Databasing Business Models

by Zulma Acevedo

Databasing Business Models

In today’s hyper-competitive and rapidly changing global economy, companies need to regularly ask whether their business model has the power to deliver the kind of value customers are demanding. Is it changing as fast as the world is changing? Are the old profit engines reaching the end of their life-cycle? Is there a danger that emerging trends will at some point render the current business model obsolete? Clearly, the only way to sustain success is to continually rethink, renew and reinvent the business model through strategic innovation.

In Innovation to the Core, Rowan Gibson defines a business model as “a conceptual framework for identifying how a company creates, delivers, and extracts value.” He describes a whole set of integrated components, all of which can be looked on as opportunities for innovation and competitive advantage. In order to innovate at the level of the business model, he says a company should “first unpack it into these individual components and understand how all the pieces fit together in a holistic way.” In Business Model Generation, Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur define these basic components using their popular “Canvas” framework, giving us a simple way to understand how business models are constructed, and how to redesign them for new value creation.

Now Marc Sniukas and Georg Stampfl have decided to offer the world a gallery of different business models (based on the “Canvas” framework) so that we can visualize exactly what has enabled companies like Google, Amazon and Apple to build and maintain their competitive advantage. We invited Marc and Georg to introduce us to this exciting new project, and to explain why it’s so useful to today’s business leaders.

Zulma Acevedo: Why did you create this site?

Marc Sniukas: There are actually a couple of reasons, why we created the Business Model Gallery. (1) During our consulting and executive education work people would always ask us for examples of business models to learn about business models and to also better understand what business model innovation is. (2) When it comes to business model design and innovation, we learned that people are always looking for inspiration and indeed need some inspiration to come up with innovative ideas of their own. It has been shown by academic research that most business model innovations are replications and new combinations of existing patterns. So having access to such patterns, or “design themes” as we call them, helps to think more creatively. And (3) as we prepared all these examples for our consulting and education work, we thought it might be a good idea to make them accessible to a larger audience. Hence as a database of business models.

ZA: What is your wish for it?

MS: Well, people should use the site for their inspiration and the site such provide examples of business model design themes, which organizations can apply to their own business model.

ZA: Any thoughts on how companies are embracing business model innovation?

MS: After the topic has been researched and discussed for a little over a decade now, we start to better understand it and organizations are looking into business model innovation to become more competitive, to differentiate themselves and gain strategic advantages. It is becoming more “mainstream” I’d say.

ZA: What inspires your visual thinking about Bus model innovation?

MS: The visual thinking on business models has certainly been started by the Business Model Generation work and the canvas. It is a good tool to visualize a business model, or at least to start the discussion. In the course of designing your business model you will certainly want to go into the details and beyond the canvas, but it is a good starting point.

ZA: How and when do think people will use the site?

MS: We have built the site to be used by individuals, teams and organizations alike. You can use the site to learn about both, traditional and innovative business models, you can use it as inspiration during workshops, and think about how to apply the design themes to your own organization, to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of certain business models.

ZA: : What are the key messages about Business Model Gallery you want people to retain?

MS: We’re building the world’s largest business model database as a great place to find inspiration and learn about business models and business model design and innovation.

ZA: You’re currently in the beta phase, we can we expect next for

MS: Currently we are testing the basic functionality of the site and collecting feedback from our beta uses. The second release will add many new features to the site, like for example to possibility to compare business models, export to pdf and powerpoint for easy use during workshops, and the possibility to save your favorites.

Other features we’re currently thinking about is the possibility to add and compare your own business model. We’re also adding design features to enhance the usability of the site, e.g. icons to quickly identify new business models, innovative business models or updates. We’re also adding information about our “learning experiences” in the next months and more detailed information on the design themes. And we will of course keep on adding new business models to the database.

Databasing Business ModelsBIO Marc Sniukas
Marc is a co-founder of, a partner at, a strategic innovation and transformation consultancy and a visiting professor at, where he lectures on Business Model Innovation within the executive masters program.

Databasing Business ModelsBIO Georg Stampfl
Georg is co-founder of, and co-founder of, a business model innovation consulting company, and a research affiliate at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen (Germany) where his research and teaching focus lies in the field of business model innovation.

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Databasing Business ModelsZulma Acevedo G. is the Latin America Editor, and provides Program Development and Innovation Consulting Services, for Innovation Excellence. Formerly with GBM Corporation and IBM de Colombia, she specializes in CRM, data analysis, competitive strategies & pricing, marketing and business partners management.

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  1. The idea of this website is amazing! It fills a vast gap not only for innovation management, but also for entrepreneurship. I was looking for something like this since a time ago. Very much looking forward to the final version.

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