I am working on a curriculum piece (part of a larger course focusing on social entrepreneurship) about business models.  

The target audience will be primarily be non-business students/adult learners.  The context is a course in human-centered design.

Any recommendations for existing case studies that could be used in a classroom setting that ties in nicely with the Business Model Generation book.  

Because it is for a class, ideally it would a "teaching/learning" case study.

All ideas are welcome.


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I guess so John. My nephew is in Columbus, OH and I have been to Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago and Fort Wayne. Since you are looking the non-business kind of students I thought this case wd serve as a good model to study. Plus it is so much human centered. 

Recently, Dr MS Swaminathan, the Raman Magsaysay award winner observed that illiteracy does not mean unskilled. By extension, business-illiteracy is no bar on creating business models that create value across the value chain and for the business partners.  I guess you can tweak Dabbawallas for your purpose without too much hassle. Should you need any help, pl feel free to ask me.




This is a great case.
Have you tried mapping it onto a Business Model Canvas?


Why not take something very easy that anyone knows and that is not too overly MBA, like a library. It is pretty forward mapping that out but still insightful.

I put a library example I once made up on my blog: http://fieltnotes.blogspot.com.au/

Hi Erwin,

The Library example was very good. I liked it. It just shows the power of visualization in making things easier to understand.

The beauty of Canvas is that it can be used to represent the business model of any company regardless of its size. In the attachment, I represent the business model of both the mom-and-pop store and the Walmart. 



I made a Fiddle from your example http://bmfiddle.com/f/#/q8qS4

Hi Erwin,

Out of curiosity for the public Library that doesn't charge membership fees, what does its business model look like?  my public library lets you borrow books/games/computer time/etc. free of charge and offers very little "premium" material (like booking a room for instance).  I'm assuming its a non-profit venture but where to do they even find enough money to subsidize everything that's free?

Thanks Erwin- great suggestion.  A library would be a great introduction to the canvass.  

Thnak you all for this discussion and your contributions! I am a lecturer at Industrial Design Engineering at The Hague University in the Netherlands and I had exactly the same questions as John. For my course Implementing Business and Products I was looking for business cases as exmaples and to organise a business model challenge around. All these contributions were very helpful!

Im developing a course that will cover business model generation.

Rather than just explaining the various components, I'd like to be able to give the participants a case (text) describing a business, split them up in groups and have them map out the business model canvas.

I could have the groups work on businesses the each know, but I'd prefer they all work on the same one. So we can compare results.

All of the examples in the reply to this discussion are showing the resulting canvases.

Does anyone have any case texts that describe a business that could be used to give everyone the same basic understanding of that business?




This is a good point and similar to my approach for my current BM training courses. The pros is that it allows the audience to become more proactive and promotes co-creation, ideation and brainstorming.

As well it allows the teams to challenge the business model during the evaluation and questioning review process.


Hi John

This is not a direct reply to your question but may help. I'm working through examples presently of challenges I put to companies. I'm taking one aspect of the BMC and designing challenges around that aspect e.g. (in brief)

Publishing company

Selling to lower socio economic women mainly in age range of 15-20 and 24 - 35

Sell book for $1 via bookshops and newsagents

Distribution takes 50%

Authors 20%

Other costs 25%

Profit is $0.5

How do you quadruple your profit without increasing cost?


Invariably companies go straight for the Distribution cost (cost down)

Real answer is in appropriating the value of the unmet needs of customers

Need to get into the ecology of the customer

Example is of course Mills and Boons but I only ever reveal this after the event

I'm hoping others will share similar model challenges


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