, that create high value for customers (e.g. museums, digital products).
  • Neighborhood shops are likely to receive higher payments than sellers dealing with customers only once.


From this, we can determine that a university has a possibility to succeed when applying a PWYW strategy. A university is non-profit, with low marginal costs and high value for students. Students are also recurring customers, since they take many courses. A university might even have a monopoly for certain courses, which benefits the university. However, students often do not have much money and prefer to spend their money on other activities.

Do you believe Erasmus University would survive with a PWYW strategy?


Kim, J.Y., Natter, M. & Spann, M. (2009) Pay what you want: A new participative pricing mechanism. Journal of Marketing. 73(1), 44–58.

Schmidt, K.M., Spann, M. & Zeithammer, R. (2015). Pay what you want as a marketing strategy in monopolistic and competitive markets. Management Science. 61(6), 1217-1236.


Travellr, the holiday match maker

One of the most difficult choices in life is: where to go on holiday? TUI, which is the largest travel company in the world, is aware of this huge dilemma. That’s why they developed an app called ‘Travellr’, which can be described as Tinder for holidays. This app helps (especially young) people to decide where to go on holiday, with a little help from the crowd.

So, they combine Tinder with holidays? I’m interested!

It’s very simple. When you open the app, you will see a number of holiday pictures. Just like with Tinder, you have to assess these pictures one by one. When you like the picture, you swipe to the right and when you don’t like it, you swipe to the left. The pictures that are shown are REAL holiday pictures posted on Instagram. Geotagging makes it possible to identify where these pictures were taken. After assessing a number of pictures, an algorithm makes a top 3 of destinations that matched your preferences. More information about the destinations is shown and it is even possible to book a holiday to this destination.

Travellr top 3

But why would I use this application?

Most people make decisions about their holiday destination by talking with other people or by looking on the internet. This app takes the decision making process to another level for the following reasons:

  • Travellr is an interactive and easy way to find some potential destinations. And because it’s mobile, it works very fast: two minutes of swiping is enough to get a result.
  • The crowd helps you by posting their holiday pictures on Instagram. And they don’t even know it!
  • It’s just fun to do. And pictures say more than 1000 words, so you don’t have to go through a bunch of travel websites which make the choice even more difficult.

Travellr info

Sounds like an innovating business model, what about efficiency?

Travellr meets the joint profitability criteria as both user and company (TUI) can benefit from the app. The user can easily find a holiday destination and they can book directly at TUI, which increases sales. Moreover, the fact that Travellr provides some information about the destination, makes it beneficial for both users and company (get people interested). Furthermore the feasibility is satisfied as all the photos are publically available, which reduces privacy issues. They even have a geotag which means that they have NOTHING to hide (well, almost then). This also implies that the judiciary and social norms criteria are met, as the name of the poster is also included in the picture, which means that there are no copyright issues.

Why isn’t it a gigantic success then?

Actually, I don’t expect that it will become a popular app in the long term. The app is more suitable to find some inspiration, it’s not likely that people will base such an important decision just on this single app, let alone booking it directly. It serves just as a promotional tool to attract millennials. But I have to say: it’s a good tool as it is fun to do. In the end, this is the goal of TUI and I believe that they will succeed in attracting a younger target group.


Crowd-based platform taking over the dinning industry


Most of the people have probably heard of AirBnB. AirBnB is a platform which has become a great competitor of the traditional hotel-industry. The platform gives home-owners the opportunity to rent out a room of their home. This offers tourist an alternative to the traditional hotels and bed and breakfasts. On AirBnB, customers can get rooms at sharper rates than they would get at regular hotels. Furthermore, the atmosphere is often different from hotels; you stay at someone’s home which is usually more informal and cosy than a hotel. On the other hand, the suppliers have the opportunity to take advantage of spare rooms. Therefore, you could say that this platform gives incentives to both sides of the market.

Taking on the example of AirBnB; there now is a platform which offers similar opportunities for customers and suppliers in the dinning industry. This new platform is called AirDnD; this stands for Air Drink´n Dine(, 2017). On this platform the suppliers are hobbyist cooks which offer a full meal, which can be enjoyed in their living room. As with AirBnB, the platform itself does not own any restaurant or home where the people can enjoy a meal. Rather, they function as an intermediary between hobbyist cooks and potential customers looking for a nice meal.

AirDnD is created with the goal making the passion and qualities of hobbyist cooks accessible to the public. (, 2017) This provides customers with a unique dining experience; due to the fact that the cooks are not professional and the dinner takes place in the cosiness of someone’s living room. On the other hand, it offers hobbyist cooks an opportunity to show other people how well they can execute their hobby. The cooks can get reckoning for their abilities without having to work in a restaurant. Through reviews on the platform the customers can get a look in the kitchen beforehand. This provides them with some sort of certainty about the quality of the food; just as you can read reviews about restaurants to get a sense of the quality provided.

Although the platform is relatively new, it seems to be a success already. Customers rate their dining experience with an average of 4.9/5. Currently, the platform only offers living room dining in the major cities of the Netherlands. However, if the experiences of customers will keep being this positive it will likely be a matter of the time until it is also offered in smaller cities.

The platform offers great opportunities to both sides of the market; hobbyist-cooks and customers looking for a nice meal. This platform has the potential to disrupt the entire dining industry, just as AirBnB did in the hotel industry. Therefore, restaurant-owners fear false competition of the hobbyist cooks.( , 2017) This seems logical as hobbyist cooks do not have the same fixed costs as restaurant owners do. In my opinion, the platform offers great potential and proves once again that crowd-based platform become increasingly important. Such initiatives will likely become more frequent as the role of ‘sharing economy’ is becomes bigger.

How Deutsche Bank Crowdstorms the Future of Banking with Jovoto

Artificially Enhanced Banking

Deutsche Bank is Germany’s largest bank and has big markets in all continents. It provides wide-ranging financial services and like all financial companies is increasingly using online technology to provide these. Deutsche Bank believed they could use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve their business, but did not know how and were spending a lot of money researching this. Deutsche Bank therefore chose to collaborate with Jovoto, a company providing innovation platforms, to establish a co-creation project that got the public to provide it with ideas about AI. (Deutsche Bank, 2017)

Jovoto helps organizations to innovate. They set-up and manage online spaces that gather ideas about different questions posed by organizations. By doing this, Jovoto allows brands and NGOs to carry out a ‘co-creation process’ – to brainstorm at scale and to work out design and innovation challenges with more than 80 000 creative professionals. Jovoto call this ‘crowdstorming’, essentially a form of co-creation where the public and a company collaborate to generate ideas.  (Jovoto, 2017)

Schermafbeelding 2017-03-09 om 19.15.17.png

How did Deutsche Bank through Jovoto carry out co-creation?

Deutsche Bank got Jovoto to create an innovation competition, challenging the public to submit ideas and offering rewards for good ideas (key resource and process). Jovoto posted the challenge ‘share your vision of how Artificial Intelligence can help Deutsche bank reinvent its customer service experience’ and promised the best idea would win awards and cash prizes – see video below for a glimpse of the challenge.



Jovoto managed this competition and vetted who could contribute ideas, making sure the input was only from professionals. Jovoto determined the institutional environment of the platform. They make clear that all users keep the copyright of their ideas.

This competition offered ‘joint profitability’, providing gains for the company and public. For Deutsche Bank, it was a way to get new ideas about AI without having to invest in Research & Development (R&D). For professionals, the competition offered an opportunity to collaborate with a multinational (which boost their reputation) and possibly to win money (customer value proposition). In reality Deutsche Bank benefits more and so it had to make the competition prize attractive to motivate people to participate.

From the information available, it is not possible to tell how many ideas in total were submitted. Deutsche Bank said they had acquired 25 good ideas, but did not publish what these ideas were. As such, it is difficult to evaluate how successful this project was.


In general, the project seems to have worked well for Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank clearly think it has been a success, because they have since done two more competitions with Jovoto. It should be noted that even though these projects may save on R&D costs, Deutsche Bank did have to spend money to carry them out.

Based on Deutsche Banks’ case, other companies should also consider using Jovoto to set up co-creation schemes. It allows companies to generate new insights from a wide range of experts around the world. The submitted ideas are in general of high quality (feasibility requirement is met) and therefore are of great value for the company. Using conventional R&D methods (which are more expensive) companies are unable to get so many inputs of ideas or such high-quality ideas.


Sources (2017). Available at: Accessed on 09/03/2017 (2017) Acessed on 09/03/2017


Impact sourcing by Samasource

For this third blogpost, I have chosen a company that has triggered my attention lately, it is called Samasource. According to Fast Company (2016), Samasource is one of the Most Innovative Companies at the moment. Personally, I agree mostly due to its social character. Samasource has the mission to fight poverty through offering work to unemployed people around the world. All in the company’s name as the meaning of Sama is equal in Sanskrit, and thus referring to a fair world. First, I will analyze the current non-profit business model of Samasource and elaborate on the unique social impact generated by the company. Then, the efficiency of the model is critically accessed, concluding with suggestions for further impact.

The business model is based on the concept impact sourcing also known as socially responsible sourcing. Processes that can be outsourced to Samasource are related to the structuring of unstructured data sets. The figure below clearly visualizes the steps taken when getting involved.

samasource process.png

In the figure, multiple parties can be identified in the process. Therefore, the most important stakeholders and their involvement are discussed. First, clients are well-known companies as Walmart, Google, and Ebay. I believe it is a strength that these brands are doing business with Samasource as it associates trustworthiness, a large responsibility, and fair pricing. The last aspect is assumed as these clients are commercially focused, and thus participate only when prices for acting socially responsible are interesting. Then, the employees can be divided into the organizational staff and world-wide executing employees. Interestingly, the Sama Group used to be divided into two divisions, namely Samaschool and Samahope. The first clearly explaining its purpose as it provides the opportunity to low-income American community college students to improve digital skills. The latter is less self-explanatory, but it was a crowdfunding platform aiming to fund life changing treatments for women and children. However, in December 2015 the platform got acquired by Johnsen & Johnsen and therefore, it is part of Caring Crowd now. This leads to the third party, the crowd. Currently, the crowd is still part of the business model, nevertheless, only in a very passive manner by donating.

On the one hand, I truly think this business model is an outstanding idea due to the long-term social perspective on improving lives by educating and offering jobs. Moreover, the benefit trade-off for employees and clients is very high. Especially, the non-profit strategy of the company indicates fair costs for conducting the service. On the other hand, I really believe consumer involvement could be improved as the contribution of this party is very limited. Examples of interactive and active participation of the crowd would be signing up for teaching digital skills or perhaps creating a triangle where small entrepreneurs could request their datasets to be structured, the employees will work for this, and third parties could donate the wages for executing this specific task (win-win-win). Additionally, political limitations could occur in case a country’s safety decreases, affecting the company’s practices.

All in all, I believe Samasource has a long-term solution to address poverty in an equal manner. And therefore, a great example for many!


Community pricing and product discovery: looking into Massdrop

Community first, that is the motto of online purchasing community Massdrop. Through that community, Massdrop and its customers determine the future strategy of the company. Massdrop was founded in 2012 and is an online retailer that specializes in letting its users buy products together.

Business Model

Massdrop’s business model is based on the principle of bulk purchasing power. Users of their website can subscribe to certain “communities”, such as watches, writing equipment, sound equipment or clothing. Within those communities, vendors offer specific products related to those communities for a limited time. These product offerings are called “drops”.  Massdrop users can then commit to purchase the product in that time, joining the “drop” of that product. There is a minimum number of users that needs to commit before a drop actually takes place. Furthermore, once a drop hits a certain target of users that committed to the product, the price is lowered for all consumers. Users can also submit requests for new products to be sold within the community.


This surmounts into two distinct advantages for Massdrop. They use the scale of their communities to ensure a minimum sales volume when a vendor sells their products via the Massdrop website. In return, the members of the community receive a discount on the regular sales price.

For every transaction that occurs through Massdrop, Massdrop takes a transaction fee. This fee constitutes most of Massdrop’s revenue. Massdrop also helps design and co-release certain products in collaboration with their top vendors, taking an even greater percentage on those sales.

To summarize, their value proposition in based around a common information strategy principle and two unique selling points.

  • Market making: facilitating product purchases through a platform
  • Price leadership: Offering unique price discounts for their communities
  • Sales Guarantee: A guaranteed minimum number of purchases for their vendors

Value co-creation

Massdrop’s entire business model is based around value co-creation. The company not only utilizes consumers for their purchasing power but also involves them in company decision making. Consumers can actively decide which new products Massdrop should try to get offered via the platform. This is also valuable for Massdrop, as it can gauge which products are in high demand. Using the value co-creation framework of Saarjärvi, Kannan & Kuusela (2013), Massdrop’s specific value co-creation elements can be determined.


  “Value” “Co” “Creation”
Customer (business partner) Customer benefit: Price discounts on products that they always wanted to purchase and unique items in the form of Massdrop exclusives Use of firm resources: Direct communication with Massdrop employees integrating decision making Integration mechanism: Through polling tools and customer forums.
Firm Firm benefit: The ability to offer vendors a guaranteed sales volume and the ability to determine beforehand which products consumers will like Use of client resources: Client commitment and client opinions to successfully attract new vendors to the platform Integration mechanism: Trough notices of purchase intent, textual feedback and product votes


Massdrop is a great example where value co-creation is used to gain unique advantages over completion and offer consumers direct ways to interact and participate whithin a company.

Further reading

Hannu Saarijärvi P.K. Kannan Hannu Kuusela, (2013),”Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications”, European Business Review, Vol. 25 Iss 1 pp. 6 – 19 Permanent link to this document:

10k steps a day and maybe love along the way

A recent discussion with a friend inspired me to share my thoughts on the dating applications market. Many are available but none has yet found the secret recipe to instant love.

Dating apps are common among the 22-35 years old looking for the perfect date that may translate in something more (Digitaltrends, 2017). The most known options are of course Tinder, Happn and OkCupid. But many more exist such as Bumble, Tinder Select or even Innercircle all with features differentiating them from each other; either empowering women to make the first move, or allowing only high end profiles to find each other. As none of them can guarantee finding the perfect love, many dating applications options have developed. This has led to apps specializing in matching people based on a very specific preference or interest. An example of such a niche dating app is Sizzl, which connects people who like bacon. Many of such specific dating apps exist, check this out to see some examples.

A new dating app that I would like to talk about here, is Lime. This app has not launched yet but is expected to launch in the coming days (Digitaltrends, 2017). Their offering matches the digital health hype cycle (KPMG, 2015) where activity trackers are increasingly adopted by consumers hence their proposition may target a large proportion of the community.

Lime matches users based on their Apple’s health or Google’s fitness data. They believe that similar activity levels will mean similar interests. It works quite simply: when you start the app, you can see who is walking around in the neighborhood and look at their respective profiles (a little bit like Tinder). Simultaneously, you can keep track of your own activity level and hence might feel encouraged to walk towards one of the matching profiles. The added feature is that you can see the number of steps he or she is away. Additionally, to tracking your own step count and see how meeting with others may enhance this number, the app allows you to invite others to meet up based on the steps he or she is away and consequently increase your number of steps for the day. Whenever the other accepts your offer you can chat to decide on the exact location and directly meet to grab a coffee or else and of course see whether you are made for each other.

The app has not launched yet so we do not know whether it will be a success, however I have some thoughts about it.

I really think that the matching based on the activity of the user may be a nice feature as people who are highly active throughout the day may also need to find a significant other which can keep up with such a high activity level. Same holds for people who are less active. However, I have my concerns about the instant meeting up feature. In theory, it sounds cool but I am not sure whether in practice it would work.

Primarily, I think that users will not necessarily meet up instantly. It is possible to talk to each other without having to meet right away. This is undermining the concept of the application but will certainly happen as some people may feel that they need to change their clothes, or freshen up before meeting up. Hence, I do not believe that the steps feature will be so unique that people would want to switch from a dating app such as Tinder or Happn to this one proposed under the name Lime.



KPMG, 2015. How is Technology changing Healthcare? | KPMG. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 March 2017].

Digital Trends, 2017. The 8 Best Dating Apps for 2017 | Digital Trends. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 March 2017].

Lime – Hyper local lifestyle dating App. 2017. Lime – Hyper local lifestyle dating App. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 March 2017].

Karissa Bell, 2017. Tinder is testing a secret version of the app for the rich, famous and hot. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 March 2017].

Minted, where great designs come from

 “Could crowd-sourcing design build an e-commerce company that stayed in tune with its consumer audience forever?”- Mariam Naficy, founder of Minted

Minted was launched in 2007 after the owner Mariam Naficy got intrigued by the idea that there was hidden creative talent around the world whose work was not accessible to consumers and that the Internet could help surface. Minted started with a save-the-date card design challenge in 2008 and the company has been expanding ever since. Nowadays Minted is an online marketplace platform of independent artists located in Jackson Square, San Francisco. The marketplace offers a portfolio of four different product lines namely: stationery, fine art prints, home decor and wedding decor. (Minted, 2017)

 “Our purpose in life is to uncover exceptional design from all over the world and bring this to savvy consumers who won’t accept anything else.” – Minted

According to Minted, great design lives and thrives in the hands of independent artists that people do not have access to through traditional retailers. Minted uses technology to allow consumers to discover great creative talent, making Minted a place where artists can learn, gain exposure, and build their businesses. (Minted, 2017)

To give you an idea, the video below shortly shows an example of holiday cards.

How it works

The value generation lies within the hands of Minted’s customers and artists for several reasons. First, Minted continuously organizes open design challenges for independent artists from all over the word. The idea behind these challenges it that every artist, upcoming or experienced, is able to submit his or her ideas (Customer Value Proposition). These design challenges take place within every product line and next to Minted, consumers can also request for a design within a challenge. Second, within these challenges, customers vote on the design submissions and thereby deciding the winning designs (key resource and process). These winning designs are then taken into production and sold on the Minted marketplace (profit formula). By using crowdsourcing for physical design purposes, Minted applies a co-creator model (Chui et al., 2016; Johnson et al., 2008 Minted, 2017)

In addition, their crowdsource initiatives go even further. Minted’s community supports the personal development, creativity, and careers of independent artists in the world. Minted’s community currently exist of independent artists that are located in all 50 states of the US and more than 60 countries. For artists, Minted builds their brands and connect them with other artists. Within the community, artists are able to express themselves in a unique way and learn from critiques of other artists and talented peers (Customer Value Proposition). (Johnson et al., 2008; Minted, 2017)

Efficiency criteria

With the current structure of the challenges and Community, artists, customers as well as Minted benefit from it in distinctive ways. As you will see, this business model results in joint profitability for all parties. Within the platform, every artist is able to get exposure to the world and can thereby grow its own name. Artist of the winning submissions even receive a portion of every sale, and they earn a store where they can launch and sell designs using the Minted fulfillment platform with no need to manufacture, ship, or provide customer service. Customers vote and can thereby give direction to which designs they would like to see for sale (i.e. efficiency benefit). Finally yet importantly, Minted benefits from all the votes and uploaded ideas because it gives them certainty that they produce the most desired furniture. also satisfies the feasibility of required reallocations criteria.  First, the polity is not directly involved. Second, terms and conditions regarding what is allows and what not need to be accepted by stakeholders before contesting a challenge and creating an account on Minted. In addition, they only take 50% of the customer payment at the time that the customer accepts the project proposal. Remainder is retained by customer until the final artwork is approved and Minted does not remit the final payment to the artist until the delivery of the artwork is confirmed. Thereby ensuring for safe payments. (Minted, 2017)

To answer the question that started it all: YES, Minted shows that with crowd-sourcing design you can build an e-commerce company and stay in tune with its consumer audience forever.

Chui, C., Liang, T. & Turban, E. (2016) What can crowdsourcing do for decision support?. Journal of Decision Support Systems, 65: 40-49

Johnson, M.W., Christensen, C.M. & Kagermann, H. (2008). Reinventing your business model. Harvard Business Review, 86(12): 50-59

Minted (2017). From Assessed at 07-03-2017

Messenger has grown. Now it’s time to monetize it.

Messenger, the free instant messaging service available on iOS, Android and Windows, is becoming more of a big deal. Both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are currently tied for the first place at one billion active monthly users worldwide.


At first, it seemed as a confusing value proposition by Facebook to push all its users to download a new, additional mobile app for the chat features of Facebook. However, in November 2014 after Mark Zuckerberg justified the decision to force users that use the Facebook app to download Messenger in order to get access to the chat feature of Facebook, it was quite clear that soon, Messenger would start competing with its rivals (eg. WhatsApp – although it is owned by Facebook, Skype) for monthly active users ergo market share.

We saw that the top messaging apps people were using were their own app. These apps that are fast and just focused on messaging. You’re probably messaging people 15 times per day. Having to go into an app and take a bunch of steps to get to messaging is a lot of friction. – Mark Zuckerberg

Messenger isn’t the only ‘extension’ app that Facebook has developed. The social media giant has also developed Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages Manager, Moments by Facebook, Facebook Mentions, Facebook Ads Manager and a couple of additional apps available on Google Play, Windows Store or Apple Store. However, Messenger is currently seems to be the only app that is has created a business model on its own, separate from Facebook. This notion was undoubtedly confirmed when Facebook announced to that you can Sign Up for Messenger without a Facebook account – all you need is a phone number. Additionally, as of yesterday, Messenger has rolled out Messenger Day, the chat app’s new Snapchat stories clone. After Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status, this is another direct competitive response from the portfolio of companies that Facebook owns, to Snapchats enticing young and audience that watches over 8 billion mobile videos on a daily basis. What a textbook example of platform envelopment – the process by which a platform in one market enters another market by combining its own functionality with the functionality of the target market’s platform features and is leveraged by the existing user base of the platform that is in the process of enveloping.

So what is the actual business model of this (optionally) standalone app?

Mark Zuckerberg is now in the second stage in monetizing Messenger and WhatsApp, however it is being extremely careful not to disrupt the user experience of such an app, which could deem destructive. In this second stage, Messenger has already developed over 33,000 chat bots for businesses. An example of a business owning such a chat bot us ENECO, the Dutch energy supplier that allows you to input your energy meter value via the Messenger app.

Such a feature essentially allows companies to automate certain processes or even customer service tasks within their business and connect with their audience via a more relevant channel. For users, it simplifies tasks, speeds up communication and thus increases the overall convenience. David Marcus, the VP of messaging suggested that Day will “probably” have advertisements in between posts, therefore creating a new cash-inflow source, similarly to that of Snapchat advertisements.

Users of Messenger are better off since they have access to a fast and reliable instant messaging app that is constantly growing with features. Similarly, companies can connect and communicate with users through this app either in person, or using chat bots (for the purpose of automating certain business processes). This can dramatically lower the costs for customer service activities and increase profits by focusing on revenue generating activities.

Additionally, Messenger targets consumers across all demographics that Facebook already does – This can then be leveraged extremely well, especially when introducing new features. However, this does not necessarily mean that Facebook can actually “steal” the particular demographic that its competitors have such as in the case of Snapchat, that currently is a leader in terms of engagement for 13 to 18 year olds.

Given the nature of the app (instant messaging), there will be a lack of conflicts of interest in regards to political or social factors. However, the feature cloning that Messenger is actively engaging in can definitely bring up legal conflicts, particularly with Snapchat. However, till this day Snapchat has not sued Instagram of Facebook – yet.

Selling couldn’t be more easy- just snap, list and sell on Carousell!

Have you ever tried selling things you don’t need anymore online? You need to go to an online shopping website like eBay or Amazon, create your own profile and start posting all the products you want to sell. When a transaction is made, it’s very likely that you need to pay a fee to the website. You think that’s easy enough? Now there is an even easier way for you to sell things just on your smartphone by using Carousell.

About Carousell: What is Carousell?

Based in Singapore, Carousell is a mobile classified app which provides an C2C online marketplace for its users to buy or sell things on their iOS or Android devices. Carousell wants to make selling and buying online easier. Launched in 2012, Carousell has been working on improving user experiences and providing better services. Sellers on Carousell can sell things simply by taking photos of the item, listing it on Carousell and then selling it without any expenses or extra fees. Buyers can search for things they want simply by scrolling down the Carousell app. Once they find something, they can chat with the seller immediately and make the transaction as soon as possible. Until now, Carousell has become one of the world’s fastest growing online marketplaces. We can see Carousell providing services in 13 cities with over 41 million listings, including a diverse range of product categories like fashion accessories, lifestyle gadgets, and furniture.


Business model: How does it work?

Carousell provides a platform, a C2C online marketplace for its users to sell and buy things just with a few simple touches on their smartphones. There are two types of users on Carousell: sellers and buyers. Sellers take photos of the items they intend to sell, list them on Carousell and wait for buyers’ inquiries. Once buyers find the ideal item, they can send a private message to the sellers and discuss about the detail. Carousell doesn’t charge any fee on either seller or buyers regarding all the transactions. The service is completely free. However, how do Carousell make money? At first, Carousell is backed by international Venture Capitalist like Rakuten Ventures, 500 Startups and Golden Gate Ventures. They don’t charge users any fees because they are more focusing on growing its user base and market share. With more and more users using Carousell, now they are looking for ways to monetize their services. By making money through paid advertisements and premium services for users, Carousell is trying to generate revenue without the help of venture capitalists.

Efficiency Criteria

Carousell creates value and achieves joint profitability with its users. Sellers can get rid of the things they don’t use anymore or sell products on the platform Carousell provides, without paying any fee. Buyers can get what they want with an affordable price. C2C commerce no longer has to be processed by computers or laptops. All the product inquiries and transactions can be done on their mobile phones. Carousell not only provides a marketplace where people can trade, but also offers convenience so as to reduce the time and effort people spend. Meanwhile, users also give value to Carousell by creating a bigger user base. With a bigger user base, Carousell have more data for big data analysis and can sell advertisements to make a profit.


Tan, C. & Ming, C. (2016). Classifieds app Carousell exploring premium listings, services to bring in revenue. Retrieved from: on 2017/3/9

Russell, J.(2016). Southeast Asia-based Carousell raises $35M for its social commerce app. Retrieved from: on 2017/3/9

Making Money in Making Playlists

In the current streaming industry, it is very hard for startups to fight against the giants like Spotify and Apple Music. Moreover, it is almost impossible to maintain a music streaming company. This is also what the founders of ran into. These two entrepreneurs started their business in 2013 while they were studying and founded a platform that transformed links to music into playlists. They soon found out that they did not have an efficient business model; their revenue model did not work properly. It was too hard to offer the service in a profitable way.

When the founders hit rock bottom, they encountered one of the frequent users of their service. He told them that he was a dj and made money from developing the playlists for coffee rooms in Amsterdam. This gave the founders new motivation. They went from shop to shop in Amsterdam and did market research about the shops’ music facilities. Eventually, the founders came up with the idea of Atmosphere, which is a service that connects shops and hospitality businesses to musicians. For a 15% commission, Atmosphere makes sure that the shops get personalized playlist which match the brand image of the companies. In this way, the company was able to make money from making playlists. However, the requirements to join the platform are strict. Only unique music curators are allowed to develop the playlists, since the company wants to maintain its high quality service. The main goal for the coming period is a collaboration with an establish jazz musician or dj, in order to raise more brand awareness.

Nowadays, approximately 20 firms are already using Atmosphere. The customers vary from supermarkets to restaurants, from clothing stores to work spots spread over more than 100 locations. The fee for the service is €30,- on a monthly basis which can be extended with €15,- for an offline streaming cabinet and for €300,- extra the company develops a custom-made website for their clients which contain all of their playlists.

Efficiency criteria

  • Currently, retailers are trying to distinguish themselves from competition by creating a clear brand image. The in-store experience is very important for customers. In developing customer centric playlists, the companies establish their brand image. This is an important strength in the business model of Atmosphere.
  • Streaming music in shops is not free, the retailers have to pay a licensing fee for copyrights. Atmosphere is aware of this legal aspect and even anticipates to this by offering their clients the service to arrange this for them to avoid difficulties.

In conclusion, I think that Atmosphere has a bright future ahead. The perseverance of the founders seems to pay off and as the company raises more awareness, the customer base will continue to grow. The streaming business will keep rising and Atmosphere must try to rise along. If the company succeeds to eventually found a community to collect playlists, the possibilities are endless.


Tsekouras, D. (2016), Lecture 1: Introduction to value co-creation, Rotterdam School of Management.