Who is this guide for?
When you need to pick a business model for your startup, there are many options to explore. As a guide, we’ve handpicked dozens of innovative revenue models and partnership ideas.
Browse these sample business models and copy the ideas that fit your needs. Feel free to use all the examples and tools as inspiration for your business plan. Want help or advice? Reach out!
Business model inspiration
How do I make money?
The most common business model options used by e-businesses and online services. This list is not limited to digital revenue streams
Free (or nearly free) for the user:
- Early exit strategy
- Pay-what-you-want (PWYW)
- Tip jar/donation
- Freemium model
- Barter or swapping for services
- Barter or swapping for products
- Commission-based model:
- Auction model
Third party options:
- Advertisement (ad-based) model
- Affiliate/referral fee
- Get-one-give-one model (G1G1)
- Franchise model
Paid (direct sales business model):
- Subscription model
- Premium model
- Pay-per-use model
- Add-ons/In-app purchases
- License fees
- Single purchase model
- Pay-as-you-go model (PAYG)
Mixed business model:
- Razor and blade model
- Open source model
- No frills model (discount or budget model)
Companies to learn from
Page 1: All the essential information is captured in a clean visual to make it easy to understand how each company actually works.
Page 2: For each card, we’ve added related business models. We’ve also highlighted the most innovative components of every venture.
Doorsteps sells its online service via a subscription fee to agents and loan offices. But it also takes a commission on the services of other providers, who receive leads through the platform.
Jawbone UP makes money by selling data tracking wristbands at a retail price of $129.99. Users can use the free app to get insights into this data.
Friendsurance works as a broker between Policy Holders and existing Insurance Partners. They’re letting customers share risks with friends, allowing them to lower prices due to reduced fraud & process costs, better risk pools, etc.
This partnership has two revenue streams:
– A reduction in cost by lowering the ink consumption.
– The supplier taking back waste material makes it possible to sell unused ink again.
Changers makes money by selling solar panels + batteries. In the Changers shop, where community members can redeem credits for products and services, they give exposure to green brands, which pay a commission fee for the leads.
Glow sells “data insights” regarding conceiving to Research Institutions & gives exposure to trustworthy Infertility Treatment Clinics. The data is generated by users who use the Glow free fertility-tracking app.
Shiply works as a broker, taking a commission on transactions. Transport service providers’ bids are subjected to a tiered fee structure (4%-10%, depending on the amount of the transaction) called the success fee. Additional, an Auction Service Fee is requested which covers the online service.
Uber takes a 5-20% commission on all the rides made through its service. Since all payments are done automatically through the app, Uber is sure to capture a part of each transaction.
Karma sells the Karma hotspot for $99 and additional bandwidth for $14 per gigabyte. If you’d like to purchase a data pack, Karma offers some discounts: $50/5Gb & $180/20Gb
Sanergy generates revenue by selling fertilizer made out of human manure to other companies. They collect this waste through their not-for-profit franchising brand “Fresh Life Toilets,” which in turn supports entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
Kaggle makes money in two ways: With Kaggle competition, they receive a “listening fee” for each competition posted on the platform. Also, they provide a service for matching companies to the top 0.5% of their community, which they call Kaggle Connect.
AliveCor makes money by selling ECG devices ($199) that fit on existing smartphones and via their AliveInsights Service – a professional analysis service that makes it easy to get expert insight on your ECG readings.
3D Hubs takes a commission of 15% on every 3D-printed product ordered through the platform.
Decide works as a broker between people that want to buy the best deal, and retail companies like Amazon. Besides their free product advice, they also provide a pro-service from $2.5/month offering additional services like price guarantees, indications of the best time to buy….
SFpark makes money by providing parking spaces in the San Francisco city area. Parking prices are incrementally raised or lowered in SFpark regions based on demand.
ASAP54 makes money by selling items from partner retailers to consumers, upon which ASAP54 earns an average commission of 5% per item sold.
Alfa Bank requires their new sportive customers, who are interested in the free “Alfa Activity” account, to sign up for a regular bank account – which costs 59 Rubles (€1,20) per month – and a free internet account called “Alfa Click.”
Patients Like Me offers a free health community service to its users. They make money by selling the data, generated by the community, to pharmaceutical companies.
23andMe makes money with personal genetic tests, providing reports on lineage discovery & +240 health conditions. It’s believed that their DNA research studies & surveys will soon be an additional way of making money, with a mainly B2B focus instead of B2C.
Offering their motivational service for free, GymPact makes money by taking a cut when they pay out rewards to members who successfully met their Pact.
Narrative (Memoto) sold camera devices ($279), and offered a subscription service for the data storage system ($9/month). Different apps were set to be included in the subscription service.
Providing the platform for ‘free,’ Airbnb takes a 3% commission on the host‘s earnings and asks a booking fee of 6-12% to guests for every booking they make.
Giffgaff works as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator. MVNOs have business arrangements with traditional mobile operators to buy minutes of use (MOU) which they then sell to their own customers.
SFR telecommunications works in a partnership model with other service providers. After a set-up fee, local school administration, taking a 3-year commitment, pay a monthly subscription fee to a separate leasing company, who disburses it to the different service providers.
Drivers pre-pay their energy for the next 10 years, Tesla on its turn invests the money in the Supercharger network and makes sure the energy provided becomes cheaper. Furthermore, competitors pay Tesla for every car using the network.
50+ business model examples
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