Workshop 3: Developing Business Models

On February 25, 2021, from 5:30 – 7 p.m., DifferenceMaker held Workshop 3 which covered the topic of Developing Business Models.

Over 25 participants joined this informative and engaging event. Holly Lalos, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Program Director, kicked off the event.

Tom O’Donnell, Innovation Initiatives Senior Director at the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub, and Professors Carter Keough, Hunter Mack, and Kelilah Wolkowicz, DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellows from the Francis College of Engineering, were the workshop facilitators.

Tom took the lead as the guest speaker for the evening. He provided examples of companies with strong business models, such as Facebook, Zipcar, and Gillette. Each of these companies had unique products that served an unmet need, which contributed to their success.

Over 25 participants joined for this informative session!

Tom also presented a recap from the second workshop session: Assessing Opportunities and Value Proposition. Value must be brought to customers. It’s what makes them want a product or service, which is needed to keep a startup going. Whether a company is for-profit or nonprofit, the value needs must be compelling, differentiated, and gain attention from potential customers. It’s a necessary component to think about.

After the recap, the conversation shifted to the topic of business models. A business model is a design for the successful operation of a business, identifying revenue sources, customer base, products, and details of financing. A business model outlines and organizes all the aspects required for operation.

The business model is broken down into a variety of categories: Key partners, key activities, value proposition, cost structure, revenue streams, customer segments, and customer relationships are just some. These categories are like pieces of a puzzle – When put together, these pieces create the completed business model.

Tom O’Donnell presenting about each aspect about the Business Model Canvas.

Then, all participants broke out into breakout rooms with varying topics such as social issues, engineering, business, and more. Teams received a blank Business Model Canvas to work on for their ideas. Faculty Fellows and DifferenceMaker staff joined the rooms and provided students tips and feedback on their business models.

After the activity, everyone joined the main room and were encouraged to present their business models. Tom provided insightful feedback to each team that presented. Ideas that were shared included outlines for business models for projects An Apple A Day, Wonder Wheel, and others. The group presentations also provided as a great networking opportunity, as emails and chats between student attendees and faculty were exchanged for follow-up conversations and mentorship.

Thank you to everyone that joined DifferenceMaker for Workshop 3! To view a video of Workshop 3, visit the DifferenceMaker YouTube Channel. If you are interested in learning how to further develop your idea, build-up your team, and have fun, please register for the upcoming, final, workshop:

Workshop 4 – Delivering Your Rocket Pitch – March 2; 5:30-7 p.m. –


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