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Are You The Coyote or The Badger?

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February 11, 2020

By now you’ve see the uber adorable video about the Coyote and Badger who join efforts to hunt. 

Beside being a staple in the local and national news cycle this week, this uncanny partnership prompted a interesting dialogue surrounding  symbiosis.  That is, if you recall from grade school science class, this refers to the co-existence of two organisms or a different species in close physical contact to the benefit of both. The key to symbiosis is the mutual give, take and reliance from both parties.  Sounds a bit like the business world?  That’s why this week, we’re asking: should organizations adopt a symbiotic strategy for scale?

In his insightful article, Symbiosis Strategy – Creating the Ultimate Customer Value Proposition, Toni Keskinen suggests that when it comes to maximum consumer value, symbiosis is the ideal environment (as opposed to solely product or customer centric models).

Product centric model 
Companies sell and customers 
Buy. Sales driven corporate 
No actual customer relationships 
Customer centric model 
Customer is in the very heart 
Of the corporate focus. Company 
Is doing its very best in order 
to meet customers' expectations 
And create great customer 
Customers and a company are in 
Solid relationship, need eachothers 
and succeed together. 

His four dimensions of symbiotic strategy provide an interesting framework for thinking about collaboration-driven impact.

There Should Be An App for That.

I can’t count the number to times per day I ask myself, Isn’t there an app for this?  Chances are there is.  As of the end of 2019 the Apple Store had almost 4 million apps available for download, with Google Play rolling in a close second at 2.57 million Android apps.  What these platforms demonstrate is the symbiotic relationship between platforms, partners and consumers. 

Without the iOS or Android platforms, millions and millions of developers would be unable to offer innovative solutions at scale.  Conversely, by making these platforms accessible, both Apple and Google enable their brands to maintain a steady top market position, strong consumer value, and amplify the impact of novel technology apps. 

At VCM, we view the #ThursdayGathering (and much of our core programs) as platforms, that have guidelines for operation, but are curated open source spaces for sharing new concepts, trends and solutions by and for the communityWhat platform does your company offer to others?

Co-Captain Consumer

Should a company and consumer share the workload?  Actually, yes. Sometimes. Technology platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and others enable users to play a significant role in co-curating content. This not re-distributes the control to the consumer but also allows each user to ascribe individualized value to the product.  In short, these platforms are only as valuable as the number of users and the quality of their engagement.  Does your end user play a role in co-developing your product or service?  If only as a passive consumer, then consider making a change.

For The Good of the Order

With the exception of social impact or non-profit organizations, most businesses start by developing a business plan around a core product, service of other offering.  This is, in essence, serves as a blueprint for generating revenue and growth.  And, rightly so, given that the intended purpose of a for-profit company is to maximize shareholder return.  Yet, with the rise of B-Corps and more integrated corporate social responsibility mandates, being a for profit that just makes profit is going out of style.

Michael Porter explains: “shared value is about creating long-term competitive advantages by engaging with societies in deeper level.”  Therefore, the business survival now requires a sustainability strategy that balances between societal impact and the bottom line.  What social value does your organization create?

Points on Points

Do you love points?  I do.  The gamification of spending is an effective tool in boosting consumer spending.  And, the only things better than points from one airline or retailer is points from as many as possible!  Keskinen suggests the best example of coalition based symbiotic strategy is the famous loyal programs. These “spread current customer relationship and tie it to new partners enabling effective cross selling operation and increase in sales for all partners resulting a tool for market growth in all participating partner categories.”

It’s the reason why I prefer to fly OneWorld Alliance (vs. StarAlliance) airlines or shop at the retailers that maximize cash bach rewards.  According to BCG, the average US household belongs to 22 reward programs, with Millennials being the most loyalty program influenced generation. 

Plus, these iniatives generate a 100%  ROI at a 20% incremental share.  How is your company building coalitions for customer growth?

At VCM, one of our core values is innovation can’t exist in a vacuum.  That’s why we adopt a unique “collaboration only” approach which requires that every external program, activation or initiative in conjunction with at least 1 partner.  What would your organization’s impact look like if you adopted the same pledge?


Leigh-Ann / Venture Café Miami

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