Open Source Business Models for Circular Economy Video Series (6)

VIDEO 6 – Square 3: ‘Your Benefits

From a Video Series about ‘Open Source Business Models for Circular Economy’ – produced for the Open Source Circular Economy Days (OSCEdays). See our original post on Open Source Circular Economy Days for the complete set of resources: tool downloads, explanations, videos, script, links.


How Do You Benefit From The Roles and Actions?

If you open up and enable an ecosystem of other actors it should be something you can benefit from. So this square is about potential benefits from going open source. It is important to find out which benefits you want to activate for you. Remember in video number 2 and 3 I said that you should create your project or business in a way that it works BECAUSE it is Open Source not DESPITE of it. And this has a lot to do with the benefits you can activate for you with Open Source. I will go now through examples. In the resources for this video might be more by now. Keep in mind that in your project or business you will probably not be able to activate all of these benefits. But some.

Ok. Here is the list.

Potential benefit one is:
Better products – with more Possibilities – When people can add features to your product or come up with new surprising and openly available uses for it – the product gains in possibilities! Remember the incredibly rich Arduino or WordPress ecosystems or the Berlin Grid I explained in video number 3 when I was talking about platforms: Openness enabled network effects that elevate the product constantly.

Another possible benefit is:

Better products – easier to Maintain – If you have a circular machine or object in your house with open building plans it will be easier to repair or maintain it. Customers can do it themselves. Or – probably more likely – find and hire someone to do it.

Another possible benefit for you is:
• Better products – Easier to Trust – In the world of software it is quite clear. If you really want your customers to trust the security of your software you make it Open Source. Independent experts can check and confirm then that there are no backdoors to spy on you. But also with analogue objects – when they are open repairable maintainable and so on – it is easier for customers to trust the product. Because they can control it. I trust WordPress. Because I know. Even if Automattic goes down next week. I will be able to find someone to take care of my pages. Because the source code is open. Longevity and trust is enabled.

Another possible benefit is:

• Better products – easier to Resell – If the products are easier to support repair reuse and to recycle – they might also be easier to resell. The better investment for the customers. The better product. This can be a benefit for you. Especially when you take part in the whole reselling business.

Another possible benefit for you is:
• Better Product Innovation – If you are part of an open ecosystem where people can innovate all the time and everywhere you can benefit from that. I’ll give you an example. When Arduino entered the market a lot of people started to connect it to clothing. Creating smart wearables. Something Arduino did not see coming. The Arduino is a bit big. And tricky to sew on. But other companies discovered the potential and created smaller Arduino clones easier to sew on. Arduino learned from that and created an own product like this. The Arduino Lillipad. A now famous tool in the fashion tech scene. Before they created it they knew there is a market for it.

Another possible benefit for you is:
• Reduce Costs for Legal Issues Security Measures and Research & Development – If you are open it can help to save money. Patents for example are expensive. And if you try to keep everything a secret – when you make all your partners sign complex secrecy agreements – and you take all kinds of measures to make sure nothing slips through your factory walls – this can all become expensive. Also if you do your innovation indoors and closed and bring a finished product to a market untested it is risky. But if you do the innovation in the open to begin with you can get constant feedback and pointers to the right direction. And maybe you picked up the idea from your ecosystem anyway. Transform customer hacks into real products. – So being in the open can save you a lot of money for different reasons. I’ll name some more in the next point. And you can use this money for other things. Nathan Seidle the founder of Sparkfun says they don’t file patents but rather use their resources to innovate all the time and being faster than everyone else.

Another possible benefit for you is:
• Reduce Costs for Collaboration Education and Recruitment – Having an Open Source workflow can make you much more efficient. I talked about this recently in a blogpost about the way we work in the OSCEdays [LINK] where we do everything in public. For example it is easier for us to onboard new collaborators. Because we don’t have to explain everything over and over again. Everything is there to pick up for those that want to get involved. Adding new people is a lot easier. Good documentation can make you also more independent from certain people – like mighty knowledge keepers. Because everyone can look up how things work. This can result into a more stable project and a better atmosphere in it.

Another possible advantage is:
• Reduce Marketing Costs – Viral Marketing – People browsing the web are looking for good resources. If you provide useful information they are more likely to share it. Also if you enable a community to do interesting things – they will start to talk about it. I have never seen an official Arduino add. But so many different people told me about it. Also the more people take on the Berlin Grid the more people will explain it to their customers and communities. A decentralized marketing campaign where every company involved benefits.

Another possible advantage is:
• Grow Green Reputation – The Open Source Circular Economy Days is not the only community in the world that has understood that Openness looks like the potential key driver to a truly sustainable circular world! The number of initiatives is growing quickly. And just Openness alone already has a pretty good reputation. It is connected to education democracy and freedom. All very positive concepts. And the more it gets connected to sustainability the more green reputation it entails for those who are open.

Ok. So much for some possible benefits for you. Many of them are very general. If you go in to details for your specific project product or company you’ll probably find much more specific benefits.

It is important to understand that most of these benefits are much harder or even impossible to activate with a closed source approach. So building on this potential benefits is key – or at least very interesting to think about.

Ok. So much for Square Number three. In the next Video – Video number 7 – we are going to talk about square number four in the “Platform Design Flowchart” tool. We will talk about “The benefits for the Network.”

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