The Anticafé – Reversing the Business Model

by Yann Cramer

The Anticafé – From Russia with Nove(lty)In the heart of Paris, between Les Halles, Chatelet and Beaubourg Centre & Modern Art Museum, the Anticafé has recently opened. Given the number of cafés and restaurants around, some of them much better located to catch the eye of the many tourists, one may wonder about the viability of the project.

However, over the past decade, another new entrant, Starbucks, has been massively successful in Paris. In a market that is close to saturated, it would be difficult to argue that customers were drawn to Starbucks for lack of competition. In fact, Starbucks’ success was down to addressing the unmet needs of a segment of the population for a wider choice of high quality coffees, no alcohol, wifi, comfortable premises.

Where Starbucks innovated by changing the product offering and consumer experience, the Anticafé innovates by reversing the business model.

Observing that:
Some people go to cafés to fulfill other needs than drinking, such as socializing, networking, informal business meetings, working in a different setting, relaxing,

The main cost element of running a café in the centre of Paris is going to be the real estate charge rather than the cost of beverages and food, the founders of the Anticafé have designed a ‘Pay for Time, Consume for Free!’ offer. For an hourly rate of €4 customers get access to:

– coffee and tea
– snacks and fruits
– fast Wi-Fi
– access to our projector, printer, scanner and board games.

Since consuming products is not the mean to extract value, customers are welcome to bring in their own food, beer or wine if they so wish.

While these are still early days, the Anticafé project illustrates how business model innovation can take place, no matter how saturated the market may be. Interestingly, anticafés already exist in other countries such as Russia, illustrating another point: the need to get out and innovate from the outside in, not from the centre.

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Yann CramerYann Cramer is an innovation learner, practitioner, sharer, teacher. He’s lived in France, Belgium and the UK, he’s travelled six continents to create development opportunities with customers or suppliers, and run workshops on R&D and Marketing. He writes on www.innovToday.com and on twitter @innovToday.

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