Mapping a Circular Economy Business Model

Week 5 of the Global Retail Challenge

This is the fifth in a series of updates from the 2019 Global Retail Challenge, a seven-week design thinking case competition featuring student teams from around the world. Learn more here.

This week’s assignment offered students the opportunity to experiment with expressing their new ideas as product or service offering. Their job was to create three well-defined business models using the Business Model Canvas template. This week’s Mentors, John Kotlarczyk, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility & Waste Reduction at Walgreens and Lauren Stone, Senior Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility at Walgreens, helped teams sharpen their focus on the financials required to successfully launch their ideas and offered two options for them to think through the tension between the cost of a particular solution and the potential circular impact.
  • Option 1: Make a strategic choice to place small bets on pieces of a larger solution and then test your way to success. This option allows teams to make small investments and prove their way to success.  
  • Option 2: Make large investments to acquire a reputational boost. Sometimes there are negative implications of NOT doing something and that's a good time to make an investment in reputation even if the financials are not attractive. These investments have the potential for significant payoff in establishing customer loyalty, employee loyalty and employee engagement.
The mentors awarded top honors this week to six teams, congratulations to:
  • Team 2 - University of Arizona A,
  • Team 3 - University of Arizona B,
  • Team 6 - Florida State University,
  • Team 10 - Ohio State University,
  • Team 12 - Columbia University, and
  • Team 14 - Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University B.  
Here is a look at one of Team 3’s Business Model Canvas:
In week 6, teams have an opportunity to take a hard look at the financial case underlying their ideas, to ensure that there is an adequate financial business model supporting their proposed plans. It is possible to develop a good idea that creates value but is not financially sustainable over time.  For this assignment, the teams will develop basic financials to better understand the size of the total addressable market for their ideas in order to ensure that they can acquire users affordably and achieve revenues that exceed costs at scale. 

Here more next week, and take a look back at our first four weeks:
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4

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