Open Source Business Models for Circular Economy Video Series (8)

VIDEO 8 – Square 5: ‘Channels For Exchange’

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.

Introduction to the last two squares: Exchange Streams

Before I go now into square number 5 I just want to make a general remark about square 5 and 6.

Together they build a section called: “Exchange Streams”

So they are about things that are exchanged in the ecosystem. Like products knowledge trust and money.

As everyone knows a business model is not just about money. It is the whole process and structure how a company is established in and connected to a network of other actors. Retailers manufacturers designers workers customers and so on. The first 4 squares of our tool have been about this.

Now we are figuring out exchange in the ecosystem. Where does it happen? How to participate? And also where to extract value?

In a later more elaborated version of the “Platform Design Flowchart” tool this part might be more detailed. But for now it is just two questions. And the first one is:


Where is exchange happening?

Products knowledge trust money and so on is exchanged through channels.

For a physical item like a T-Shirt a possible channel is an online shop. Your own. Or someone else’s online shop for example Amazons. A local shop in the streets of your city is another channel. The shop can be fancy. Or less fancy.

Information for example is exchanged through websites or forums or workshops.

So in square number 5 we are going to list all channels that allow your ecosystem to exist. This will help you to understand it and secure it.

In general you can make here a distinction between channels that are run by you – like your own online shop – or channels run by others – like Amazon. For example: Knowledge about how to use an Arduino is available on many websites and in many workshops all around the world. But there is also an official Arduino website. And official Arduino workshops and events.

When we will talk about income sources in the next square this distinction can be important. It is often easier to extract value from a channel you run yourself than from someone else’s channel.

Let’s have a look at the channels. I will name a view examples. More you can find and contribute in the resources for this video.

One more time: I will mention very general channels. I will say “a forum” for example. But when you map out your channels you can be more specific. Not “a forum” but “the fairphone forum” for example.

Here are – very briefly – some channels:


  • Websites – for the exchange of information attention and trust.


  • Interactive Websites – like forums wikis or collaborative tools like Git.


  • Own Webshops – SparkFun for example started as a webshop and still has one.


  • Webshops of Others – Amazon is an example everyone knows. But there are a lot of other actors in the market.


  • Local Shops – again you can run your own or ask other shops to sell your products. Maybe you can get a big retail chain to add it to their assortment.


  • Workshops – workshops or other educational formats are an important channel for information and knowledge. And sometimes also for products! Many people buy their first Arduino at an Arduino beginners workshop.


  • Events – Events are good for the exchange of knowledge attention and trust. Fairs and conferences are examples. But I am sure you can think of more experimental ones too.


  • Physical Spaces – Physical spaces can be very important for the exchange of knowledge attention and trust. Open factories fablabs or repair cafes are examples. Physical spaces are often connected to events and workshops. But it can be open doors just everyday too. “Come by! And ask me anything.”


  • B2B platforms or databases – There is an endless number of platforms databases and networks for communication between professionals. I am sure you can think of some for your business.


  • The product itself – The product itself can serve as a channel in some cases. When you print URLS on it for example. Or when it is something you connect to the internet.


  • Certificates or seals – Certificates or seals can be very important for the exchange of trust. Redhat is a company that makes business with open source software. One thing they do is: They educate and certify developers. This is a valuable service. Because if a company decides to run an open source software they need an expert to maintain it for them. They will look for a certified expert. To be sure the person they hire is able to do the job. Redhat provides the service to test and certify.

Ok. So much for the examples. If you know more or have anything else to add. I am happy about your comments in the resources for this video.

And now let’s go to the next and final video in this series. It is video number 9 and its about “Value Extraction And Income Sources”.


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