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The Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas was first developed by Swiss business theorist Alexander Osterwalder in 2008 and has been widely used in business education ever since. GVSU integrated the canvas into the B.B.A curriculum in 2010, teaching it in Management 330, Management 495 and Business 671.

Using a visual chart, the business model canvas ties together the nine basic building blocks of running a business: value proposition, customer segments, distribution channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partners and cost structure. How does the business model canvas differ from a business plan?  Where a traditional business plan is based on the unchallenged assumption of the success of that plan, the business model canvas operates on hypothesis and testing.

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Million Dollar Dreams

Noël Cuellar – Primera Plastics Inc.

The story of a $20 million business–started by a man who had labored as a migrant worker and been placed in a special education program because of language difficulties–is testimony to the tenacity, vision, and passion of entrepreneur Noël Cuellar, President and CEO of Primera Plastics, a plastic injection-modeling supplier based in Zeeland.

Cuellar’s success is especially notable in a business environment where Hispanic entrepreneurs are in a definite minority. In 2007, the U.S. Census reported that only 1.1 percent of the 817,000 firms in Michigan were Hispanic-owned (about 4.4 percent of Michigan residents are Hispanic, according to the 2010 census).

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Breaking Barriers

Amy Engelsman – Proos Manufacturing

As Amy Engelsman transitioned into the her role as CEO of Proos Manufacturing, she faced significant challenges: securing company financials; obtaining funding for purchase of the business; proving her leadership capacity to the lender; earning the trust and respect of employees despite having worked for Proos for more than 20 years.

As a female entrepreneur and business owner, Engelsman now experiences the challenges of running a business while also dealing with the traditional challenges that women face in the workplace, including those in executive positions. She believes her biggest achievement has been gaining the acceptance and acknowledgement of her peers in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

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Jason Mascari: Moasis Global

“I didn’t really take a traditional educational route in regards to starting a business.”

Like so many successful entrepreneurs before him, Jason Mascari came up with his big idea while brainstorming with a friend. “We were constantly throwing ideas around for years,” says Jason of his friend and co-founder, Ryan Golden. The two young entrepreneurs first thought of Moasis Global in 2008. In three years, the business has developed from idea to fully patented prototype.

Moasis Global is a web-based advertising platform that allows businesses to target specific geographic areas of interest. The company’s technology enables Moasis to outline an entire city with its patented grid technology and distinguish specific markets. Businesses can then choose to target sections of the grid more heavily with their advertising dollars or decrease spending in others. Users see where competing businesses spend their money and where the greatest market opportunity lies. “Businesses currently overspend in markets that they shouldn’t be targeting,” Mascari explains. Moasis is designed to help change that.

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Ryan Vaughn:Varsity News Network

“College is the perfect time to start a business. You have access to tons of resources, and it never gets easier to try something new.”

Ryan Vaughn (@RyanHVaughn) is the Co-Founder of Varsity News Network (VNN), an online high school sports media network, empowering high school journalists to gain relevant experience while ensuring that athletes from every sport receive the coverage they deserve. He earned his Master of Communication from Grand Valley State University in 2010.