Playground: The Business Model Canvas and The Value Proposition Canvas

Ever discovered something that got you hooked for hours in playing, experimenting, testing and adjusting to the given task in order to “get better at it”? Sure you did, it’s called learning about a topic that interest you. Then you also know how I felt yesterday and this morning when I finally started playing with The Business Model Canvas that I got during a workshop at Uprise Festival.

Now you have to know I have no experience whatsoever with business planning, but I admit there is something very attractive at discovering what makes some businesses succeed where others have previously failed. I mean, why Facebook and not MySpace, for example?

Anyway, getting to the point: I got the canvas, and I started working on it with no preliminary research about how its used. Here you have my first atempt 🙂

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I worked on a small company that is planning weddings with a thematic twist: 20’s, medieval, or industrial and nature – complete random example I choose for the sake of the test-phase 🙂 At the beginning I wasn’t giving much credit to this simple canvas divided into sections, and didn’t think it will help anyone in making it’s idea clear. Well, I was wrong. As I finished, I looked at it and I had so many questions about it’s use, like for example how are the blocks connected, aren’t they supposed to tell a clear story about my idea? What is value proposition anyway, as it seems that my idea was bringing nothing new (of course it doesn’t, it’s the first time I think of it…). I had to research and read peoples experiences with this model to get a better understanding of it.

The Business Model Canvas it’s exactly what it’s name says it is: a paper structured to help you put an idea into a business plan in order to test it. More precisely, it allows you to identify your customers and come up with a value proposition for them, identify the channels to deliver the value, how your customer relations will look like, the key activities and resources you will need, the eventual partners that should help you deliver the value proposition, where do you have to give money out, and how you get money in. The model was developed by Alex Osterwalder with his team at Strategyzer, and it’s just one of the tools that the company offers users to help them clarify and develop a new business from an initial idea, to a ready-to-pitch concept. If you browse their website, you find The Value Proposition Canvas, the Business Model Environment, the Test Tool, the Idea Track Tool, as well as the Progress Board Tool to help you organise everything in one place and track your progress. All tools are available to download, free of charge 🙂 So far, so good, but still irrelevant for most of my questions. I had to dig deeper: videos, webinars – how do I have to use this tool for it to bring me something, and why was this model a big thing in the start-up scene?

It took some time, as one thing leads to another. Here a video that explains how the model is build, and the way the blocks interact with each other:

By the way, this video is part 2 from a series of 6 movies that you can find here, along with other examples of The Business Model Canvas in action. This webinar offers useful tips and tricks, as well as best practises when using the canvas. Sadly, I cannot embed the video here, due to Strategyzer privacy settings on Vimeo.

I compiled the most important DO’s and DON’Ts for you here (all credit goes to Strategyzer):

– use sticky notes, don’t write directly on canvas – use bullett point on a sticky note
– work with short, clear words and add an image too if you can – blah-blah on the topic, just start and add a stick note
– use colour coding system – use colours randomly, it confuses people
– mark the ideas that are facts, and the ideas were you still have to test some assumptions – add a sticky note in a block, that doesn’t have a connection in another block – the canvas has to tell a clear story
– be precise for every single block
– use different canvases for different ideas

Ok, so the tool makes now more sense, and I’ve also learned some best practises, but somehow I am still not happy with my result. The idea is old, it brings nothing new, it’s boring, I don’t think it’s going to work as it is.

What is your business bringing to the customers, that they didn’t had before and they need? The value that your business is bringing to the customers, is called the value proposition: why is your product/ service special? Why should someone buy it? And in order to answer those questions, one needs to first start with it’s customers: who are the people that will use your product? What problems will your product solve for them? What is the added value they get in the end and why should they pay money for it? Since this are no new questions, luckily there are people who already found a simple, visual way to deal with this concern:

I have also found this webinar to be very useful in explaining how to use this canvas, as well as giving you some best practises ideas, and making some things to avoid clear.

I was feeling armed with enough information to give my project a second chance! I  started by working on my value proposition, and discovered in the process that maybe what people want is to have all they need when organising a wedding in one place. An online platform that allows them to get all services in one place, compare prices, view reviews, manage all appointments in an app, sign contracts online etc. These are the end customers, the couples that want to get married and are planning a wedding. A second stream of customers for my online platform would be the freelancers or small companies that offer services for wedding industry: restaurants, florists, DJ’s or bands, venue renters, wedding planners, wedding dressed boutiques etc. They also struggle with building a brand, getting to the relevant customers, managing their portfolio and so on. Here you have my value proposition for this ‘new’ idea.

value prop

Ok, perfect! I even started to get exited by the idea – maybe my sister would like to start a business together and just do it!? 😀 Armed with a more clear image of what my business would bring different to the marked, I revised my Business Model Canvas (so glad I used sticky-notes):

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Oh boy, this business world is exiting! Can’t wait for my next adventure. Do you know any of these models and have used them before? Can you share some tips that helped you as you were making progress? Looking forward to reading your experiences!

Until next time, dare to play with your ideas!

Yours truly,


PS: Canvanizer offers lots of canvases as well – to help you brainstorm better concepts!