Open Source Business Models
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ModelDescriptionApplicable to P2PU?Notes
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Brokerage/transaction fee
Revenue based on unique information collected by the org (platform tax)UnlikelyAt this point, P2PU has not constructed itself as a platform, and its commitment to free and open-source content does not lend itself to any kind of platform tax.
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Commercial LicensingUpselling to a commercial/enterprise edition of open-source productYesIf P2PU is able to make a move into employee training or establishes relationships with companies that want to provide learning/connection opportunities for customers (like hotels), developing a commercial/enterprise version of their complementary products could be a worthwhile project.
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ConsultingCustom work for clients that goes beyond supportMaybeIf P2PU were to engage in custom, paid work, it would need a strong filter for evaluating proposals. The two main filters would need to be (1) cost-effectiveness and (2) contribution to the overall ecosystem. For example, if an interested customer came to P2PU with the proposal to pay for a new dashboard feature, P2PU should only accept if the payment if two conditions are true: (1) the payment will both cover the entirety of the time required to create the feature and the opportunity cost of spending time on it and (2) the feature was already on the product roadmap and backed by evidence that others in the P2PU ecosystem would benefit from it.
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Data accessCharging for access to aggregate data that can be leveraged by facilitators to improve outcomesMaybeThis idea may fit with a concept that emerged in the course of the research phase: "learning about learning." Gunner proposed that P2PU position itself as the nimble, dynamic alternative to the relatively slow-moving, static educational establishment. If P2PU can develop non-intrusive, non-voyeuristic ways to collect data on learner and facilitator performance, then that could be a powerful asset for both organizers and the core team.
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Dissociated revenueMonetizing a positive externality that the main output createsYesIt is possible that P2PU could provide "ad space" to an organization that wants to reach participants in a given learning circle. For example, because P2PU may get involved with building hyper-local communication channels, local businesses might want to support P2PU activities by advertising to learners. One caveat is that P2PU will never sell the data of anyone in their ecosystem.
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Paid features/freemiumSome functionality is available for free but more advanced features or capacity requires paymentMaybeA freemium model may work for P2PU, but would require research to achieve the delicate balance of providing only the most essential materials for free and offering value-add products and services that let users go beyond basic, DIY implementation
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ReciprocityMembership, donations, and pay-what-you-wantYesP2PU already makes it easy for both organizations and individuals to support them by providing a donation page on their website. Highlighting it more frequently with a "pay-what-you-can" ask to members of the ecosystem might bear some fruit, though if the average size of the donation is too small, it may be more trouble than it's worth. A membership model for participating organizations is also very much a possibility
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Shifted revenueSelling something related to the content/productYesP2PU has an opportunity to sell complementary items, like branded clothing and gear, to facilitators that are proud to be a part of the P2PU community. In the future, when more learners are aware of the P2PU brand, they could become a much bigger market for these items. Additionally, P2PU could emulate Cards Against Humanity and provide complementary tools for free online, but charge for professionally-produced versions.
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SupportCharging for support in implementationYesP2PU could formalize a standard, paid onboarding process to support libraries and other CBOs in implementing learning circles. P2PU could also offer advanced onboarding support for a higher price.
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Third-party fundingSustained support from a third-party organizationMaybeSustained third-party funding may eventually be offered to P2PU as it grows. Based on advice from OERu, P2PU should only accept this support if it can commit to devoting that money to "special projects" that go beyond the core operations of the organization. The reason for this is to avoid becoming dependent on funding that would likely be vulnerable to budget cuts if times got tough for the third-party.
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White-labelingProviding private, custom-branded version of an offeringYesWhile white-labeling may, in some instances, conflict with P2PU's principle of openness, there are instances in which white-labeling P2PU tools for a private group or organization could make sense
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