Tag Archives: platform

Making the most out of your marketing efforts in the context of eWOM

Think about it, who is your favourite advisor when it comes to finding your next, undiscovered restaurant? Your mum or perhaps your best friend? Sometimes they might not give the best advice, luckily you have kind strangers who write reviews online, which you can consult. Review platforms such as Yelp.com, enable people to write and read reviews on products and/or services. But how do businesses handle marketing efforts in the context of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM)? This is an important question for managers since the rise of the Internet has changed how they allocate marketing expenditure, turning more to online advertising (Lu et al. 2013), but is this effective? To answer this question Lu et al. research the influence of promotional marketing on third-party review platforms.

What was their approach?
Lu et al. examined the impact of online coupons, keyword sponsored search and eWOM on weekly restaurants’ sales using a three-year panel study. They focused on restaurants since going out to dinner is a high-involvement service and eWOM is particularly important for high-involvement products and/or services (Gu et al. 2012). With high-involvement products customers spend considerable time searching for information before purchasing. Lu et al. collected their data from one of the largest restaurant review websites in China. Online coupons are displayed on this platform and the keyword sponsored search works as follows: restaurants buy keywords and when users search for restaurants using that keyword, the restaurants will be displayed at the top of the platform’s search results.

Key insights
One of the key insights Lu et al. found is that both promotional marketing and eWOM have a significant impact on sales. Keyword sponsored search and eWOM have a positive impact on sales. Likewise, offering online coupons has a positive impact on sales, however this relationship is not present for coupon value, indicating that the presence of online coupons is more important than their value since it increases awareness among users (Leone and Srinivasan 1996). Another key insight is that interaction between eWOM and promotional marketing is significant. The interaction between eWOM and coupon offerings is negative, indicating that they substitute one another and thus only one is needed to attract sales. On the other hand, the interaction between eWOM and keyword sponsored search is positive, indicating that they complement one another and together increase sales. Furthermore, if you would use both promotional marketing tools simultaneously, this would negatively impact sales since too many marketing tools  at the same time is experienced as too intrusive by customers. Altogether, these insights highlight different sources of information, with different levels of credibility, while still both sharing the power to inform and attract customers.

Looking to promote your business?
The study’s strength is that it presents some very useful advices when it comes to using promotional marketing in the context of eWOM. First of all, it is good to know that allowing promotional marketing activities on third-party platforms does not hurt the platform’s credibility and thus indicates some interesting marketing possibilities. According to Lu et al., you should stimulate users to generate more positive eWOM since this increases sales. Businesses could use online coupons to get customers’ attention, but if the volume of eWOM is high, this tool becomes less effective. In the case of high eWOM volume, businesses should rather buy keywords to increase sales. However, businesses should not use these two promotional marketing tools simultaneously since this decreases sales, rather they should focus on the tool that is most suitable for them.

Although these insights are useful, managers should note the study’s weaknesses. One of these weaknesses is the study’s generalisability. Firstly, the study only included restaurants from Shanghai, while other academics indicate the presence of cross-cultural differences (King et al. 2014). Secondly, the study focused on high-involvement products, while many studies examine low-involvement products, e.g. books and films, and find that eWOM has a significant impact on sales (Chevalier and Mayzlin 2006; Duan et al. 2008). Thirdly, the study focused on one platform, while other studies indicate that eWOM across platforms can impact sales (Gu et al. 2012). Therefore, future research could focus on whether the study’s results also apply cross-culturally, across different product and across different platforms. Another weakness of this study is the limited dimensions of eWOM and promotional marketing captured. For instance, Chavelier and Maryzlin (2006) indicate that the length of reviews also influences customers’ purchasing behaviour. Besides, the measurement of promotional marketing is two-fold, while other options such as banners or pop-up ads also exist. Future research could therefore investigate whether results differ for other promotional marketing tools and if adding more dimensions for eWOM might indicate different results. To conclude, although the paper has some weaknesses, it does not overturn the practical implications, managers should however be cautious and decide whether the study applies to their specific situation or if their situation deviates from the study’s setting.

Chevalier, J.A. and D. Mayzlin (2006) ‘The Effect of Word of Mouth on Sales: Online Book Reviews’, Journal of Marketing Research 43(3): 345-354.

Duan, W., B. Gu and A.B. Whinston (2008) ‘The dynamics of online word-of-mouth and product sales – An empirical investigation of the movie industry’, Journal of Retailing 84(2): 233-242.

Gu, B., J. Park and P. Konana (2012) ‘Research Note – The Impact of External Word-of-Mouth Sources on Retailer Sales of High-Involvement Products’, Information Systems Research 23(1): 182-196.

King, R.A., P. Racherla and V.D. Bush (2014) ‘What We Know and Don’t Know About Online Word-of-Mouth: A Review and Synthesis of the Literature’, Journal of Interactive Marketing 28(3): 167-183.

Leone, R.P. and S.S. Srinivasan (1996) ‘Coupon face value: Its impact on coupon redemptions, brand sales, and brand profitability’, Journal of Retailing 72(3): 273-289.

Lu, X., S. Ba, L. Huang and Y. Feng (2013) ‘Promotional Marketing or Word-of-Mouth? Evidence from Online Restaurant Reviews’, Information Systems Research 24(3): 596-612.



“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: https://consumervaluecreation.com/2014/05/18/viva-il-vino-exploring-wine-with-vivino/


Crunchbase. (2018). Vivino | Crunchbase. [online] Available at: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/vivino#section-locked-marketplace [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Freedman, B. (2017). The Launch Of Vivino Market Could Herald A New Era In Wine Buying. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianfreedman/2017/03/30/the-launch-of-vivino-market-could-herald-a-new-era-in-wine-buying/#35e56f975ed1 [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: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/investors-pour-20m-wine-curation-delivery-app-vivino/ [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Scott, K. (2017). Vivino: This app is designed to turn anyone into a wine expert. [online] CNNMoney. Available at: http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/01/smallbusiness/vivino-wine-app/index.html [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Vivino.com. (2018). About Vivino. [online] Available at: https://www.vivino.com/about [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: https://venturebeat.com/2016/01/12/vivino-raises-25m-round-led-by-moet-hennesseys-ceo-for-its-wine-discovery-app/ [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

SponsorKliks: A new way of fundraising


How many of you donate money to charity? And if so, how much? In 1999, on average, Dutch people donated 0.96 per cent of their income on charity. In 2015, this has dropped to 0.77 per cent (Pama, 2017). This shows a clear trend that people in The Netherlands are spending less and less on charities while the charities still need donations. Companies such as 4MORGEN and Sponsorkliks try to solve this problem by providing a new way of fundraising. These companies are examples of affiliate websites which donate part of the received commission to charity. 4MORGEN was founded in 2015 and went out of business earlier this year. Sponsorkliks still exists which makes the business models interesting to examine.

How does it work?

As mentioned, the business model of Sponsorkliks provides a new way of fundraising for charities. Sponsorkliks works with affiliate marketing which is defined as ‘a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards an affiliate for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’ (Murray, 2017). In this case, the web shops pay a certain commission for every order that gets placed via Sponsorkliks. In other words, if an individual clicks on the link that is shown on Sponsorkliks.nl and buys something on the linked website, Sponsorkliks receives a commission. This commission is often a certain percentage of the total purchase amount. Next, part of this commission (75%) is donated to a charity and the other part is revenue for Sponsorkliks (25%) (Sponsorkliks, 2017). The customer can decide which charity they want to donate to. In this way, people can donate money and support a charity without it costing them any money.

Efficiency Criteria

The business model of Sponsorkliks is based on joint profitability since both the company and the customers benefit from the platform. Of course, Sponsorkliks receives part of the commission as revenue for every order placed. However, the revenue is not the only benefit Sponsorkliks receives. The company is a social enterprise. A social enterprise is a business that applies a commercial strategy to maximize improvements in social, environmental and financial well-being. Furthermore, social enterprises can be structured as for-profit or non-profit. In this particular business case, for-profit applies since they keep part of the commission (Martin & Osberg, 2007). Since it is a social enterprise, Sponsorkliks contributes to the social well-being by motivating their customers to donate. This results in a positive feeling of contribution to society. Besides, the business model also provides value for their customers because donating money to charity will make them feel better. Therefore, the joint profitability is considered to be high.

Furthermore, Sponsorkliks meets the feasibility required arrangements criteria. If we look at the institutional environment, Sponsorkliks mainly corresponds to the social dimension since they actively participate in providing more donations to charity.


As mentioned, there are benefits for all the parties involved in the platform. However, 4MORGEN unfortunately went out of business this year. Sponsorkliks still exists but what about their future? A potential risk that could be seen at 4MORGEN is the low revenue if there are only few customers. The platform is a two-sided market where each side attracts more of the other. If there are more customers that buy via the website, more charities and web shops will join. If more web shops and charities join, it will attract more customers. Therefore, a low number of customers will result in little revenue. Besides, some customers of 4MORGEN showed concerns about the money actually arriving at the charity. If Sponsorkliks wants to succeed, they should be very transparent and clear in the way the donating works.

Concluding, there are still some challenges to overcome but the business model definitely provides value for all the parties involved. If everyone would shop via such a website as Sponsorkliks, the current lack of donations to charities could be resolved.



Martin, R. L. and Osberg, S. (2007). Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition. Retrieved from: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/social_entrepreneurship_the_case_for_definition

Murray, J. (2017). Affiliates and affiliate agreemens in business. Retrieved from: https://www.thebalance.com/affiliates-and-affiliate-agreements-in-business-398119

Pama, G. (2017). Nederlanders geven steeds minder uit aan geode doelen. Retrieved from: https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/04/20/nederlanders-geven-minder-uit-aan-goede-doelen-8274772-a1555259

Sponsorkliks (2017). Hoe werkt Sponsorkliks. Retrieved from: https://www.sponsorkliks.com/products/howdoesitwork-sk.php

4MORGEN (2017). Het verhaal van 4MORGEN. Retrieved from https://qa.4morgen.org/overons


Helix: How Your DNA is Choosing Your Wine

Imagine that you really like pizza. You probably have a favourite pizza – and a favourite place to get it – right? Let’s say your favourite pizza is a margarita. When you get the pizza and eat it, you will probably like it. However, do you not sometimes think something could have been done differently? Maybe there should have been less cheese, maybe it’s too greasy, or maybe the temperature is just off? Does getting the perfect pizza every time sound like a dream to you?  Well, it’s time to wake up then, because consumer genomics start-up Helix is very close to realizing this concept.

But first, let’s back it up a bit.

What are Human Genomics?
The whole concept of human genomics started off in medicine. A patient’s DNA would be sequenced, which means that “the exact order of the four bases in a strand of DNA” would be determined (yourgenome, 2016). Why does this matter, you ask? Well, with the exact order of the composition of somebody’s DNA, doctors could tailor their treatment, medicine, and pretty much every factor that would impact a patient’s health (Farr, 2016). Probably the most popular case of DNA sequencing is that of Steve Jobs, who paid $100,000 in 2011 to sequence his DNA in an attempt to let doctors gain more insight into his sickness and try to help him more effectively (Farr, 2016). Next to the value of DNA sequencing in medicine, Illumina – the company whose supercomputers are behind 90% of DNA sequencing ever done – has identified a use for DNA sequencing outside of the medical field (Farr, 2016).

The Birth of Helix
Helix – an Illumina spin-off – is said to “democratize genomics” (Farr, 2016). Illumina has managed to bring the costs of DNA sequencing down tremendously – partly due to decreasing lab costs and more lenient regulatory decisions in the US (Farr, 2016; Teo, 2017). Where Steve Jobs paid $100,000 in 2011, a comparable procedure would now cost less than $1000 (Farr, 2016). According to helix, DNA sequencing can – next to provide more insight into diseases – discover other personal matters like your lifestyle, personality traits, taste senses, and much more (Farr, 2016). See where I am going with this?

Helix provides many different products. They – for now – offer six different product categories (Helix, 2018).

  • Ancestry: These products help you find out where your ancestors stem from, to hundreds of thousands of years back;
  • Entertainment: This is the fast-moving consumer goods section, if you will. Here, you can get for example a wine tailored to your taste perfectly;
  • Family: These products are mainly meant for families that want to grow, offering them fertility information;
  • Fitness: Here, Helix wants to help you to “reach your full potential” by designing the perfect workout routine;
  • Health: This is the more traditional use of DNA sequencing as explained in the previous section;
  • Nutrition: Lastly, the nutrition products let you design your perfect nutrition plan that suits your metabolism the best (Helix, 2018).

Source: Helix.com

The Business Model
Helix has a new and unusual business model. As they work closely with Illumina, they have many valuable resources that help them analyse consumers’ whole DNA spectrum, whereas similar companies are able to only analyse part of it (Zhang, 2017). Consumers pay a one-time $80 fee to analyse their DNA and the rest is subsidized by Helix (Zhang, 2017). The consumers then choose what kind of products they would like to purchase, and Helix lets third-party companies create those products based on the genetic information Helix provides them (Zhang, 2017).
Helix has, in that sense, created an online platform with customers – on one hand – who gain access to the platform by letting their DNA be sequenced, and on the other hand the product developers (Molteni, 2017).
The business model is efficient in the sense that its platform brings together companies that offer very specialized, personalized products and consumers that are seeking such products and cannot find them in conventional retail channels. Customers benefit as they receive products that are tailored to their individual tastes to the maximum extent, and companies benefit as they cater to the customers. Also, as the companies get to know more and more about individual customers, they could use this information to develop tailored product recommendations. However, as will be explained in the next section, the efficiency of the business model might suffer from regulatory decisions and consumer privacy issues.

Talk About Personalized Products
Basically, Helix takes product personalization to the next level. Personalizing products has many advantages, for example customers’ craftsmanship is emphasized, and customers form a connection with the product if they have put effort into designing it (Nagle, 2017). However, writing your name on a wine label and getting the wine tailored to your DNA are two completely different things. Because DNA is pretty much as personal as you can get, there are potential drawbacks of the Helix business model. The first and most obvious issue is privacy concerns. If people are already freaking out about the cookies that are gathered on websites, why would they send their DNA to a company to get a product of which they could by a similar version in the supermarket?

Some companies using DNA sequencing store consumer data for “unspecified research” and might sell it to third parties (Niemiec & Howard, 2016: p.23). If consumers get suspicious about this, and privacy concerns rise through the roof, it might negatively impact Helix as well. Also, ethical issues such as discrimination based on DNA information are surfacing, too (Farr, 2016). Imagine that your life insurance gets to know your DNA information, this could highly impact the price you pay.

All in all, although customers like personalized products, the safety of information security measures – or even international regulations – need to be established before customers can completely trust the businesses.

The Future
In the future, Helix aims to create an “App Store” for their genomics products and services (Farr, 2016). They want to create the platform in such way that consumers can access their DNA information, browse the “App Store” to discover products that they like (Farr, 2016). The consumers just need to let their DNA be sequenced once – just like you create your Apple ID once – and can then browse the “App Store” as they wish (Farr, 2016). Helix compares their platform to the App Store rather than to Google Play, as they aim to review each seller, which is what Apple does do each app created, whereas Google takes a more lenient approach (Zhang, 2017). Right now, Helix already has 14 employees whose task it is to get to the bottom of the products developed by their featured companies (Zhang, 2017). The buzzword of the platform is that it is “dynamic” (Molteni, 2017). Helix wants to evolve and widen its platform as the research improves, resulting in more products and services to offer to their customers (Molteni, 2017).

So, if you ask Helix, the next time you eat a margarita, you will love it so much that you will feel it in your genes, literally.

Farr, C. (2016). Genetics Startup Helix Wants To Create A World of Personalized Products from Your DNA. Retrieved from: https://www.fastcompany.com/3065413/genetics-startup-helix-wants-to-create-a-world-of-personalized-products-from-your-dna [Accessed February 16th, 2018]

Helix (2018). How It Works. Retrieved from: https://www.helix.com/howitworks/ [Accessed February 16th, 2018]

Molteni, M. (2017). Helix’s Bold Plan To Be Your One Personal Genomics Shop. Retrieved from: https://www.wired.com/story/helixs-bold-plan-to-be-your-one-stop-personal-genomics-shop/ [Accessed February 17th, 2018]

Nagle, T. (2017) How Personalized Goods are Shaping the Economy. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2017/05/05/how-personalized-goods-are-shaping-the-economy/#b6bca33a1cce [Accessed February 17th, 2018]

Niemec, E. & Howard, H. C. (2016). Ethical Issues in Consumer Genome Sequencing: Use of Conumer’s Samples and Data. Applied & Transational Genomics, 8, pp.23-30.

Teo, G. (2017). The Second Coming of Consumer Genomics With 3 Predictions for the Future. Retrieved from: https://medcitynews.com/2017/07/second-coming-consumer-genomics-3-predictions-2018/?rf=1 [Accessed February 17th, 2018]

YourGenome (2018). What is DNA Sequencing? Retrieved from: https://www.yourgenome.org/stories/what-is-dna-sequencing [Accessed February 16th, 2018]

Zhang, S. (2017). How Do You Know When a DNA Test is B.S.? Retrieved from: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/07/helix-dna-tests/534402/ [Accessed February 17th, 2018]

Sounds Like Music To My Ears

By: Madeleine van Spaendonck (365543ms)

The Problem Situation

Do you ever pay attention to the music you hear in your favorite store? Many shops and hospitality businesses in the Netherlands still make use of outdated mix-CDs and standard playlists. Considering it has become increasingly important for retail businesses to provide a dynamic brand experience, how can background music be used to optimize the customer journey?

Atmosphere and its business model

Amsterdam-based Rockstart-startup ‘kollekt.fm’ addresses this situation with its new B2B music service, ‘Atmosphere’. Its key resource is its pool of musicians, DJs and producers, called ‘curators’. New clients undergo an extensive intake-procedure that allows Atmosphere to create a ‘music identity’ that reflects the company’s brand identity, target audience and desired customer experience. Consisting of a collection of moods, sounds and emotions, this allows the platform to match brands with the most suitable curators for them. Atmosphere allows curators to use the music on its platform to continuously assemble new playlists on a monthly basis. A streaming app is then used to play the music on-location. (Atmosphere, 2017)

Atmosphere’s value proposition is a better customer experience for brands and a new earning model for artists and music experts. It also incorporates feedback to create better playlists every month and learn from each brand profile to improve its services. Businesses pay Atmosphere on a monthly basis for using the platform, and the curators on the platform decide the price of their service.

Co-Creation Efficiency Criteria (Carson et al., 1999)

Atmosphere is a two-sided platform that connects retail/hospitality businesses with ‘curators’. The business model allows for joint profitability, as it enables businesses and curators to interact to create value together and maximize their payoffs. A study conducted by the Stockholm School of Economics found that background music that matches brand identity can increase store sales by at least 30% (Johansson & Moradi, 2015), which presents a measurable potential financial output for businesses. The curators suggested by the platform are picked by a particular company on the basis of the quality of their playlists and close fit with the brand, which incentivizes them in terms of effort to deliver the most suitable music sets and thus get rewarded in return. To facilitate this, Atmosphere invests in algorithms and models to create accurate brand profiles.

Furthermore, internal institutional arrangements are present in the form of ‘rules of the game’. Multiple curators are suggested to the client, who can make the final choice based on music samples. To stay ‘matched’ with a company, the chosen curator must continuously produce high quality work; otherwise, the company will switch to another curator. In terms of institutional environment factors, the legal environment of the business model poses the most significant threat, as songs are often copyrighted. Atmosphere has addressed this issue by acquiring the license rights for all the music that is available on its platform. This allows it to be used for commercial purposes. However, this is a continuous process; if Atmosphere wishes to attract and keep customers on its platform, it needs to constantly update its music offering.


Atmosphere. 2017. How We Work. [ONLINE] Available at: https://getatmosphere.com/how-we-work/. [Accessed 14 February 2017].

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

Johansson, G., & Moradi, J. (2015). What Does Your Brand Sound Like?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.soundtrackyourbrand.com/static/content/press/what-does-your-brand-sound-like_pdf_eng.pdf. [Accessed 13 February 2017].

Kollekt.fm. 2017. Company Web Page. [ONLINE] Available at: http://kollekt.fm/. [Accessed 14 February 2017].

RetailTech. 2017. Artists Select Music For Retailers . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.retailnews.nl/tech/8TtNf0gzR2OQ2jAgzIUdOQ-28/artiesten-selecteren-muziek-voor-retailers.html. [Accessed 14 February 2017].

Silicon Canals. 2017. Kollekt.fm’s Atmosphere will find the right tunes for every company. [ONLINE] Available at: http://siliconcanals.nl/news/startups/kollekt-fm-atmosphere-finds-the-right-tunes/. [Accessed 13 February 2017].

Showaround: Disrupting the Industry of City Tours

City tours are a great way to discover new places. However, often the tours only visit the touristic places and can feel somewhat generic. To be able to experience the more authentic feeling of a city, local guides are a perfect solution. Though, finding these locals may be a hurdle and therefore Showaround is here to help you out!

“There’s is no reason to be just a mere tourist anymore, not when locals can show you an edgier, more beautiful and more authentic version of their city.” – Showaround

What is Showaround?

Showaround is a platform which connects local guides with tourists in 198 countries and 7202 cities. Showaround was launched in June 2015 by Linas Sablosvskis and currently 75744 guides are signed up.

Locals have a profile with their interests, spoken languages, hourly rate, reviews and feedback from tourists. As a tourist, you are able to find guides based on the city you are visiting. Another option for tourists is to ‘create a trip’, on which locals are able to respond with an offer.


When the guide has accepted the offer, the tourist pays Showaround and you can message your guide via the platform’s messaging system, to tailor the tour. The money will only be transferred to the guides, when there are no complaints. Also, they provide a money-back guarantee to the tourists.

How does the business model work?

Showaround is able to make revenue from these tours, by imposing an 18% commission on each tour, paid by the guides. This 18% covers the costs they incur, which include support, platform management services and promotion.

The cross-side network effects are important in this business model, since the value to a tourist depends on the number of guides and vice versa (Granados et al., 2008). This is beneficial for Showaround, since they also have two competitors who offer similar services with less guides, Tours by Locals and Shiroube. Furthermore, this network effect raises barriers to entry, because of the users that have no incentive to leave (Granados et al., 2008).


Efficiency criteria

One of the problems, which can be found in any ‘gig’ model, is that the guides are not employed directly by Showaround. This excludes them from employment rights, such as right to a minimum wage, breaks and restricted working time and a pension scheme (McIlroy, 2016). Until the law is able to catch up, Showaround should consider who is working for them and how they are treated.

However, it is clear that there is joint profitability for both consumers and Showaround. Tourists are able to experience the city in a tailored and authentic manner, for little costs and are able to choose from many guides. Locals are able to flexibly make some extra money, share their passion and make new international friends. On the other hand, the firm does not require any assets, except for the platform, and therefore incurs little costs.

Showaround might be your solution to experience a new city in an authentic way!


Granados, N. F., Kauffman, R. J., & King, B. (2008). How has electronic travel distribution been transformed? A test of the theory of newly vulnerable markets. Journal of Management Information Systems25(2), 73-96.

McIlroy, E. (2016, March 18) Comment: ‘Gig economy’ – stretching blurred lines of employment to the limit. Retrieved from <http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/business/business-opinion/comment-gig-economy-stretching-blurred-7578540#0XA5wrgGAYSgODIr.97&gt;.


You’re saying it wrong! It’s community relationship management, not social customer relationship management!

The use of social media has exploded over the last decade. As an example, Facebook has over 1 billion users worldwide, of which more than 800 million use the platform on a daily basis (Rademaker, 2014). According to the article from Ang (2010), as a reaction many organizations have dived into social media platforms hoping to enhance organizational performance. These organizational efforts to benefit from social media platforms (especially within the functional areas of sales, marketing and service) have been filed under the term social customer relationship management (social CRM). However, for many managers it is unclear how social media platforms can be leveraged to benefit their organization. The author of the article suggests this is partly due to the fact that customers are confused with online community members. The popularized tem social CRM is there for incorrect. He suggests the term community relationship management (CoRM), as it better reflects the characteristics of what people do on social media platforms.

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Staff Finder: The end of employment agencies

According to Marjolein ten Hoonte, permanent contracts and collective employee agreements do not exist in 2030. Ten Hoonte is the general manager Labor Market of Randstad employment agency. According to her, the only thing what matters in the future labor market are your skills and competences (NU.nl, 2011). If this is true, then creating a platform between employees and employers would be a great opportunity.

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A Real-Life Case From The Netherlands: Tutoring Platform BijlesMatch.com

From the early days of my high school period, I wanted to start my own venture. In what industry did not matter. To me, it was all about innovation, changing the way things work. With great innovators; such as Bill Gates, Tony Hsieh and Elon Musk in my mind, I started to come up with ideas. Hundreds of too ambitious, but unrealistic ideas passed. Finally in my last year of high school, after multiple failed ideas, BijlesMatch was born: an online platform on which tutors and students could find each other (hence the name bijlesMATCH, bijles is dutch of tutoring). We wanted to add value by checking all tutors  on quality (teaching and social skills) before allowing them on our platform. After hours of fruitful discussions with a classmate, I knew how to execute this idea. I was determined to make something out of it, instead of making it another failed idea. My classmate wanted to join, I needed help, so we started this adventure together. An adventure that would still last 6 years later…

 Platform blueprint and development 

Initial blueprints of BijlesMatch platform

Knowing what to build, we still did not knew how to.  We started off with making a list of users-types and functions needed. In the end we constructed a flowchart in Microsoft Visio. The core of the platform became a database with introduction movies per tutor and a filter-function for customers to find the perfect match. We determined to do the designing ourselves and out-source the complex coding. Weeks of developing, a couple of thousand euros (for the complex coding) and five weeks of testing further, we finally had the result:

Database with tutors + filtersystem on website.
Back-end for tutors, customers and administrators.


Pilot and kick-off time
We determined to start in Groningen, The Netherlands (our home city). Our personal network was large in that city and knew where to go if we needed any help. The perfect place for us to realize our first venture. The first step was to recruit tutors via social media and word-to-mouth campaigns. It was our strategy to delay our kick-off until we could cover all high school courses with our tutors. Within one week, we received tens of applications; a positive sign of the abundance of students willing to  tutor. After many interviews, we added the best 18 to our database. Now, it was kick-off time!

Kick-off time!
For the first months, we received nothing but visitors. Our conversion rate was a disappointing 0.00%. We promoted our platform via Facebook, Google Adwords and flyers/posters on high schools. After thorough analysis of our user-data, we recognized that our sign-up page was too complex (exit-rate of 85% after 2 min. of visiting). In conjunction with our developer, we redesigned the sign-up page. It helped a bit, we managed to get a conversion rate of 0.7%, which we still considered to be extremely low. Hence, we lifted the improvement process a level higher: user-interviews. After multiple interactive reviews with customers, test-users and tutorsl we found three major issues:

  • Visitors dislike paying prior to received the contact-details of the tutor.
  • We hided contact information somewhere in the great depths of our website. Customers hate this.
  • People did not want to choose their own tutor, they wanted someone with experience to do this for them.

It became evident that if we wanted to turn BijlesMatch into a success, we really had to shift our focus: so we did.

Major Strategic Turnaround: customer-centric approach
The idea of a controlled platform on which students and tutors could find each other sounded great, but did not convert (at least not ours). Hence, we re-engineered our entire platform based on the three major issues mentioned above. We determined to put the customer central and do everything he/she wishes for:

  1. We deleted our core: the entire database and filter-system
    The idea of people selecting their own tutor sounded nice, but people did not utilized it. Instead, we solely placed a simple form to place a tutoring request. We promised it was entire free to place this request and that we would contact the potential customer within 24 hours.
  2. The prior register and payment steps were deleted.
    On the front-page our contact details were added. People could contact us at any time for a tutoring request. Moreover, we added a free trial tutoring session of an hour for new customers.
BijlesMatch FrontPage 2.0.
BijlesMatch FrontPage 2.0.

The result and what’s next?

Number of views on BijlesMatch till Jan. 2015
Number of views on BijlesMatch till Jan. 2015

In 28th of December 2014, the strategic turnaround was applied on our platform. Above our imaginations, we managed to increase our conversion rate with 357% to 5.1% in January 2015. The latter, in combination with a 200% increase of visitors, resulted in a profitable business model. Currently, we are in May 2015 and we already expanded to Rotterdam. Our conversions rates are going stable around 5% and have more than 70 tutors and 3 regional manager employed. BijlesMatch is currently recruiting tutors in Utrecht and Amsterdam for further expansion.

Lessons learned
The journey through idea-creation, execution, failing, redeveloping and succeeding taught us a lot. For us, the largest factors for a successful platform is: simplicity, customer-convenience, adaptability and constant (peer-) reviewing. Idea in theory and in practice differ a lot. We thought we put our customer central from the beginning, but actually we did the opposite. The main lessons we learned is:

“Stay open for failure and constant change!”

One of our introduction movies used on our initial platform:


1) Original webpage of BijlesMatch: http://www.bijlesmatch.com
2) Google Analytics: https://www.google.com/analytics/
3) Click! Verleiding op het Internet, Aartjan van Erkel, 2015
4) Don’t make me think, Steve Krug, Second Edition.

Eye on Elderly

Look out for the elderly with the Eye on Elderly Platform

Close your eyes, and imagine for a minute to be 70 years old. You are retired, your kids have grown up and even have kids themselves. You have recently moved to an elderly home, because you need help and your children do not have enough time, caught between taking care of your grandchildren and working from 9 to 17. So there you are, sitting behind the geraniums, hoping for some human contact (it has been 7 days since your family last called or visited). What do you do? …

Well, you can open your new laptop, go to EoE online platform and sign up for bingo night!

Eye on elderly website from POV elder v.2

That is exactly what EoE is intended for, to help lonely elders, elderly homes and volunteers to get in contact with each other.  EoE is an interactive platform, where these three groups can organize and sign up to activities. In these modern times the internet has become one of the main resources and facilitators for social interaction, and despite what many say, even elderly are catching up with the new trend (see Van Berkum 2013, Akkermans 2013, ANBO 2014).

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