While biking usually calls to mind the Dutch population biking through the narrow streets of their crowded cities, bikes are becoming more popular among students in the United States as well. Yet, bicycle culture and habits are far less developed in the U.S. than in the Netherlands; meaning that you actually have to pay attention to where you park your bike so it won’t get impounded by the police. Additionally, actual parking spaces for bikes tend to be few, even on campus, and getting a cheap pre-owned bike is a less viable option than in the Netherlands. Having said this, biking is a very quick and easy way to get around the city or campus. As such, it is rather unsurprising that B-Cycle launched its business in Madison, Wisconsin (and 22 other cities in the U.S.) counting on the just over 40,000 students in the city to be willing to rent bicycles to quickly close distances on the vast campus.
Indeed, Madison B-Cycle is a perfect example of a consumer driven value chain. The core concept is rather simple; Madison B-Cycle owns 35 B-Stations throughout the city and a total of 350 bicycles—at each station there are 10 bikes available. Subsequently, the customer can take out a bike from any of the stations and return it to the station of his choice. The real beauty of this business concept is that the stations are fully automated, run 24-7, and thus do not depend on any human interaction—except from the customer of course. In order for you to rent a bicycle, however, you need to have a subscription; the company offers either a 24-hour membership (for $5), a monthly membership (of $7.99) or an annual membership for $65. Continue reading Madison B-Cycle: Join the Bike Sharing!→
Ever since Robert D. Putnam’s iconic monologue—Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community—in 2000 on the reduction of civil participation and social capital in the United States there has been a lively debate on the state of the American participatory democracy. Dated before the social media revolution, Putnam’s work highlighted the social capital-eroding role of media in American society; interestingly, however, social media subsequently enabled the combination of media consumption and participation—no matter if this is for a personal, political, or commercial nature.
While the link between a participatory democracy and business might seem far-fetched to you, we need only to direct our attention to the commercially oriented Comedy Central TV network, and its political satire programs, to comprehend the inherent connection between political interest and political participation on the one hand, and commercial entertainment on the other hand. Although there is much to be said about the role of the entertaining programs as The Daily Show or the Colbert Report in American democracy, both programs arguably have found interesting way to spur social participation in the past—just think of “The Rally to Restore Sanity” a couple of years ago. The Daily Show, however, recently demonstrated its ability to foster participation—although certainly not in the way Putnam had in mind—while promoting the commercial goals of the network and its partners.
In March, the political satire program decided to use the concept of co-creation to maintain its presence and entertaining value over a small broadcasting break. Using a political campaign commercial from Senator (Rep.) Mitch McConnell, the Daily Show host John Stewart included a segment where the show displayed segments from this commercial on the tune of ridiculing music. Continue reading #McConnelling: Participatory Democracy & Commercial Co-Creation.→
Ever wished you could name your own price for a flight or hotel? For those who have the urge to secure the best deals Priceline.com offers the perfect platform.
While Priceline.com — yes, the one with the annoying father—daughter commercials — enjoys a well established position in the travel industry in the United States, parts of Europe’s mainland are still waiting for their own version of the “name-your-price” travel website. Hence, it is interesting to briefly consider the ingredients behind the success of Priceline.com in the U.S.
With services ranging from a car rental interface to cruise bookings, Priceline.com offers a platform for both professional and leisure travelers to connect with offering companies. While this is nothing special these days, the ‘name your own price’ function that the website boasts offers a unique opportunity to interact with the offering travel companies: it allows the user to set a price for a particular service. Continue reading Priceline: A Two-Way Price Interaction→