Idea Lab 4: Business Model Creation with Karen Henken

Professor Karen Henken highlights important features of the Business Model Canvas

Photo of Idea Lab 4

With just two weeks left before the deadline for the 2015 Social Innovation Challenge, the room for Idea Lab 4: Business Model Creation quickly filled with students eager to refine their ventures. Idea Lab 4 focused on guiding students in how to develop a viable business model for the Social Innovation Challenge and V2 competition. Karen Henken, professor of Business and Social Innovation explained the importance of understanding how a venture creates, delivers, and captures value and social impact for its customers or beneficiaries. Professor Henken went over key aspects of both the Business Model Canvas and Social Business Model Canvas. She also emphasized that the success of any venture is tied to its value proposition, which is a promise of value to be delivered.

In order to adequately express the value proposition of a venture one must constantly ask themselves why; what is the purpose, why is this important, why should anyone care, what makes this venture unique? Professor Henken emphasized that a successful business or organization must differentiate their mission from their value proposition. The way to accomplish this is by thinking from the inside out. Professor Henken gave various examples of companies that have been successful at accomplishing this such as, Kiva. The mission of Kiva is as follows: “we are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty high quality service and products and low operating costs”. Their value proposition (why they do what they do) is that they “envision a world where all people-even in the most remote areas of the globe-hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and other.” Having a clear why has helped drive their business to success.

After Professors Henken’s presentation the students broke off into smaller groups with special guest mentors to help guide the students to refine their ventures. Each group was given a large poster of the Business Model Canvas, to help students visualize the different components of their venture. Students were eager to share their ideas and ventures with the group and received abundant feedback from mentors and other students. The event ended with a powerful reminder from Professor Henken that business can and should be used as a force for good.

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