Category Archives: Business Case

Fon: sharing your Wi-Fi

Introduction: the rise of the sharing economy

Nowadays, the sharing economy has become a worldwide phenomenon. It has come in many different forms, in many different industries. One can share, exchange, trade, swap; one can do this with cars, housing, clothing, etc. (Habibi, Davidson & Laroche 2016). Many startups are creative in continually thinking of new ways to participate in the sharing economy. Well-established companies in the sharing economy, such as Airbnb, Uber and Zipcar, can be used as an example by newer startups; either by following them in what has gone well, or by being cautious in what went wrong for them in the past.

Industries that can be innovated in, by utilizing the sharing economy, seem to be endless. As such, a startup called Fon, is a pioneer in Wi-Fi sharing, managing 21 million hotspots globally (Fon Wireless, Ltd., 2018). You might have already seen this name in the past, either consciously or unconsciously, in the list of the Wi-Fi signals on your phone, laptop, tablet, or any other device. Actually, as I am writing this post, there is currently a Fon signal on my laptop.

Schermafbeelding 2018-03-11 om 19.38.01

In the Netherlands, Fon has partnered up with KPN (Fon Wireless, Ltd., 2018). But partnerships are just a part of Fon’s business model. Are you interested in getting to know more about what Fon exactly is? Then continue reading.

Fon: a wireless network

So, what exactly is Fon, and what does it do? Fon is a wireless network, aiming to create a global network of wireless access to Wi-Fi, based on Wi-Fi routers, that members should own and share with one another. There are two separate ‘signals’ coming from Fon’s Wi-Fi router, the Fonera, where one is meant to be used by the owner of the router, and the other is meant to be used by the members of the Fon community, who are in the neighborhood looking for a Wi-Fi signal. Due to these separate signals, privacy issues do not pose a concern. (McGarry, 2013)

One can buy the Wi-Fi router from Fon’s own branded routers, the Fonera, offering free lifetime membership, but most of the hotspots provided by Fon are coming from the partnerships it has with broadband providers. As mentioned earlier, for example in the Netherlands, Fon has partnered up with KPN (Fon Wireless, Ltd., 2018).

The Fon for members app

To enhance convenience for its customers, Fon has also created an app for its members, offering several utilities. This app is not available in all countries, so to partly overcome this issue, Fon has set up other versions of the app for which they collaborate with other brands. On the app, members can, for example, check their own profile, and open a map that shows all available hotspots in the area. (Fon Wireless, Ltd., 2018)

What about its revenue model?

Interestingly, Fon is a not for profit company (Schriber, 2018). When purchasing a router, you become a member and you pay the price of the router, after which you are offered free lifetime membership. The Wi-Fi sharing of Fon is enabled by the software it has developed.

Fon is continuously aiming to expand, however this has unfortunately not been easy in every part of the world (Ricknäs, 2015). Its strategy to expand is often via partnering up with local broadband providers. In January 2014, Fon raised $14 million in funding, which it wanted to use for expansion in the United States. However, expansion in the United States did not seem easy for them (Ricknäs, 2015).

One drawback of the service is its limited Wi-Fi signal, making the service better suitable to dense, urbanized areas (Jackson, 2016). As such, have a look at the map below, where it can be seen that the service is much more used in denser countries, such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Schermafbeelding 2018-03-11 om 20.41.02.png

Nevertheless, if Fon mostly focuses on denser, more urbanized areas, it can definitely remain a strong player in the market. In current times where data usage is continuously increasing and access to the Internet is almost becoming a hygiene factor in developed countries, Fon can fill a gap in the market, as constant access to Wi-Fi is not yet globally covered.

A factor that Fon has to take into account that could work against them, is the increasing global availability and the reducing costs of data on your phone. For example, roaming within Europe has recently become free of charge (Europa, 2018). This causes less people searching for a Wi-Fi signal, because they might just as well use the data on their phone.


Europa. (2018). Roaming in the EU. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018]

Fon Wireless, Ltd. (2018). Fon is the global WiFi network. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018]

Habibi, M.R., Davidson, A. and Laroche, M., 2017. What managers should know about the sharing economy. Business Horizons, 60(1), 113-121.

Jackshon, M. (2016). 1 in 3 Home Broadband Routers to Double as Public WiFi Hotspots by 2017. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Mar. 2018]

McGarry, C. (2013). Sharing with strangers: Fon wants to be the Zipcar of Wi-Fi. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018]

Ricknäs, M. (2015). Fon keeps adding WiFi Hotspots but struggles to crack the US. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Mar. 2018]

Schriber, B. (2018). Understanding Fon Wi-Fi Hotspots. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Mar. 2018]


Werkspot: being the connector

Werkspot, in English meaning ‘Taskspot’, is an online platform that connects people with tasks that have to be done around the house and then connects them with suitable craftsman. But how does it work exactly? Imagine that your wall needs to be plastered and painted. You do not possess the right equipment and/or maybe not capable of doing it in a proper manner. Here comes Werkspot, where you can place this task on their website or application. Werkspot informs the registered craftsmen, after which they can reply on this task. The man or woman who needs this job to be done, can then contact the craftsman who came with the best deal, based on i.e. price, experience or their reviews. After this connection it is a matter of (little) time before the task is executed. The tasks vary a lot from placing simple fences, to whole kitchens or bathrooms.

Nowadays the company has completed over 2 million tasks, by more than 8000 craftsmen, who are all certified at the chamber of commerce. Homeowners have left approximately 237000 reviews from the start of Werkspot in 2005 until now and employs 60 people  (Werkspot, 2018). Werkspot include both reviews and ratings on their platform, which give an indication of the quality of the particular craftman. The better the customer rating, the more a craftsman could ask for his work, comparing it for example with hotels in London and Paris, which get 2,68% more revenue per room in case of an 1%  increase in customer ratings (Ogut & Tas, 2012).

Due to this interesting business model and a constant growth of the company, they arouse interest from other parties, which resulted in a takeover in 2013 by the American company called HomeAdvisor, which is part of IAC, a multi-billion revenue concern. This meant that the company searched for ways to enlarge their market, after which they decided to go international. In 2014 they chose to enter the Italian market, above all Milan, and with a focus on painting. In the beginning they decided to continue with their own name in Italy, as a North-European connotation gives the idea of quality and solidity in Southern Europe (Boogert, 2014). This name worked in Italy, in which they have 2000 tasks to be fulfilled on monthly basis, versus 25000 in the Netherlands. However, in 2015 Werkspot still made a pronouncement to change their name, to the name called InstaPro (Boogert, 2015). With this name they think it would be better to expand, without creating confusion.

By being the connector between households and craftsmen, Werkspot earns money by mediating between these two parties. With a 30% earnings increase yearly they are fastly growing. In two year, their top-of-mind awareness grew in the Netherlands from 6% to 14%, whereas the brand awareness grew from 22% to 50%, meaning that 1 out of 2 Dutch people know the company now. Due to the fact that Werkspot just started in 2017 with radio and television campaign, the idea is that this will increase even more rapidly (Mirck, 2017). In Italy they are busy trying to create this same improvements.

Next to that, I think it is also important to mention that the company also contributes to society. Being sustainable and socially involved become more important these days for companies; Werkspot adopted a concrete project in Cameroon, where they educate young people to become a craftsman. Afterwards, they receive their own tools to be a craftsman in practice. With a shortage on craftsman education and tools in Afrika, this is a nice way of Werkspot to contribute something extra to the world (Geredgereedschap, 2018).

This company is getting bigger and bigger, they are hard to copy due to their already established (size of) platform and they are also taking their environment into account. Altogether, a bright future in the horizon in my eyes.


Werkspot (2018) Retrieved from at 10 march 2018.

Ogut, H., & Tas, B. K. O. (2012). The influence of internet customer reviews on the online sales and prices in hotel industry. The service industries Journal

Boogert, E., (2014). Retrieved from at 10 march 2018

Boogert, E., (2015). Retrieved from at 10 march 2018

Mirck, J., (2017) Retrieved at 10 march 2018

Retrieved from at 10 march 2018connect

Udemy – A look into online-learning and commerce platforms

In a constantly evolving world, mediated by drastic improvements in technology, universities are falling behind in offering students skills that are in-demand by employers. In an attempt to bridge the educational gap, online learning platforms have appeared in the last 6 years each with the same goal: providing students with in-demand skills and knowledge that is sought by employers. In this article, we analysed Udemy, one of the many online-learning platforms that are available to consumers.



Udemy is an online learning platform founded in 2009 with the goal of enriching people’s lives through learning. With its headquarters in San Francisco, California, Udemy boasts over 65,000 courses in an ample number of fields – from technology, graphic design, video production to self-branding and entrepreneurship. Rather than offering academic courses, Udemy offers skill-based courses from individuals. Udemy allows virtually anyone with a webcam to set up a course on their platform. What drove the steep increase in courses from 2009 up to 2018, are the monetisation opportunities offered on the platform.


The industry

Udemy operates in the online-learning market, characterised by multiple platforms offering massively open online courses (MOOCs). The online-learning industry has risen into prominence in 2012, with platforms like Coursera, EdX and Udacity all launching in this year. The online-learning industry is characterised by online platforms that provide educational content through multimedia tools, such as smartphones or laptops. A primary characteristic of online e-learning platforms, is exponential scalability. While conventional institutions are constrained by classroom sizes, online courses can host hundreds of thousands of students (Coursera for examples sees an average of 43,000 students enrolled in a given course), that can take the course from any location at any time. Another key identifying characteristic of the content offered in the e-learning industry is flexibility. Students follow the content at their own pace, allowing for a more customised learning experience.

The online learning industry can further be narrowed into more distinct sub-sections. Three of the most notable sub-markets are mobile learning (characterised by learning primarily on smartphone devices), Online Corporate Training (characterised by online resources offered by third-party instructors or experts) and MOOCs in Corporate Training (online resources created by a company’s employees to facilitate knowledge share across business units and functions).


Udemy’s Business Model

Udemy offers a wide array of courses taught by instructors. Virtually anyone with a webcam and a laptop can sign up as an instructor and create a course. As such, Udemy can be seen simultaneously as an online-learning platform and an online marketplace. This section will analyse Udemy’s business model as two separate entities – as an online-learning platform and as an online marketplace.

Udemy employs a pick-and-pay business model, whereby users view courses offered on the platform, make a decision and pay for the chosen course(s). In an attempt to facilitate the decision-making process of their users, platforms under this pricing model offer their users previews of the courses before they make the purchase. Pick-and-pay pricing models provide users with advantages over subscription-based models. Some users may only want to take a single course as opposed to having access to the whole bundle of courses under a given track. This allows the consumer’s investment to be considerably smaller for a given course. Additionally, once the single instalment for the course has been paid, users have access to the course’s content for an indefinite period of time, without having to pay additional fees.

Unlike other platforms, Udemy allows anyone with a webcam to set up a course on their platform. The platform is characterised by two actors:

  • Content creators, who create courses in a given topic and whose goal is to monetise said course,
  • Buyers/Students/Users, who buy courses offered on the platform.

As a result, Udemy acts a marketplace that connects content creators, who possess skills in a given topic, and buyers, who want to learn a given skill. The platform offers monetisation opportunities for their content creators, by allowing them to price their courses as they see fit.


Udemy is an interesting competitor in the online-learning market. Together with Lynda, they are the only platforms that act simultaneously as online-learning and online market platforms. Despite the relatively saturated market, the online-learning industry is set to reach over $300 billion in revenues by 2025. With traditional higher education establishments not being able to keep with the fast-changing skill requirements in the labour market, online learning platforms are well along the way of disrupting current notions of higher education.



Ferenstein, G. (2014). Study: Massive Online Courses Enroll An Average Of 43,000 Students, 10% Completion. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2018].

Ferriman, J. (2017). E-Learning Industry Worth $325 Billion by 2025 – LearnDash. [online] LearnDash. Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2018].

Inverse. (2016). The Online Education Gold Rush Is Drying Up as Amazon Approaches. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Mar. 2018].

Udemy About. (2018). Learn about Udemy culture, mission, and careers | About Us. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2018].




The Cloakroom

The shift from brick and mortar store to online store was shift and sudden. The new online e-commerce environment provided consumers with endless possibilities especially for the clothing industry. With a total amount of US $332.1 billion in 2016 this industry accounted for 28% of the total eCommerce market. Additionally the industry is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 13.8% (Bohnhoff 2016).

Despite this increase in online sales and ecommerce there are still consumers that are hesitant to order online. The biggest part of this hesitation is the distrust in technology and the supply chain involved, but next to that little is known about online “innovators” and “early adopters” (Goldsmith and Goldsmith 2002). Enter the Cloakroom, a Dutch start-up determined to change the scene!

What is the Cloakroom?

Launched in a small apartment in Amsterdam the cloakroom is dedicated to bringing curated shopping to the public. With a simple vision: “We believe that every man deservers the luxury of having his own personal shopper”, founders Asbjørn Jorgensen & Kasper Petersen set out to become market leader in their own curated shopping niche.

How does it work?

Instead of focussing on the logistic parts and providing customers with an extensive amount of choices, the cloakroom focusses on the consumer and provides him with the personal shopping advice necessary. Customers apply through the website and fill in an online survey regarding preferences, these preferences lead to a profile which in the next step is discussed during a phone consultation. Based on the customer information and extensive knowledge of personal shoppers the customers receive 10 to 15 pieces of apparel. This apparel is send for free and can also be returned without any costs, this provides those customers warry about online purchases with an extra certainty. After a customer has ordered a box, picked out his favourites, and returned the leftovers,  he is provided with the opportunity to provide feedback to his personal shopper. This feedback is hence forward used to alter the customer profile and future apparel choices (The Cloakroom n.d.).

The Customer-Centric Cloakroom

What makes the Cloakroom customer centric is their intricate knowledge of their customers, before being send a clothing box customers are thoroughly analysed through surveys, phone interviews and store visits. This allows the Cloakroom, and its personal shoppers, to identify and provide the customer with their preferred product. The personal approach whereby the customer can get in touch with his personal shopper through both online, Facebook and WhatsApp, and offline, phone and store visits, allows for the building of customer trust. Trust which is deemed crucial for the growth and success of mobile commerce (Siau and Shen  2003). Additionally, the Cloakroom is able to take returns, a major pain point in eCommerce, and turn it into an opportunity. First of all it allows them to gain a better understanding of their customer, and secondly customers who have had good return experiences  will spend significantly more on return trips than other customers (Rivero and Zhu 2016).

Apart from providing customers with the experience that suits their needs, The Cloakroom also leads to joint profitability in the ecommerce sector. The company absorbs part of the risk traditional ecommerce companies have with regards to returns, additionally it provides consumers with a hassle free shopping experience and excellent service. Part of this risk absorption is possible due to the customer centric approach of the Cloakroom providing them with information about their customers traditional ecommerce companies do not have.

Since the founding of the Cloakroom many traditional ecommerce and clothing companies have started their own ventures (Zalon from Zalando, The Box Office from Suitsupply etc.) This is to show that the model employed by Cloakroom is a promising new model. A business model that is customer focused, allows for quick adaptations and feedback, and provides join profitability.


Bohnhoff, T. (2016). E-Commerce: Fashion. [PDF] Hamburg: Statista. Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

Goldsmith, R. E., & Goldsmith, E. B. (2002). Buying apparel over the Internet. Journal of Product & Brand Management11(2), 89-102.

Siau, K., & Shen, Z. (2003). Building customer trust in mobile commerce. Communications of the ACM, 46(4), 91-94.

Rivero, P. and Zhu, Z. (2016). Online Clothes Shopping An Industry Landscape Study Focusing on Returns. [PDF] California: Sutardja Center. Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

Instacart: Bringing Community, Personalization, and the Sharing Economy to you

Instacart is a U.S. based personal shopping platform that involves three major consumer groups: full-service shoppers, brick-and-mortar grocers, and end-customers.


Process Overview

Instacart holds contracts with several grocers and markets including the likes of Whole Foods, CostCo, PetCo, CVS Pharmacy, and Spec’s liquor store. Instacart offers jobs that involve shopping for groceries, bagging, and delivering goods to the homes of customers. Each shift, these shoppers are expected to safely acquire and transport hot and cold groceries to customers in their delivery zone. End customers peruse through the app or online catalog which features products available at the stores contracted by Instacart. Customers select their desired items and a time frame they are available to receive the goods at their workplace or residence. Using location-based technology, the Instacart application notifies customers when their personal shopper is in the store and sends live updates as items from the shopping list are added to the cart. Instacart shoppers – or Instashoppers –  are trained to accept orders, arrive at the store, collect the requested items, and purchase the groceries using a company card. Prior to checkout, shoppers communicate with customers about any adjustments that may have been made given the available selection at the store. Additionally, customers and shoppers are able to chat with each other during the shopping process to discuss products, availability, adjustments, and any other customer service issue each party may have.

Once bagged, Instashoppers return to their vehicles, load the goods, travel to the customer, and make the drop. Customers are able to rate and add an additional tip for shoppers based on their performance and service. Although customers are allowed to schedule deliveries for later, the process typically takes 75 minutes from the moment a shopper accepts an order to the confirmation of delivery, all recorded in the application.

The Instacart model incorporates three major Customer-centric ideologies: the sharing economy, community, and online personalization and product recommendations.


Instacart encourages community support among shoppers in delivery zones which reap numerous benefits. After he or she passes a background check, an invite is sent to new Instashoppers to visit a local grocery store where a Shopper Supervisor holds orientation seminars. Here, new shoppers gain firsthand exposure to the shopping procedure and undergo a demonstrative experience of the job. Additionally, these recruits meet several other new and experienced Instashoppers from which they will receive tricks of the trade, a branded lanyard, a company credit card, and a branded T-shirt that serves the purpose of unifying shoppers and intriguing regular grocery store shoppers about the Instacart service. Plus, Instashoppers are invited to a third-party mobile-based community on GroupMe where hundreds of shoppers and supervisors are able to have a chat offering advice or asking questions about the shopping experience in their zone. Given that the communication platform is outsourced, the shoppers can express joys or frustrations about customers they come across, grocers, and even the corporate policies like ones that incentivize new shoppers.


Instacart uses product recommendations to influence shoppers and customers alike. In the likely event an item is unavailable in the store, shoppers are asked to use common sense in order to fill the likely request of the customer. For example, the customer wants Moo-Moo Farms 2% milk, but the grocer has run out of this item. Once the shopper informs the app and customer of the stocking issue, the app may turn around and suggest adding 2% Milk from Oak Farms to the shopping list, as this is an item the customer has ordered in the past. Furthermore, the app may offer nonsensical items based on algorithms that an intelligent shopper might have to identify like the suggestions of Moo-Moo Farms Chocolate Milk or Creamer. Other cases may include how a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in the store may be replaced by packaged and canned versions of the products. On the customer end, Instacart employs big data analytics to predict items that may be desired based on past purchases, demographics, and information based on location and shopping patterns of neighbors. If one’s shopping behavior mirrors that of other new moms, young singles, or larger families, he or she can expect to see coupons for products people like them typically buy.

Sharing Economy

The biggest benefit this ideology helps Instacart with is the ability to rent human capital and delivery vehicles. Instashoppers use bags, coolers, cars, wagons, temperature-controlled bags, and any other personal product that helps them to shop and deliver groceries. For long distance deliveries of over 15 miles between store and customer, shoppers are offered a five dollar bump for the additional time and gas required for the delivery. This method allows for Instacart to circumvent the issue of car maintenance in their operations as their hired employees use personally owned vehicles to fulfill orders. Given the low-skill requirement, minimal overhead, and manageable physical effort requirements, the barrier to entry is low and new shoppers join every day. Instacart thrives by offering jobs to people young and old who can deliver groceries to their less-abled or more affluent neighbors willing to pay a premium on groceries for the added convenience of delivery and avoidance of long lines and hellish parking lots on busy Sunday afternoons.


Kiva: pushing the boundaries of charity


In general, it is relatively easy to obtain a loan. However, the interest rate differs significantly between, and even within, countries. The interest rate fundamentally reflects how expensive a loan is, which is often too high for the borrower to accept, especially in developing countries (Fernando, 2006). This phenomenon is further thwarted by the fact that central organizations such as banks or other financial institutions, define the loan’s extent and interest. Many are consequently unable to realize their ideas or even sustain costs of life.


Kiva, an international nonprofit organization, perceived these issues and decided to take action. Founded in 2005, Kiva aims to connect people through lending in order to alleviate poverty (Kiva, 2018). They specifically focus on underdeveloped regions and are active in 84 countries. Kiva recently surpassed the $1 billion mark (Price, 2017), which bears testimony to their success. But why does it work? To answer that question, we will dive deep into Diva’s business model, the value system surrounding Kiva, and how Kiva organizes its operations in order to facilitate that value.

The process of borrowing

Kiva is best described as a platform for microfinancing, where borrowers can apply for loans with 0% interest rate. Borrowers have to pass strict application criteria in order to be posted on the platform. Thereafter, basically anyone can lend this applicant funds through a “crowdlending” system. After everything is in operation, the borrower starts to repay the exact amount that is borrowed. As Kiva is a nonprofit organization, they can simply cover their costs through voluntary donations by Kiva lenders (2/3) and other foundations and supporters (1/3). This business model allows them to re-envision charity and stimulate growth in previously deserted regions.

CCDC blog Kiva process


Value creation

Kiva is a crowdfunding platform, consisting of borrowers and lenders. As the term value is distinctly different for each, we will elaborate on both entities separately, and in a jointly manner thereafter.

Borrowers – This entity usually represent entrepreneurs who want to contribute to their local communities or simply sustain costs of life. As such, most of the borrowers are located in developing countries. Borrower’s value within this system is acquired through three components:

  • Access to capital – borrowers can obtain much-needed funds through Kiva, which were previously inaccessible for them.
  • No additional costs – loans are given to the borrower for a 100%.
  • Realize ideas – a somewhat softer value component for borrowers is the fact that they are able to realize their dreams. The sole notion of gaining capital would be insufficient to account for the total value created for this entity, as it neglects the emotional component.

Lenders – This entity is formed by anyone who is willing to lend money (for any amount) and is usually located in developed countries. Their value is depicted by the following components:

  • Feelings of altruism: lenders participate on Kiva, mainly because of altruistic reasons and is of crucial importance to Kiva’s existence. After all, lenders receive no monetary reward, despite evident risks.
  • No middleman: knowing that 100% of the loan goes to the borrower adds to the lender’s feeling of righteousness.

Kiva as operating mechanism

Kiva’s role is one of provider service logic (Saarijärvi, Kannan & Kuusela, 2013), as its limited to facilitating interactions between these two entities. Generally, It is inherently difficult for firms like Kiva to become part of the interaction process (Grönroos, 2011), but they have succeeded by a twofold of operations. First, the platform acts as a catalyst by connecting them. As the user base grows, additional value can be created due to network effects. That is, lenders have more projects to choose from, whereas borrowers’ chances of success increase. For Kiva, such positive network effects increase switching costs, allowing them to keep users (Farrell & Klemperer, 2007). Second, the screening and structured loaning procedures provide lenders with much needed security as they bear substantial risks. Most of Kiva’s resources are devoted to the latter, which we will scrutinize in further depth hereafter.

Mollick (2013) estimated that over 75% of crowdfunding projects do not fulfill their initial obligations. In Kiva’s case, such numbers are incredibly relevant since lenders’ value is created through acts of altruism. Even if loans cannot be repaid in full, it inherently means that the project was unsuccessful. Knowing that, as a supporter, your initial feeling and drive of supporting entrepreneurs is diminished.

Furthermore, projects are diverse in nature and vary substantially in terms of potential. As is the case with unsolicited ideas, these are of high quantity and often low potential. Alexy, Criscuolo & Salter (2012) recommend both a filtering beyond submission process and adjust a central-decentralized approach, which Kiva adhered to. Their local presence is fitting for small local ideas, whereas the filtering is fundamentally a two-step process. Potential is roughly assessed by Kiva itself, but the eventual filtering is conducted by the lenders in the form of reaching crowdfunding goals (Zvilichovsky, Inbar & Barzilay, 2015).


Thus, Kiva is a microfinance non-profit organization that brings entrepreneurs and funders together. Their business model allows them to connect previously incompatible partners through means of altruism and screening operations. On the other side, entrepreneurs rely on funds in order to realize ideas and contribute to their local communities. The platform is a unique case of how crowdfunding mechanisms can be deployed in order to further good in the world and is therefore a worthwhile consideration in addition to commercial crowdfunding platforms.


Alexy, O., Criscuolo, P., & Salter, A. (2011). No soliciting: strategies for managing unsolicited innovative ideas. California Management Review, 54(3), 116-139.

Farrell, J., & Klemperer, P. (2007). Coordination and lock-in: Competition with switching costs and network effects. Handbook of industrial organization3, 1967-2072.

Fernando, N. A. (2006). Understanding and dealing with high interest rates on microcredit: A note to policy makers in the Asia and Pacific region.

Grönroos, C. and Ravald, A. (2011). Service as a business logic: implications for value creation and marketing, Journal of Service Management, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 5-22.

Kiva. 2018. Official website. Retrieved from

Mollick, E., 2014. The dynamics of crowdfunding: An exploratory study. Journal of Business Venturing, 29(1), 1-16.

Price, S. (2017). Lending Pioneer Kiva Hits The One Billion Mark And Launches A Fund For Refugees. Retrieved from

Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P. K., & Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review, 25(1), 6-19.

Zvilichovsky, David and Inbar, Yael and Barzilay, Ohad, Playing Both Sides of the Market: Success and Reciprocity on Crowdfunding Platforms (2015). (available at SSRN)

What3Words: Changing the world, 3 words at a time.

Have you ever struggled to explain where you are, get a package delivered to a wrong address, or have a taxi taken you to the wrong address? This is an occurrence in everyone’s daily lives. How do you describe where you are, or how do you explain it when the addresses are unclear? What3Words aligns with your struggles and believes that the addressing system can be, and should be better.

How does it work?

What3Words found that the current addressing system isn’t suitable for everyday needs. Street addresses can be incorrect, ambiguous, or even non-existent. Businesses and homes are located nowhere near a zip code. And a large chunk of the world doesn’t even have an address. What3Words came up with a solution to this problem by dividing the world in a grid of thee square meters, each with its own unique three word address. If you need a package delivered in the slums, you’re looking for your friends at a festival, or you need medical aid in the middle of the Sahara, What3Words can guide you there. With worldwide partners as UNICEF (medical aid), Mercedes (navigation), and Domino’s (off the grid pizza delivery) is What3Words becoming ready to conquer the world. The below video shows what it’s all about.


Business Model

What3Words believes in a better addressing system worldwide, and therefore provides its algorithm through an API to everyone that is willing to use it. However, how does this provide joint profitability? What3Words mainly acts as a service provider, a platform where businesses and non-profit organizations can utilize their API to provide a better service to individuals. Lives can be saved by locating people faster, but also businesses experience an increase in value through this new addressing system. One example is a pilot study at global logistics and transportation company Aramex who tested the system with 100 deliveries in Dubai, comparing both the old system and the 3 word addresses. They found that the deliveries with 3 word addresses were 42% faster and reduced the total distance travelled by 22%, proving the profitability of the system in this segment (What3Words n.d.). However, how is What3Words profiting as their API is up for grasps? Firstly, What3Words basically crowdsources the application of its system, lowering its own innovation costs (Bockstedt et al. 2016). Governments, organizations, individuals, everyone can contribute to the application of 3 word addresses. Secondly, What3Words generates revenue by offering its API for free but charging for high volume usage (Henderson 2017).

The switching costs of the 3 word addressing system are currently influenced by only two alternatives. Individuals either return to their old addressing system, or secondly, switch to regular GPS coordinates. However, does What3Words suffer from these alternatives when its addressing system is already adopted? This system is developed as such to be comprehensive, easy to use, and to fill the gaps that other systems leave. The old addressing systems are incomplete, ambiguous, or even non-existent, and GPS coordinates are difficult to communicate. Once adopted it is expected that the switching costs of this system are high as alternatives cannot live up to the same standard.

When evaluating the institutional arrangements it can be seen that What3Words adopted cleaver restrictions. By providing an open API it can limit the customization possibilities of its technology to such extend that users act within boundaries that not harm the purpose, or the company. Furthermore, What3Words provides flexibilities to organizations by providing personalized pricing mechanisms that never transfer any ownership of the technology. As discussed earlier there is a free tier for low volume use of the API, and a payed tier for high volume usage, but on top of that offers the organization also special arrangements for qualifying non-profit organizations Henderson (2017). The institutional environment, on the other hand, does not has an answer to this system, as there are no restrictions being placed nation – or worldwide yet.

What3words laatste

Great stuff! Why not use it?

Saving lives, never missing out on a delivery, and always getting where you want to be. Is this reality, or is this too good to be true? Although many practical implications already have proven its value (e.g. Aramex delivery pilot) and many businesses started leveraging 3 word addresses, there still are some concerns to the applicability of the system. One of the main concerns is that the 3 word addresses only provide you with an horizontal location, but does not specify the height at for example a multi-storey building. Another downside is the randomness of the word combination. Knowing where you are now doesn’t help you in getting somewhere else.

To conclude it seems that What3Words has a system in hand that could truly benefit the world. Those locations that lack reliable addressing systems, possess remote locations, or encounter a natural hazard seem to be well suited, however, the system may not be as applicable to all.



Bockstedt, J., Druehl, C. and Mishra, A. (2016) ‘Heterogeneous Submission Behavior and its Implications for Success in Innovation Contests with Public Submissions’. Production and Operations Management, 25(7): 1157-1176.

Carson S. J., D. T. (1999). Understanding Institutional Designs Within Marketing Value Systems. Journal of Marketing Vol 63, 115-130.

Henderson (2017) ‘ How does what3words create revenue?’ Accessed on 10 March 2018 on

What3Words (n.d.) ‘ Simpler, faster, better: 3 word addresses take on Dubai’s street addresses in Aramex delivery challenge’. Accessed on 10 March 2018 on


What3Words (n.d.) ‘About’. Accessed on 10 March 2018 on


Music is your business

Always dreamed of being one of the coaches of The Voice or X Factor, but your lack of musical talent is the thing keeping you from this? Or have you tried breaking through in the music industry, but has your beautiful voice not yet hit the masses? In that case the platform ‘My Major Company’ will enrich your life. This platform gives everyone the opportunity to help an artist produce his or her album, eventually resulting in the artists being able to break through in the music industry.


How does it work?

My Major Company involves consumers in the selection and the eventual success of new and upcoming artists, since 2007 and reached their peak of contributors in 2010. The website portrays an increasing amount of musicians, containing detailed information about their music and themselves. (Ple et al., 2010) Moreover, consumers can listen to work of musicians, help them with funding and comment on their songs with strategic decisions, development or appreciation. This makes this customer-integrated business model a combination between a community driven business model and a crowdfunding business model. When a project is funded enough the albums will be produced, distributed and advertised, which can be a dream come true for many artists. As the winning amount an artist received from backers was €150.000, which can be seen in the following figure.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 16.18.50Figure 1: Lay-out for online platform ‘My Major Company’ (MyMajorCompany, n.d.)

Crowdfunding business model

Using crowdfunding as business model reduces the importance of traditional geographic constraints for consumers, but gives access to funds and avoidance of financial risk to the musicians. (Mollick, 2013; Matinez-Canas et al., 2012) Moreover, for musicians this is positive because pooling contributions of crowdfunders, and thus redistributing risk, opens up possibilities to release records that would else have never been published. In return backers in the platform will be paid 30% of the net income generated by artists they funded. (Ple et al., 2010) However it has been studied that there ought to be a significant amount of backers, making repeated contributions in order to make the crowdfunding campaign a succes (Galuszka et al., 2014). However, there will always be the disadvantage that rivals will be able to copy ideas developed on the platform (Ple et al., 2010).


Online community business model

Having a community on a crowdfunding platform can be very beneficial as this encourages new customers to join, increases quantity and eventually the quality of the product offering (Ple et al., 2010). This shows that not only the financial aspects are vital, but also the social network ties between potential backers and the musicians in this business model have been shown to be extremely important in crowdfunding business models (Agrawal et al., 2012; Galuzka, 2014). Mollick (2013) adds to this the dynamics of success and failure lies in personal networks and project quality. Finally, this business model gives the opportunity in an early stage to identify the actual target audience, for instance the songs people listen to within this business model (Matinez-Canas et al., 2012). Nonetheless, it is found that 75% deliver products (in this case albums) later than expected by the backers (Mollick, 2013). Therefore it is of great importance that founders will be encouraged to set appropriate goals and careful planning. Moreover, outsourcing the firms’ control can be negative due to non-relevance posted within the communities such as spam (Tsekouras, 2018). This might be problematic for firms, as this might not comply with the institutional arrangements set.


Produce the new artists you like!

The combination of a crowdfunding and online community business model has proven to be very beneficial for companies, however, for backers this can be of high potential too. Its value proposition lies in of making music your business concerns a broad amount of stakeholders interested in the music industry. By having a say in what music will be produced and helping musicians by funding the and giving them advise, backers’ perception of the music industry will change completely. For just €10,- it is possible to help an artist break through in the music industry. However, bear in mind that it is not possible to buy more than 100 shares of the same artist. (Ple, 2010) Even though this business model has not expanded their business in the last years, in my opinion, this business model was a pioneer of communities and crowdfunding in the music industry and should therefore not be forgotten.




Agrawal, A., Catalini, C. and Goldfarb, A. (2014). Some Simple Economics of Crowdfunding. Innovation Policy and the Economy, 14(1), pp.63-97.

Galuszka, P. and Bystrov, V. (2014). Crowdfunding: A Case Study of a New Model of Financing Music Production. Journal of Internet Commerce, 13(3-4), pp.233-252.

Martinez-Canas, R., Ruiz-Palomino, P. and Pozo-Rubio, R. (2012). Crowdfunding And Social Networks In The Music Industry: Implications For Entrepreneurship. International Business & Economics Research Journal (IBER), 11(13), p.1471.

Mollick, E. (2014). The Dynamics of Crowdfunding: An exploratory study. Journal of Business Venturing, 29(1), pp.1-16.

MyMajorCompany. (n.d.). MyMajorCompany – Tous les projets à financer. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2018].

PLÉ, L., Lecocq, X. and ANGOT, J. (2010). Customer-Integrated Business Models: A Theoretical Framework. M@n@gement, 13(4), p.226.

Tsekouras, D. (2018). CUSTOMER CENTRIC DIGITAL COMMERCE – Session 6.



“Life is too short to drink bad wine.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You enjoy an occasional glass of red wine, or you just want to pair the day’s love infused dinner with an exquisite bottle of white. You go to the nearest wine shop, liquor store or supermarket only to be left alone staring at the abundance of options. Of course, you can ask the salesperson at the shop, but can he or she incorporate the knowledge of millions of wines into his recommendation? No, I didn’t think so either. It is your lucky day though, Vivino is here to help.

Finding the perfect bottle

Vivino boasts over 9 million different wines in its database covering over 3000 different wine regions for its community of 29 million wine lovers. Founded in the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, by Heini Zachariassen and Theis Søndergaard in 2010, it is world’s largest online wine marketplace. The company is spread over three continents with their offices in Copenhagen, San Fransico, Ukraine and India, and so far has secured $56.3 million in funding including a staggering $25 million from SCP Neptune, the family office investment vehicle of the Moët Hennesy CEO, Christophe Navarre. A “community-powered e-commerce platform for personalized recommendations” as Zachariassen puts it, allows users to scan the labels of the whichever bottle they are about to buy and the app recognizes the key pieces of information such as the price, producer, year and the region of production. The app also gives tasting notes and recommends food pairings to go with your precious bottle.

Here’s a 60-second video explaining how:

Wine lovers unite!

The community dimension of Vivino is what makes it a truly customer-centric platform. It allows users to rate the wines, read the comments of other users and even follow their fellow oenophiles, possibly consisting of family and friends whose reviews will be highlighted in their feeds. Since the launch of the app some seven years ago, half a billion labels have been scanned and 88 million ratings have been submitted. With such a wealth of data, the company launched Vivino Market in 2017 offering wine lovers customized recommendations depending on their past behavior on the platform. The more labels they scan and more ratings and reviews they leave on the platform, the better recommendations the users get. Vivino seems to be the perfect conjunction of social media, big data, and machine learning assisting wine lovers to never be disappointed ever again with their choice of wine.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 20.45.23
Vivino by the numbers

A new era for selling wines

Vivino’s value proposition does not only concern wine lovers in the pursuit of a good wine. It also benefits retail partners and sommeliers alike. Guest-to-sommelier interaction is usually an awkward one: guest trying to explain what kind of wine he or she likes and sommelier trying to pinpoint “the one” with not much to go on other than “dry”. Vivino successfully steps in at this point. The users of the platform can simply show the sommeliers wines that they previously enjoyed, making everyone’s lives a little easier. And Scott Zocolillo, Managing Partner, and Sommelier at Nectar in suburban Philadelphia’s Berwyn agrees: “Vivino, to me, shows trends and preferences. I love when a guest has their app out, [as] it helps move the conversation along and helps me do my job and get them the best wine for their experience.” It doesn’t end there, though. Through its marketplace, Vivino charges a flat commission for retailers on the orders that are bought on its website and app. With over $40 million worth of wine sold through Vivino, it provides a disruptive opportunity for wine producers to reach a vast community of users who are appreciative of wine. A win-win situation for all parties involved!

Powered by a solid community of users with its current data capabilities, the company plans to expand to emerging markets such as Hong Kong, Brazil, and Mexico through its increased partnerships. The goal is to sell $1 billion in wine by 2020 and with 2 years to go, that doesn’t seem to be an easy target. However, Zachariassen seems to believe in the potential of the online market for wines. “Wine is a $300 billion industry and if you look at the online part of wine, e-commerce, it’s still very, very small,” says Zachariassen, pointing towards a plethora of opportunities in the online wine retail business in the years to come. For now, what we can do as wine lovers is to sit back, relax and crack open that bottle of red which is guaranteed to be a pleasure.

Here is another article written about Vivino from 2014:


Crunchbase. (2018). Vivino | Crunchbase. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Freedman, B. (2017). The Launch Of Vivino Market Could Herald A New Era In Wine Buying. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Page, H. (2018). Investors Pour $20M More Into Wine Curation And Delivery App Vivino – Crunchbase News. [online] Crunchbase News. Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Scott, K. (2017). Vivino: This app is designed to turn anyone into a wine expert. [online] CNNMoney. Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018]. (2018). About Vivino. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Yeung, K. (2016). Vivino raises $25M round, led by Moet Hennessey’s CEO, for its wine discovery app. [online] VentureBeat. Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Need a vacation? Send Coca-Cola a message!

Coca-Cola is an enormous brand with a value of 69.73 billion US dollars (Statista, 2018b). In the US, an average person drinks approximately 275 cans of coke per year which proves that the company has already ‘’attained’’ most of the people in the US (Stocker, 2015). Therefore, it is naturally to shift the marketing focus from short term sales towards a more long-term customer connection. Coca-Cola showed with their ‘’Share a Coke’’ campaign that loyalty among customers can be achieved by focusing on emotions.  In this campaign, the logos on the cola cans were replaced by popular names among young people (Moye, 2014). Basically, Coca-Cola was inviting buyers to take a part in a massive social marketing experience. On the long-run, this campaign turned out to be a huge success with almost 345,000 posts on Instagram with the Shareacoke hashtag. After a couple years of silence, Coca-Cola made its come back last summer.

The competition between Pepsi and Coca-Cola is an ongoing and endless battle, but the latter made an attempt to be the number one in the holy Ramadan month of 2017. Coca-Cola Egypt has studied the process of persuasion in which a very well-trained team helps employees to get the vacation they want (ThinkMarketing, 2017). The first thing was learning to build solid arguments, followed by understanding the personality of the concerning manager.  The company itself made it clear that anyone could be convinced.

The campaign went as following: the campaign encouraged individuals to contact Coca-Cola and describe the manager’s characteristics. This could be done by sending a private message and using the hashtag “#الأجيزة” with the name of the manager (Imfnd, 2017). After analyzing the characteristics of the manager, Coca-Cola’s well-trained team constructed arguments which are convincing enough for the specific manager. However, the arguments are not the only crucial part of the convincing process. The delivery of the arguments also counts. This differs per person, since every person is sensitive for different things.  After the team had constructed the solid arguments and found a way to deliver it, Coca-Cola sent the employee a video to convince the manager in giving him/her a vacation (ThinksMarketing, 2017).

The timing of the ad was perfect, since it was broadcasted two weeks before the annual vacation of Eid. Next, the team was chosen well since the members varied in both skills and appearance.  Furthermore, Coca-Cola made a smart choice by reintroducing a hashtag campaign. The main reason is because the number of social media users saw an increase between 2014 and 2017 from 1.91 billion to 2.46 billion (Statista, 2018a). However, the campaign was not a success. The ad had received approximately 1.6 million views in the 19 days it was broadcasted. This is impressive for an average brand, but certainly not for a heavy weightier as Coca-Cola. For example, Pepsi had received almost 1.9 million views in 7 days in the same period. The question remains, why was the campaign not successful?

COca cola campaign

There may be several reasons. Firstly, the campaigns served as a reaction to the losing classic soft drink battle between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Pepsi has already managed to take over of almost 55% of the total viewership between the two and additionally 62% of the engagement (InsightHub, 2017). Thus, to fight back against the superior campaign ad of Pepsi, Coca-Cola released the discussed campaign. Coca-Cola switched from its original campaign towards the Ramadan campaign. Thus, the latter was basically a plan B. This indicates that there is a chance that due to lack of time, Coca Cola wasn’t able to prepare the campaign well.

Another reason may be because of privacy issues. Coca-Cola was only able to help if the description was detailed enough. This demands a lot of personal information from both the employee and manager. There is a good chance that employees were scared to be caught by managers and scared for the inherent consequences, like losing the job or make the relationship with the manager worse. Getting caught was a possible outcome since the whole foundation of the campaign was based on social media.

Concluding, the Ramadan 2017 campaign of Coca-Cola Egypt was not a success. Still, this was not a complete disaster. Coca-Cola, again, switched from focusing solely on acquiring as many new customers as possible, to engaging with its customers. Continuously engaging with customers is a crucial point here. Thus, even Coca-Cola has lost this battle; it still serves as a perfect example for many other companies.


Imfnd, (2017). Coke Comeback: How Coca-Cola Use “Customer Participation” in a community campaign – imfnd. [online]

InsightsHub. (2017). Soft Drinks | Ramadan Insights Hub. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2018].

Moye, J., (2014). Share a Coke: How the Groundbreaking Campaign Got Its Start ‘Down Under’. [online] The Coca-Cola Company. Available at: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2018].

Statista (2018a). Number of social media users worldwide 2010-2021 | Statista. [online] Statista. Available at: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2018].

Statista (2018b). Topic: Coca-Cola Company. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2018].

Stocker, M. (2015). How Coca-Cola, Yoplait Use Customer Participation – Marketo. [online] Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

ThinkMarketing (2017). How to ask for a vacation? Coca Cola super convincing team got the answer! | Think Marketing. [online] Think Marketing.

From simple diagnosis to knowing all about your body: a trip to the new GP

Stomach pain, headache, or simple pain in the toe; with all sorts of pains, discomforts and more we go to the general practitioners office. The steps are quite common for everyone and most ‘pains’. The GP sometimes asks questions, maybe gives some simple medicine and you have to come back in several weeks. The GP has had a general education on healthcare. This means they know a little bit about everything, but they don’t have a specialty that they know a lot about. This means they can give general diagnosis, but need to send the patient to a specialist when they cannot give an exact diagnosis. Some GPs are sending patients quite easily to a specialist, others are just giving some medication and see if that works in a couple of weeks. The diagnosis has to be made by combining the symptoms that a patient describes with the knowledge of the GP and sometimes a physical examination. But the main focus here is to treat the symptoms, so that the patient is no longer uncomfortable.

The financing for this process comes from the health insurance companies, at least for a large part. The patient has something that is calls ‘own risk’, which is an amount they will have to pay themselves first, before the insurance company will start paying. Healthcare like the GP is always covered by the insurance company, but the care by specialists is not always covered, as also the medication that is not always covered by insurance. So, with minor health issues that a GP can handle on his own, the costs for the patients are very low in general.

This process has worked for years, so why try to find another way to do this? I think we can do better and I got the feeling I’m not alone in this opinion.  The GP giving a general diagnosis does not mean that the cause of the problems is known exactly. So, treatment is solely to get rid of the symptoms. By not treating the cause, the symptoms can return and another visit to the GP and treatment will be necessary. Sometimes the diagnosis is not correct and the real issues are not treated.

How nice would it be to find out exactly what is wrong in your body within 5 minutes? This can be done by using a bodyscan. This method is sometimes used in hospitals, but not as a ‘standard procedure’. Using this technology in a GP office will make the work of the GP a lot easier and the results of a visit a lot better. The GP can find out what the problem is behind the symptoms and treat the real issue, and not only the symptoms.

How does it work then? There are multiple ways and multiple types of bodyscans. One of them works as follows. You put your hands and feed on special metal plates, you get a saturation meter on your finger and two electrodes on your forehead. These are all hooked up to a computer with a special program. This will measure the total body on cellular level. The program will show after the measurement where the deflections are in the body. Combining the outcomes of the bodyscan with the knowledge of the GP will give a more accurate diagnosis and a real cause for the symptoms the patient is experiencing. The GP will have to update their knowledge and get some experience on working with a bodyscan in order to use it correctly in making a diagnosis. All processes in the body are linked to each other, so with a deflection in one process, someone can experience problems within another process. So the knowledge on this links within the body will be crucial for the GP to interpret the bodyscan right.

Aside from making easier and better diagnosis by the GP, the bodyscan can also be used for prevention. It also shows small deflections that do not yet cause problems, but might in the near future. This way the patient can anticipate on this and prevent getting ill. In the Netherlands, prevention is not really the focus. The health insurance companies do not support prevention as much as other countries in Europe. We only go see a GP if we already have symptoms. Aside from being more comfortable for the patient, prevention can also ensure lower costs for the insurance companies. Less treatment with expensive medication will be needed if less people become ill. Next to that, if the diagnosis is that treatment is necessary, the patient can be directed to the right specialists and right treatment. So, no more unnecessary treatment.

So why is it not yet used? It isn’t a new technology, but it is not yet accepted. The GP (and also some other specialists) don’t have the exact knowledge for using a bodyscan. Also, using the bodyscan at the GP’s will change the healthcare because of the difference in diagnosis and the possibility of prevention. I think the pharmaceutical industry and health care industry are not ready for this change.



Corpus Health. (2018). Bodyscan – Corpus Health. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

Dracup, K. and Bryan-Brown, C. (2018). Doctor of Nursing Practice—MRI or Total Body Scan?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018]. (2018). praktische protocollen voor de huisartsenpraktijk. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Feb. 2018].

Toekomstvisie_-_nhg-standpunt_kernwaarden_huisartsgeneeskunde_juli_2011. (2018). 1st ed. [ebook] NHG. Available at: [Accessed 17 Feb. 2018].






Intuit’s Design for Delight


Intuit is a well-known, US based, financial software company, that provides financial, accounting, and tax preparation software for small businesses, accountants and individuals. Their most notable products include the Quicken, TurboTax and Quickbooks (Intuit, 2017). The company has been existent for 35 years and Intuit has been known to pay great attention and focus on the needs of their customers. When the company first started, employees were encouraged to observe their customers in the so called “usability- labs”. The employees were encouraged to try to come up with real-time solutions for the problems the customers encountered. In addition, they also implemented the “Follow me Homes” project, where they would not only observe their customers at work but also at their homes. Further gathering of customer insights were also gathered from their annual big survey (Lester, 2016).

Based on their above-mentioned initiatives, Intuit was becoming quite successful and known as a software company with their own unique approaches. However, this approach did not come without its problems, after a few years the focus started to shift in another (unintended) direction. This approach lead to the company constantly focusing on solving the problems of their customers instead of focusing on determining their customer needs. Intuit was “fixing” instead of learning and innovating (Power & Stanton, 2015).


The New Business Model

Intuit was certain that it had to change their focus, to what is was supposed to be. The new focus would be on the customer-centricity that characterized their entrepreneurial past. Therefore, Intuit launched a new initiative called the “Design for Delight” which was meant to fulfill their vision of meeting its customer requirements. This initiative was based on three core principles as outlined by Power and Stanton (2015);

  • Deep Customer Empathy – Immerse yourself with customers to know them better than they know themselves. To understand what really matters to customers, you should watch them, talk with them, and put yourself in their shoes.
  • Go Broad to Go Narrow – Create options before making choices. There are lots of possible answers, so to get one great idea, you need to create lots. The first idea is rarely the best.
  • Rapid Experiments with Customers – Get customer feedback early and often to understand the pros and cons of options. Watching customers react to prototypes through trial and error is better than relying on our own opinions.
To implement these new initiatives, a cultural and operational transformation was a necessity. They trained their employees, held a large number of immersive experiential workshops and most importantly, they added the so-called “design thinking” to their leadership training programs (Power & Stanson, 2015). All of this enabled Intuit to be able to become a leader in customer experience and innovation. Their culture is constantly seeking to fulfill the customers’ needs by putting the customers first and finding new ways to improve their experiences (Intuit, 2017).


Efficiency Criteria 

Due to the new initiative, Intuit was able to become a frontier in the market of tax and financial software, the majority of the American consumers uses software made by Intuit for their tax return (Aquino, 2016). As the customer shopping behavior and experiences have changed in the past decade(s), to one in which they expect their needs to be be fulfilled as fast as possible, Intuit was also impacted since these same expectations were also for financial services. Fortunately, Intuit has been able to adapt to these changes by providing the customers with instant and easy services. Their “Design for Delight” initiative provides the business with constant customers’ feedback which ensures the company of staying up to date with the needs of their customers.

Therefore, looking at the efficiency criteria, they were also able to tackle the several challenges that come a long with a business like Intuit. As the taxes and accounting business is associated with the law and reporting rules that tend to change annually, Intuit needed to stay nimble. Moreover, Their customers demanded faster and simpler tools to help them prepare their financial and tax reports, therefore Intuit needed a constant stream of effective and relevant new products. Lastly, their traditional research process took a lot of time, making it unable for Intuit to be responsive, because the moment they finally gathered all the data, it was no longer actionable by the time it was received.

With the new community that was build, Intuit got access to insights from their users, as these led to rapid and sophisticated findings, which resulted in more appropriate product development. So the overall market research spend was dropped while the number of projects increased. Moreover, the company also got the ability to translate the feedback and requests of its customers into tangible product changes, in a quick and easy way, creating a revolutionary form of dialogue between its customers.



R. Lester (2016) “4 Succesful Businesses Following A Customer-Centric Model”, available at:

B. Power, S. Stanton (2015) “How IBM, Intuit, and Rich Products Became More Customer-Centric”, available at:

“Company”. (Accessed on 18 February 2018). (Accessed on 18 February 2018).

Aquino (2016) “How Intuit uses Customer Insights to ‘Design for Delight’ “, available at:

Finding Rover: Do not despair! Your dog/cat is waiting to be found

Nowadays, having a large amount of friends is a given due to the Internet’s expansion of our networks. However, a type of household friends that have stayed through this transition are our pets. And for some, these fury companions are more than just friends; they are family. Therefore, if one ever had a dog or cat that went missing, then they can tell you that the loss is an emotional experience for everyone involved.

This experience is exactly what drove John Polimeno in 2012 to find software developers who could help him build a facial recognition that would work even on our little companion’s furry faces. The end product was am algorithm that combines machine learning and computer vision to locate dogs and cats’ features. This tool was then launched with the app “Finding Rover”, which has been able to reunite more than a 1,000 missing dogs and cats with their owners in the US.

How does Finding Rover work?
The basic principle of the app is to connect the owner who lost his/her pet with anyone who has seen said pet. Thus, if you are the owner, you merely need to choose “Lost”, upload a photo of your pet, and select the location where you last saw it. The algorithm will then automatically compare your pet’s key features with its database of pets that were found. A similar procedure applies if you are a person who has found a stray pet. You just select “Found”, upload a picture of the pet you just saw, and select the location you found it in. The algorithm will then match your found pet with any picture of a pet that is missing. If the owner and finder are matched by the system, they get each others’ contact details. In case there is not match, the system will notify you if there is a match in the future. You can also go through the database of pictures yourself. Furthermore, as soon as you post a picture of your missing pet, anyone registered on the app in a 10-mile radius from you will be notified in order to keep an eye out for your pet.

Currently, individual users are not the only ones who employ this free lifetime membership app. Shelters across the entire US have partnered with the platform, in order to mitigate their own overflow of pets.

Which co-creation value does Finding Rover offer?

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 20.09.21
Value: The entire value that is generated by the app for its users is based on the main advantages it offers above all other options that help you find your pet.

  1.  Other apps: While other platforms exist to find your dog or cat, all of them are merely databases of information. In other words, the owners/finders upload a picture, some key words that define the pet, and their contact details. But no real connection between those two databases takes place unless a user scrolls themselves through the entire database. Thus, Finding Rover’s algorithm, which has a 98% accurate match rate, provides for a much quicker method to connect owners and finders. Additionally, most of the other apps build communities of people missing their pets in specific states or areas, while Finding Rover cross-checks the entire country and therefore allows for a much larger search radius.
  2. Chips: While the use of microchips is a common method to identify a missing dog/cat, there is a crucial aspect that usually prevents this method from working. Normally when a pet is found wandering on the street, they are incredibly aggressive towards anyone who wants to pick them up and bring them to a veterinarian who can scan their chip. Finding Rover significantly simplifies this activity, since the finder just needs to take a picture, something they can do from a secure distance.
  3. Flyers: While flyers are the most common go-to option in the US, the app provides for the larger radius advantage over them. Therefore, if a catastrophic event happens, such as hurricanes Harvey or Irma where pets were found sometimes 2,000miles from their owners’ homes, then the app allows for people there to also be informed about the missing pet. Furthermore, as mentioned, if you upload your missing pet, anyone registered in a 10-mile radius will be informed anyways, which replaces the need for a flyer in the first place.
  4. Shelters: The main reason for why more than 500 shelters have already committed to the app, is because it actually saves them a lot of money. If a dog has to be taken into a shelter, it will usually cost the shelter around $225 to house it for some days. Thus, a lot of money has been saved, since now dogs do not even have to reach the shelter stage. And all of this at a $0 cost!

Co-: Taking  into consideration that the Finding Rover company only supplies the platform as a intermediary, the value is created C2C, namely between the people who are missing their pets and those who have found pets.

Creation: The creation of the value is completely dependent on the users’ involvement, since they are the information sources of the entire platform.

Does Finding Rover fulfill the Efficiency Criteria?

  • Joint Profitability: The platform maximizes the joint payoffs of all partners involved. Not only does the app allow the owners to find their pets quickly and save shelters a lot of costs, but it simultaneously allows for the people who find the dogs to feel an ethical fulfilment for having helped out not only the owners but also in keeping their communities safe from any aggressive, stray pets.
  • Institutional Arrangement: The company sets an incredibly high value on privacy, in order to keep everyone’s contact details as safe as possible. Before the owner’s and finder’s contact details are shared to each other, the owner must confirm that the match is correct. This has allowed that until now no privacy issues related to the users’ information have emerged and, therefore, fulfilled the most important institutional arrangement.
  • Institutional Environment: Due to the fact that this app is not only helping the community by matching owners to their missing pets but also keeping the streets safe from aggressive dogs, it has been highly recognised by different government institutions.

For more information about Finding Rover, click here.

Finding Rover. (2018). Finding Rover | Let’s bring them all home.. [online] Available at:

Hartley, S. (2015). Shelter takes new approach to finding lost dogs. [online] Napa Valley Register. Available at:

Deneen, S. and Lau, E. (2015). Facial-recognition apps scout lost pets. [online] Available at:

Taylor, C. (2016). Dog gone? County shelters embrace Finding Rover app. [online] NACo. Available at:

Das, S. (2013). Finding Rover app tracks lost dogs using facial recognition. [online] CNET. Available at:

Stronger together! How co-creation unveiled image recognition applications.

A short story of image recognition applications for long-established businesses

What does image recognition evoke to you ? Tesla’s automatic pilot mode ?  Google’s automated image organization or Facebook’s face recognition system ?

All these applications are state-of-the art image recognition applications but yet they might not be the more profitable ones. Traditional business are often considered as laggard when it comes to technologic innovation but they actually carry the most added-value applications for computer vision. From automatic quality control to predictive maintenance, deeply-rooted companies are operated by many simple but repetitive tasks than can easily be automated with computer vision. But why don’t we hear about them ?


Long-established companies are facing many challenges to adapt their operations to computer vision technology. Often handicapped by their unsexy corporate images, they don’t attract talented data scientist and fall behind to develop AI applications. For this reason, many solution-provider companies started to offer a variety of off-the-self image recognition API. But once again, this approach was not satisfying. Most APIs had a too much restricted scope and performed poorly once used in the business environment.

In response to the lack of success of these APIs, more and more image recognition API providers companies are pivoting towards custom image recognition applications and it might finally be the right approach to bring AI into traditional companies’ operations. In order to tailor each system to business needs, it appeared that a strong collaboration is required between solution providers and clients. Therefore, it is relevant to present this new approach with the spectrum of value co-creation.

Co-creation principles of real-world image recognition applications

1. Custom, the system will be

As mentioned above, custom applications proved to be more way more efficient to solve businesses’ problems. Image recognition applications are systems that take in input an image and give an information about it on output. This information can be a tag (eg : there is a dog in this image) or an object localization for instance.  They are highly specific to each company and therefore need to be adapted every time.

2. Client’s image, you will use

To ensure satisfying performances, each applications should be build with customers images. By that, I mean that later on the application’s system will predict information from specific images and the model used in production should be be created with extremely similar images. I won’t go into details but keep in mind, that AI learn by examples and the more relevant the examples are, the more accurate the results will be. Be careful, some images can be qualified as personal data and has to respect personal data directives.

3. Involved, your client have to be

Unlike some others IT applications, defining requirement specifications won’t be enough to build a custom applications. Customers should be involved during the whole process in order to ensure that the final application match correctly the operations. For instance, if one company wish to automate quality control, it will need to define what tags are the best to represent the different type of defect on spare parts.

4. Labelling, your client will be in charge of

Finally, in cases where the customer is the expert, the only way to create custom systems implies to put client at work. As briefly mentioned before, to build image recognition model you need to show as many example as possible. To do so, you need to annotate every images with its corresponding tags and some tags requires an expertise only possessed by operators. For instance, there is a lot of excitements around automatic cancerous cell detection on medical images. To create an auto-diagnosis system, doctors need to teach algorithm to differentiate sane and cancerous of cells and it requires a specific annotation expertise that cannot be outsourced.


Information asymmetry has inhibited computer vision applications’s development as traditional companies have struggled to understand how it could benefit their business and AI companies to uncover potential use cases for them. Establishing co-creation relationship to build image recognition application might finally allows a faster integration of AI in traditional businesses. 

Deepomatic, making vision AI accessible to every businesses

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Let’s illustrate how these principles can be applied to a business model. French start-up deepomatic edits a software platform enabling businesses to build custom image recognition system. Starting from simple licence plan to more project-based sales, the start-up offers support to guide clients from use case ideation to application deployment. The relationship between them and their clients is structured around step by step meetings to define scope and tags, to collect images etc. The platform they designed helps to manage dataset and performance but also bridge deepomatic’s actions to its client’s. As it is possible to improve system’s performances over time, deepomatic designed the software as a human-in-the-loop platform : once in production, the system can still return images where the system is unconfident and client’s experts can annotate again and deploy a new version. This way, system can evolve over time to match operational changes and represent a strong example of a dynamic and customized product. 

For more information about deepomatic’s platform, click here.


deepomatic’s website :

Saarijävi et al (2013), “Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications”, European Business Review

Kohtamäki, Rajala (2016), “Theory and practice of value co-creation in B2B systems”, Industrial Marketing Management the start of your career

The rise of the Internet has drastically changed the recruitment industry. The Internet made recruitment faster, cheaper and easier (Revell 2014). Companies can post job applications online for the world to see, while jobseekers can reply in seconds. On top of that, communication between companies and job applicants changed; companies can now for instance reach job applicants through e-mail or Skype, diminishing recruitment costs and increasing the reach of the company. The Internet therefore increased the range and the competition for talent amongst companies, for example through recruitment platforms. One of these recruitment platforms that makes locating and acquiring of job applicants easier, is 

What is was launched in 2012 in Rotterdam by three students as a recruitment platform that connects students (and recent graduates) with companies. Currently, the platform has over 1,500 companies and 150,000 students using it, creating more than three million connections ( n.d. a). So, how does it exactly work?

Companies create a profile, where they describe their business, selection criteria for students and add relevant news, jobs and other possibilities. Students, create a profile with their skills and interests and upload their resume. then checks if the student’s profile matches any companies. If so, the student will automatically receive a network request from the company. If the student accepts that request (and only in that case), the student will receive updates and information on available jobs, internships, business courses and traineeships offered by the company. The company can view the connected students’ profiles, send them messages or invitations to directly apply for job opportunities. In that way, a company can build a network of suitable candidates ( n.d. a).

The video below summarises the idea behind as described above.

Thus, is a two-sided market, providing structure and rules that facilitate the interaction between students and companies (Eisenmann et al. 2006). The two groups attract one another, meaning that if the number of students grows, it will attract more companies, and vice versa. This is called the network effect, which suggests that the higher the number of users, the more attractive will be and the higher its value.

Business model uses a freemium business model, meaning that basic functions are free for students and companies, but companies must pay a subscription fee for additional functions (Kumar 2014). Companies pay €190 per job per month to put their job offer on the homepage of all students who meet their selection criteria ( n.d. b). Other premium options are the ability to approach and invite the best suited candidates to apply for jobs and user data insights. For these additional options, an inquiry must be done to determine the fee. However, the creation of a company profile and posting job offers is free.

This business model is beneficial for all platform players and thus creates joint profitability (Carson 1999). has many users and thus companies can benefit by recruiting more students that are better suited with less effort. is payable for both small and large companies since the subscription fee is relatively low compared to alternatives, such as recruitment agencies. Hence, switching costs are substantial since the convenience of is high; you can reach many suitable students at a relatively low cost. On the other hand, students benefit by the many job options offers and the ease with which they can look up jobs, while not having to pay a subscription fee. Finally, itself benefits from an increase of users since in that case it can collect more subscription fees. is very customer-centric since students and companies can set selection criteria indicating what they are looking for. For instance, a student can filter job applications for the type of job, function, industry, educational level and company size, making parameter-based (Randall 2005). Thus, the platform takes care of institutional arrangements by giving power to platform players; companies and students can indicate what they are looking for and they can directly communicate, which makes recruitment more efficient.

In terms of the institutional environment, complies to social norms and regulations. hosts many well-known companies such as Unilever, KLM and Heineken and recently acquired one million euro from investors to grow the company, suggesting trust and enormous potential (Thole 2017). The company is also registered at the chamber of commerce and complies to the Dutch (Personal) Data Protection Act ( n.d. c).

All in all, meets efficiency criteria and is still growing. Although there are many other recruitment platforms (e.g. LinkedIn), differentiates itself by focusing on students and matching them with companies instead of individuals. The potential of is enormous, last year the company expanded to the U.K., where it is now the number one student career website ( 2017). So, one may wonder how far can go.

Carson, S.J., T.M. Devinney, G.R. Dowling and G. John (1999) ‘Understanding institutional designs without marketing value systems’, Journal of Marketing 63(4): 115-130.

Eisenmann, T., G. Parker and M.W. Van Alstyne (2006) ‘Strategies for Two-Sided Markets’, Harvard Business Review 84(10): 92-101. (2017) ‘2017: Our year in numbers’. Accessed on 18 February 2018 on (n.d. a) ‘About’. Accessed on 16 February 2018 on (n.d. b) ‘Attract talent, save time’. Accessed on 17 February 2018 on (n.d. c) ‘Terms of Service (User Agreement)’. Accessed on 17 February 2018 on

Kumar, V. (2014) ‘Making ‘’freemium’’ work’, Harvard Business review 92(5): 27-29.

Randall, T., C. Terwiesch and K.T. Ulrich (2005) ‘Principles for user design of customized products’, California Management Review 47(4): 68-85.

Revell, S. (2014) ‘5 Ways the Internet has Changed Recruitment Forever’. Accessed on 17 February 2018 on

Thole, H. (2017) ‘Deze Nederlandse startup ziet de Brexit als grote kans – en krijgt €1 miljoen om te groeien in het VK’. Accessed on 17 February 2018 on

Pakkie – the new trustworthy transaction platform

Imagine you found a nice second-hand television online, but the seller lives in Groningen and you live in Rotterdam. Driving back and forth is not easy for everyone, but transferring money in advance and waiting to get your product delivered perhaps does not feel good either. How do you really know if someone does as he or she promised? And whether the product meets the expectations? This is where Pakkie comes in: a safe transaction platform arranging both payment and shipping.

The startup, launched one month ago (January ’18), combines payment via a third-party account ( and sending from one of the 5,500 connected parcel points of PostNL, DHL and DPD. This way, you can safely buy second-hand items via Facebook Marketplace or ‘’, because the money is only transferred from the third-party account once the package has arrived at the recipient. As both payment and shipment are arranged via one party, there is control over every step of the transaction. Hence, Pakkie makes selling and buying online much easier (Pakkie, 2018).

How does it work?
Within a transaction, there are always two parties involved: a seller and a receiver. The transaction works differently for both. When a seller has made a deal online, the other party can pay via Pakkie. At this moment the seller will receive a shipping label. Afterwards, the seller can drop his or her package at PostNL, DHL or DPD and once the package is delivered the seller will receive his or her money. The shipment can be followed via the Pakkie app. On the other hand, Pakkie keeps the receiver informed about the shipping process and after the package is received, the seller gets paid (Pakkie, 2018).

Sending a large package (larger than standard letter post) with Pakkie costs 6,95 euros and you have to pay 4,25 euros for a small-volume order (standard letter post, shipped in an envelope). Sending a Pakkie costs as much as sending a package from a store, without additional service costs (Pakkie, 2018).

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Efficiency criteria
Pakkie fulfils several efficiency criteria. Sellers can safely sell their goods online via Pakkie, without having to pay additional costs. Moreover, buyers can buy everything they like online in a safe manner. This way Pakkie removes the distrust of buyers and sellers and encourages people to buy and sell more second-hand instead of new products. In addition, Pakkie makes online trading easier, because it takes less time and effort to sell and buy second-hand products. Parcel deliverers could also benefit from Pakkie. With every distance of more than 30 kilometers, it is cheaper and more sustainable to send the purchase instead of picking it up yourself. On the other hand, users provide value for Pakkie as well by creating a bigger user base. Besides, Pakkie works with a commission business model: they charge a commission from each transaction. For every parcel that is traded via the service, the startup receives a fixed amount from the relevant parcel delivery service. This commission is below 1,00 euro per product sent, hence it is very important for Pakkie that more people will use this service. Furthermore, users are an essential part of Pakkie’s business model because without users the company would not even exist. This is the principle of value co-creation, where value is created in a multi directional way (Saarijärvi et al., 2013). Thus, the joint profitability criteria are met as both company (Pakkie) and users can benefit from the app (Carson et al., 1999).

Pakkie is feasible and takes care of several institutional arrangements. The company is fair, since it stimulates people to treat others the way they want to be treated as well.  In addition, the platform takes care of several concerns regarding security, fraud and scams, which no other marketplace platform has succeeded to do. Finally, the platform is transparent in a way that users can see where their parcel is and have full control in the transaction.

The future
Pakkie offers a solution to many people who want to buy and sell second-hand items online, but are reluctant towards the transaction process. The platform could lead to a more sustainable world with more second-hand trading. However, in a world where globalization is becoming increasingly important, especially within the European market, Pakkie should also start focusing on expanding abroad. Only if Pakkie gains enough users, the platform could expand all over the world.

Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999). Understanding institutional designs within marketing value systems. Journal of Marketing, 115-130.

Pakkie. (2018). Retrieved from

Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P. K., & Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review, 25(1), 6-19.





Farmers First: the Farmers Business Network


Farming is one of the oldest professions in the world, but one that has markedly evolved in the past century. Gone are the days where 41% of the U.S. workforce was employed in agriculture; as of 2000, a mere 1.9% remain, of which 93% has to rely on off-farm income to survive (Dimitri et al., 2005).

Farm income above avg income

And although graphs such as the one depicted to the left paint a pretty picture concerning the average farm household income, these numbers do not reflect that more than half of the households operating small farms (gross cash farm income < $350 000) typically incur losses from farming (Prager et al., 2017). This issue is made even more relevant by the fact that 90% of the U.S. farms actually consist of those small family farms. Evidently, only the largest players have the bargaining power and economies of scale to make serious profits in this cut-throat, behemoth-dominated industry.

Continue reading Farmers First: the Farmers Business Network

Studio – Have fun running on a treadmill

Running on a treadmill in your living room or at the gym can be rather boring. Also, there is no one there to motivates and monitors you. Many people, therefore, hire a professional coach to help them go through some training sessions. However, not everyone can afford a 40 euro/hour sessions guided by professional coaches. Another option would be attending group classes, which is much cheaper than having a personal coach; however, the timing of these group classes don’t always fit your schedule. These will eventually become excuses for us to skip a fitness session. Is there a solution?


CEO and founder Jason Baptiste had a goal to lose 50 extra pounds after he finished school and decided to run 5km every day on the treadmill. However, after hundred days of running on a treadmill, he found it extremely boring and discouraging. This gives him the idea to develop a platform which will improve the whole treadmill experience. Meet Studio, a treadmill app on your smartphones or smartwatches that will bring motivation convenience and excitement to each of your training session. After subscribing to their services, users gained access to classes coached by professional coaches that motivate and guides users through their training session. Every class is accompanied by playlists that users can choose from. In addition, classes are offered in different difficulties and in different lengths; users can choose the corresponding classes according to their own needs. The classes can be taken anytime and anywhere.

Engaging the users

It is not only about running on the treadmill, Studio collects distance, speed and biometric data from every user that took the classes and these will be imported into the Real-time Leaderboard. Every user is rewarded with the in-app virtual currency Fitcoin after each session depending on how long and how far he/she has run. Fitcoin will defined users position on the leaderboard. Furthermore, Studio elevates its gamification experience to another level by making all users start with the basic level – Basic bear. Earning more Fitcoin, by running more, will allow users to rank up. To further motivates users during their training session, the real-time heartbeat of the users will be shown on the leaderboard and so as their real-time Fitcoin balance. In addition, users can choose to click on the cheer button during the session to motivates other users that are also doing the same exercise at the same time. In the future, Studio is planning to enable users to redeem Fitcoin for real-world prizes. Even though Studio targets users that would prefer flexible classes as opposed to physical group classes, the app still managed to provide users the same motivation they would get in a group-based training session with the help of its real-time leaderboard.

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The business

Studio currently operates under a subscription-based model, which requires users to either pay $15 per month or a $100 upfront payment a year for unlimited access. The success of such Netflix and Spotify alike subscription model is dependent on the number of subscribers. To ensure that there is a sufficient and increasing amount of subscribers, Studio has to make sure that it keeps satisfying its existing users and at the same time keeps attracting new users. Like many other subscription-based business models, Studio offers new users with the opportunity to try out the services for free for a period of two weeks. Also, users can cancel their subscription at any time (for monthly subscribers). Every day, new trainings will be available for users to choose from. Besides, Studio has purchased full music licenses and therefore is able to offer a wide range of music for users to choose from. Studio is targeting both busy working professional and parents who often do not have time to visit the gym and own a treadmill at home. As for the professional coaches, Studio incentivized them to work for the platform by paying a commission of every listed class depending on the popularity of the class. Coaches are not limited to the number of participants in such platform compared to a physical classroom, there can be up to 20000 people taking their classes which is nearly impossible in a normal group training session.

Furthermore, it has been announced that Studio will partner up with treadmill maker Life Fitness to incorporate the Studio’s classes on Life Fitness treadmills in gyms. This will enable Studio to connect to an even larger audience as Life fitness is one of the largest and top manufacturers of fitness equipment. At the same time, having Studio integrated into the Life fitness treadmill will help Life fitness step into the digital fitness business.



References: – a unique business model is an online furniture retailer that was founded in March 2010. The company is UK based and has expanded to Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands in eight years (Sunderland, 2016). Even though primarily operates through their online channel, they do have great relationships with a large network of experimental showrooms across Europe, in which they showcase their furniture and designs (Milbrath, 2016). With a sales growth of nearly 50% annually, has become quit a success. Their unique business model has disrupted the supply chain and revolutionized the playing field of furniture retailers for good (Cassidy, 2017).

How does create value for their customers? has a customer centric business model, in which their customers are put in the center of everything that goes on. The customers get full control when it comes to deciding which furniture goes into production. By giving their customers this power, they have addressed and filled a void in the existing furniture market. Other companies, such as Ikea, have addressed the need for functional and affordable furniture. however, disrupted the market by successfully addressing the need for unique and affordable furniture (Aba Research, 2017). The customers get to decide, by voting on their favorite designs, which design ideas go from sketches into production. Furthermore, organizes a yearly “Made Emerging Talent Award” contest in which upcoming designers get to submit their unique designs and’s Unboxed online community get to vote on their favorite designs. If a design gets enough votes and wins the contest, the item gets produced and sold on within a period of approximately 12 months. The winning designer(s) get the well-deserved attention, which boosts their beginning careers, and more importantly, the designer(s) get royalties for their item(s). The unboxed community also allows for the customers to feel more connected to the brand and find likeminded peers. For unboxed community member, the ability to ‘co-create’ is a way for them to express their creativity and to incorporate their personal style into the product line of an existing company (Milbrath, 2016).

Efficiency Criteria has been able to set itself apart from other (online) furniture retailers. They have a close relationship with several independent designers, and in addition also have an in house design team. An advantage of their business model is that it allows them to quickly react to new trends and allows for trial and error. As a result of the designs being crowdsourced, the company is able to tailor their supply to customer demand. All of this enables the company to release new collections often and quickly. It also allows them make quick decisions with regards to the discontinuation of certain collections if they do not live up to the company’s expectations. In addition, the company tries to minimize its costs by primarily operating online, outsourcing their production and by creating close relationships with their suppliers. Also, the pieces that are sold by have a longer lead-time. This allows place orders in bulk, which further reduces their costs.

Another great way in which the company was able to set itself apart is by establishing their Unboxed community. It started off with contacting their customers and asking whether they were allowed to ‘come over and take pictures of the unique items in their houses’. Now it has turned into their own equivalent of Pinterest, in which their customers can upload pictures of their pieces. This is a great strategy that has to create user generated buzz and strengthen the community ties (Aba Research, 2017;, 2018). In addition, it is extra and free promotion of their products, because potential buyers can see the items in more real life settings and get even more inspiration.

In conclusion, by creating a customer centric business model, has been able to set itself apart from other furniture retailers. provides the consumer and independent designers with a platform that allows them to out their creativity and express themselves. The company has changed the game by not just focusing on functionality and affordability, but by putting the customer in the middle. By involving them with design ideas and giving them a community of likeminded peers they proof that they have been really listening to the needs of their customers.





Aba Research (March 22nd, 2017). ‘ – carving out a distinctive furniture-business model’. Retrieved from:

Cassidy, A. (September 18th, 2017). ‘ founder: ‘We want to be the new Ikea’’. Retrieved from:

Milbrath, S. (August 5th, 2016). ‘Co-creation: 5 examples of brands driving customer-driven innovation’. Retrieved from:

Sunderland, R., ( July 6th, 2016). ‘Online furniture boss gunning for Ikea: He set up shop just six years ago, but man behind is thinking big’. Retrieved from:





FlavorPrint: Personalizing your recipes through your tastes

How amazing would it be if you knew every meal you cooked would fit your tastes? McCormick & Company, a major player in the flavor industry, is reinventing traditional FMCG business models through its data-driven, customer-focused offerings. While the company generally manufactures and distributes spices, seasonings, and other products over 125 countries and territories (Amazon Web Services, n.d.), a shift has occurred from a product-centered company to a business model in which the entire customer value is achieved through a comprehensive consumer journey.

McCormick is continually moving towards innovative solutions to reach customers relative to competitors or FMCG companies in other sectors. The expected sales target of $5bn by the end of 2019 will come from e-commerce, innovation through platforms, and acquisitions of other companies (Nunes, 2017); evidently, digitization is driving the company’s growth. In 2014, McCormick created a spinoff company named Vivanda, through which a transformative product called FlavorPrint was developed (Nash, 2015).


FlavorPrint is ‘a technology that matches people with food they love’ (FlavorPrint, 2017). When users sign up to McCormick’s recipe platform, they are asked to fill out initial questions about their food preferences. Their recipe search behavior on the platform will continuously adapt the user’s ideal taste palate to recommend recipes that fit the user perfectly. FlavorPrint ‘combines sensory science and culinary science’ to ‘offer personalized recommendations for recipes, meals, and eventually wine pairings’ (Amazon Web Services, n.d.). FlavorPrint is able to change a person’s cooking habits by offering exciting alternatives that are customized to the user (while promoting McCormick’s products) (FlavorPrint, 2017).

Value to Consumers

Vivanda’s FlavorPrint follows a number of mass customization (MC) drivers while requiring little to no investment by the consumer, and consumers participate in the service because it offers them significant product utility. The extra costs for consumers are low; the quality of recommendations is high, no financial investment is necessary to use the service, and the effort of signing up to the platform is relatively low (Tsekouras, 2018). Furthermore, the FlavorPrint service works automatically, meaning that the consumer does not have to take any specific action to use the service, other than signing up to the platform. In short, FlavorPrint’s predictive analytics technology has made recipe selection much easier and more likeable, while demanding little time and effort from consumers.

Efficiency Criteria and the Future of Predictive Analytics in Food

In 2013, McCormick initiated a small beta program for its new technology. While a 1% increase in sales is very large in the industry, FlavorPrint quickly grew to 100,000 participants (while still in beta mode) and drove sales up by 4.9% (Amazon Web Services, n.d.). This was a sign that the company needed to ensure scalability for its platform, to allow millions of users to participate.

While financial data and statistics regarding platform usage have not been published, Vivanda has officially spun off from McCormick. In 2016, Vivanda announced a strategic partnership with and investment from German software giant SAP. This collaboration will ‘help our food industry partners to grow profitably by delivering increasingly personalized experiences and outcomes directly to customers’, according to E.J. Kenney, SVP Consumer Products Industry at SAP (SAP, 2016). The partnership indicates that Vivanda has shifted its strategy from focusing on McCormick customers to delivering its service to various players in the food and beverage industry; by targeting a wide range of food and beverage customers, Vivanda’s growth seems inevitable.


It will be interesting to see what the future will hold for Vivanda and the use of predictive analytics in food. McCormick evidently derives great value from the technology, but one has to wonder if the technology has its criticisms pertaining to a possible lack of understanding of consumer behavior or privacy issues. For example, while the technology takes into account various contextual factors such as consumer budget and nutritional objectives while recommending foods, changing lifestyle situations may prove it difficult for the technology to adapt fully to consumer’s lives.


Although FlavorPrint does not directly offer a new revenue stream, the new possibilities for consumer packaged goods firms to reach customers indicate a potential for significant impact on future sales for Vivanda clients. Customization/personalization lies at the heart of the service, which is why the business model provides companies with a way to target consumers much more directly than through traditional marketing.

Will you use FlavorPrint to find new recipes? Does the company have a bright future? Let me know in the comments!



Amazon Web Services. (n.d.). AWS Case Study: McCormick. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

FlavorPrint. (2017). FlavorPrint. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Nash, K. (2015). Tech Spin-off from Spice Maker McCormick Puts CIO in the CEO Seat. [online] WSJ. Available at: [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Nunes, K. (2017). Innovation central to McCormick’s growth strategy. [online] Food Business News. Available at:{CD115D1F-0E2B-4AE5-8295-8ED5DD8C1516}&page=1 [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

SAP. (2016). SAP and Vivanda Serve Up FlavorPrint Technology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Tsekouras, D. (2018). CCDC Lecture 3.