Creating the Value Proposition of your “Green” Idea

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the Game-Changer’s WebQuest Compendium of Entrepreneurship Skills Development Challenges! “Creating the Value Proposition of your ‘Green’ Idea” WebQuest addresses the “Ideas and Opportunities” competence area of the EntreComp Framework and helps you develop your knowledge and skills in the key competence “Valuing Ideas”.

In today’s rapidly changing world and with the huge information flow coming from many different companies that offer the same products and services or substitute ones, people are struggling to make effective purchasing decisions. In addition to this reality, there is another one. People don’t have so much time to spend in order to decide what to buy to cover their needs and wants.

“What does your business do?”,  “Who does it serve?”,  “How is your business different or unique?” are some very important questions that people usually ask in order to make the buying procedure easier for them.

Every business should know how to answer these three questions in a clear and effective way and quickly, so as to show what it offers to its existing or prospect customers, the key benefits and why its products or services are the best competitive option.

The best way to address these questions is by developing strong value propositions.

According to Hubspot, 64% of businesses have “established value propositions” but very few have an effective one. Studies confirm that only 2.2% of companies have useful value propositions. This reality has a great negative impact on the businesses and their goals. The solution is to learn how to create winning value propositions! Congratulations! You have completed this short introduction which provides you with valuable information about the importance of Value Propositions. For more WebQuests, please visit the project website at: https://gamechanger-project.eu

TASKS

You are working on a newly established start-up that has an idea to develop a “green” product. A green product is a sustainable product designed to minimise its environmental impacts during its whole life cycle and even after it’s of no use.

You with your teammates are well informed that in order this green product to succeed in the market a strong value proposition should be in place. The problem is that you have never developed a value proposition, neither any member of your team. You know that you have to decide which type of value you want to act on, based on the profile of your target group, in order to be in a position of communicating this value to your prospect customers effectively, but you don’t know what procedure to follow to come up with its value proposition. You make a quick research on the available tools that can help you with the value proposition creation and you find that there is a really effective tool, the “Value Proposition Canvas” that is used by the successful companies all over the world. You decide to deploy it to create the value proposition of this “green” product and then to create a draft of a one-page website site in order to present and promote your product to the market by using this value proposition as the most powerful element of this web page.

PROCESS

Step 1: Value Proposition: What it is, how it works, and why you need it!

It’s the first day of this task implementation! You know that during this process you have to cooperate with your colleagues in order to develop a strong value proposition and to create the one-page website draft. But you also know that your team members don’t know exactly what a value proposition is. You decide to prepare a short presentation to inform them about what a value proposition is, how it works and why you need it for launching your green product.

You read a book about this topic and some articles as well, but you don’t feel so confident in training the others on this. You are aware that a value proposition is a statement that paints a clear picture of what your product/brand has to offer for prospects and that it refers to:

  • How your product or service solves/improves problems
  • What benefits customers can expect
  • Why customers should buy from you over your competitors

but you need more information. In order to get it, visit the following articles and keep notes while you are finding answers to the questions what a value proposition is, how it works and why your start-up needs it:

Now you have gathered all the information you need proceed with step 2!

Step 2:  The “Value Proposition Canvas” and how to use it!  

Except for providing information to your colleagues about what a value proposition is you have to introduce them with the business tool called “Value Proposition Canvas” as you and your teammates decided to implement the 2 next steps (step 3 and 4) together. Collaborative work is a must when a company wants to develop a strong value proposition for a new product.

You continue your research in order to find as many resources as you can about the “Value Proposition Canvas” which is a tool that can help ensure that a product or service is positioned around what the customer values and needs. The Value Proposition Canvas was initially developed by Dr Alexander Osterwalder as a framework to ensure that there is a fit between the product and market. But of course, you need more information about this very important business tool that can be found at the official website of the company that developed it: https://www.strategyzer.com/canvas/value-proposition-canvas. Use the download form that is included in this web page and get canvas and then watch the video that explains how this canvas is used: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReM1uqmVfP0. Learn more regarding the real value of this canvas and get introduced with some ready-made examples by visiting: https://designabetterbusiness.com/2017/10/12/how-to-really-understand-your-customer-with-the-value-proposition-canvas/. And in order to be ready to fill the value proposition canvas out in the right way you need some additional instructions that are available at:  https://isaacjeffries.com/blog/2018/2/27/how-to-fill-in-a-value-proposition-canvas.

Now you are ready to present your finding of step 1 and 2 to your colleagues, the people that you are going to cooperate with to develop the value proposition of the green product you want to introduce to the market. Don’t forget to show them some examples of strong value propositions and to explain in detail the procedure of filling out the value proposition canvas! Devote as much time as needed to this meeting so as to be sure that everybody is ready for the implementation of the next steps. Be prepared to answer any question your teammates may have!

Step 3: Developing the Customer Profile!

You and  your team members know how a strong value propositions looks like and it’s time to use the value proposition canvas to describe the value of your green product and the target customer segment in more detail and to evaluate the “fit” between the value you intent to create and the expectations your customers have.

You gather all together in a quite room and you have the following materials available:

  • Value Proposition Canvas Poster: Ideally in B1 format (707mm x 1000mm or 27.83in x 39.37in)
  • Medium sized post-it in three different colours
  • Markers to be used to write on the post-its and not on the canvas itself
  • A smart phone to capture the results and share them with the other start-up employees or for showing on Instagram on what your team is working!

Start by filling out the right part of the canvas, responsible for the customer profile. Write down the name of the customer segment, the group of people you want to have as customers for your product. Then, describe what jobs-different tasks-a specific customer of yours is trying to get done. Use one post-it for every job you intend to help your customer get done. Proceed with adding the pains and gains your customer experiences or could experience before, during and after getting the job done. Use again one post-it for every gain and pain you want to include in the canvas. Pains are the negative experiences might be associated with the described jobs and gains are the benefits your customer expects, desires or would be surprised by. Write as many pains and gains as you can!

For developing your customers’ profile successfully, you have to empathise them. To think as they think, to feel as they feel! Observe them and put yourselves in their shoes!

You can find certain questions that can help you fill out this part of the canvas at: https://productcoalition.com/value-proposition-canvas-6d5edec84bca and a step-by-step example at: https://isaacjeffries.com/blog/2018/2/27/how-to-fill-in-a-value-proposition-canvas.

Additionally, watch the following three videos that explain the meaning of the terms “Jobs”, “Pains” and “Gains”:

Don’t forget that all team members have to tell their ideas and express their opinions with respect to the others. Set some ground rules from the beginning in order to avoid any misunderstanding and to ensure that all the voices will be heard!

When you will have done with filling out the three sections of the customer profile, check all the post-its again and remove those that you think that are not relevant with your product.

After completing this step and all of you are happy with the result of this group working session continue with step 4!

Step 4:  Discovering the value of our product!

Now it’s time to find out what you are giving to those customers in response to their jobs, pains and gains. Again, you work as a team!

Start the implementation of this step by focusing on the left side of the canvas, the squared part which is also divided into three sections and is called “Value Proposition”. These three sections correspond to the relevant customer profile parts and refer to the features, functionality and benefits your product can offer not only to attract the customer but also to meet its requirements from the right part. First of all describe your product. List those features that can help your customer to get his/her jobs done and the different versions of the product, if applicable. Then outline how you intend to create value by describing how your product is killing customer pains or creating customer gains. Again, for each feature, pain killer and gain creator use one post-it. It is strongly recommended to use the same colour for pain killers as the one you used for pains in the customer profile section. The same applied for the other two sections. 

You can find certain questions that can help you fill out this part of the canvas at: https://university.hygger.io/en/articles/1818952-questions-for-value-proposition-canvas  and a step-by-step example at: https://www.feedough.com/value-proposition-canvas/

Additionally, watch the following videos that explain what pain relievers and gain creators are:

Finally, check Amazon’s value proposition canvas filled out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfdnBOtA_dY.

Thank your colleagues for the cooperation, take a picture of the completed value proposition canvas and continue with step 5!

Step 5: Develop the value proposition of your “green” product! Having in front of you the image with the completed value proposition canvas for your green product you have to develop its value proposition statement that says in simple words what value, what benefits your product offers to your customers. There are several ways you can follow in order to structure your value proposition that can be found at:

http://torgronsund.com/2011/11/29/7-proven-templates-for-creating-value-propositions-that-work/.

Try to use all the different forms provided in the above-mentioned article by incorporating the most important parts of the content you and your teammates developed while working with the value proposition canvas (step 3 and 4).

You need to devote time during this process as it’s not easy to come up with a strong value proposition in some minutes.

Get some tips from these two articles:

and get inspired by some winning value propositions that can be found at: https://www.webfx.com/blog/marketing/9-value-proposition-examples-to-convince-and-convert-customers/.

After having at least 7 alternatives for your value proposition, write an email to your teammates with whom you cooperated in task 3 and 4, including the list with your newly developed value propositions. Ask them to vote for their favourite one. Pick the most popular one and proceed with step 6!   

Step 6: Design a one-page website for your “green” product!

You have in your hands a strong value proposition! But it’s useless if you don’t communicate it to your prospect customers. Neil Patel, guru in online marketing, wrote in an article: “A website tells a lot about a business. It shows how much thought the business puts into its brand and whether it values having a website. Unfortunately, far too many companies don’t really value their websites and don’t get the full benefit out of them. They neglect design, website copy, and other important essentials. They put the focus only on making sales. This results in a really bad website and leaves visitors unsure if the company is the best one to do business with. This is why it’s so important to have a value proposition. A website needs to tell visitors in a couple of sentences or less why their business is the best choice for the visitor, instead of sending a bunch of different messages that won’t be received.” Read his article by visiting the link: https://neilpatel.com/blog/importance-of-value-propositions/.

Now that you are convinced that a value proposition and a website are closely related you have to design, by sketching it, a one-page website for your “green” product. A One Pager is a Single Page website with no additional pages like About, Team or Services. All the content sits within the same webpage, traditionally in a long-scrolling layout. Take many blank pieces of paper and a pencil. Have in front of you your value proposition statement and the photo you took with the completed value proposition canvas. Before you start creating your prototypes, your sketches, get some information about what a one-page

website is at: https://onepagelove.com/what-is-a-one-page-website. Check also how a one-page website looks like at: https://www.pagecloud.com/blog/one-page-websites and get inspired by some example at:

Finally read the following article that provides some tips on how to create a beautiful one-page website: https://www.wix.com/blog/2018/08/how-to-create-one-page-website/.

Unleash your creativity and start sketching! Place the value proposition of your product on the top and then analyse it in the different sections of your website. Come up with 3 different ideas regarding the design and content of your one-page website and arrange a meeting with your teammates you have already cooperated with, in order to show what you created and to make a decision which option to follow! Discuss with them the opportunity you have to develop your first website for your “green” product by yourselves, as you are a newly established start-up with no budget to spend for developing a website. Yes, you can do it by using free templates available on the web. Learn about it at: https://colorlib.com/wp/cat/one-page/.  

EVALUATION

By completing this activity, you will acquire the following knowledge, skills and attitudes:

KnowledgeSkillsAttitudes
• Basic knowledge about entrepreneurial value creation• Recognise the potential of an idea for creating value• Increased regard to different needs of various groups
• Basic knowledge about illustrating the value of an idea• Recognise what makes an opportunity to create value• Awareness of the impact of innovation on the society
• Factual knowledge about the impact of opportunity taking on a personal level, in a group and on the surrounding community• Identify personal, social and professional opportunities for creating value• Awareness of personal skills and competences

CONCLUSION

You just experienced the whole process of developing a value proposition for a new product your start-up wants to launch and of creating a draft of the one-page website that will promote this new product. During this journey you had to conduct research in order to learn more about what a value proposition is, to find out how you with your teammates could make effective use of the Value Proposition Canvas and finally develop a strong value proposition. Additionally, you enhanced your team working skills and you enriched your IT skills. Congratulations!

Your next stop should be to exploit the power of your winning value proposition and to apply what you have already learned in other projects! The journey has just started!

“First, you must have entrepreneurs who fully grasp their customers. They understand their product so well because they themselves are customers. The second thing is having an awesome value proposition.”

Craig Sherman

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“Understanding the Green Value Chain”

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the Game-Changer’s WebQuest Compendium of Entrepreneurship Skills Development Challenges! “Understanding the Green Value Chain” WebQuest addresses the “Ideas and Opportunities” competence area of the EntreComp Framework and helps you develop your knowledge and skills in the key competence “Valuing Ideas”.  

At a time when the quest for an economy that is more sustainable, more green and humane, and more inclusive is literally more essential than ever before, the so called “Agile movement” is now spreading quickly throughout all kinds of companies, sparking dramatic improvements in quality, innovation, and speed-to-market.

This is the Age of Agile, shaped by fast-changing markets, new technologies, climate challenges, delivery methods, trade trends, new regulations and government involvement, as well as fast-paced and fickle consumer demands. In this agile era, businesses have to deliver more value at an equal or lower cost to be considered successful.

As more than 70% of world trade consists of intermediate goods, services and capital, it is of paramount importance for companies to begin to evaluate and change their management thinking considering that “greening” the value chain and investing in sustainability offers a win-win situation where companies can put a “W” in the both the operations and environment column! Congratulations! You have completed this short introduction which provides you with valuable information about the topic of “Understanding the Green Value Chain”.

TASKS

You are discussing with your family to transform a business idea you have into a tangible product package. You want to produce three (3) types of botanical teas that will be constituted of different mixtures of herbs. This idea came up as a solution to increase your family’s income, by vertically integrating your family’s agriculture business dealing with producing lavender, black tea and calendula. While you researching on the internet in order to find out what other businesses in this sector do, you found a scientific business article that stated the importance of breaking down a value chain into its different parts before introducing any product into the market. Since you are about to participate in a European Eco-Start-up competition, a top-quality pitch presentation focusing on the “green value chain” regarding the production of the botanical teas is your ticket to success! During the process of developing a winning presentation, you will work by yourself concentrating your efforts on making it as comprehensive, attractive, explanatory and informative as you can.

PROCESS

Step 1: Value Chain: What is it, how it works, and why do we need that for?

It’s the first day of this task implementation! You know that during this process you have to explore and decode the essence of value chain.

In short, a value chain is a set of activities that a firm performs in order to deliver a valuable product (i.e., good and/or service) for the market; a step-by-step business model for transforming a product or service from idea to reality.

The concept of value chains as decision support tools, was developed by Michael Porter as early as 1979, whilst the primary activities of Porter’s value chain are:

  1. Inbound logistics,
  2. Operations,
  3. Outbound logistics,
  4. Marketing and sales, and
  5. Service.

The goal of the five sets of activities is to create value that exceeds the cost of conducting that activity, therefore generating a higher profit. Learn more about the meaning of “Value Chain” reading and watching the following web-material and keep notes while you are finding answers to the questions what a value chain is, how it works and why your start-up needs it:

Supplementary, you may watch the following video explaining what a value chain is in the context of the agricultural sector:

https://www.ilo.org/empent/areas/value-chain-development-vcd/lang–en/index.htm

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Value chains help increase a business’s efficiency so the business can deliver the most value for the least possible cost.
  • The end goal of a value chain is to create a competitive advantage for a company by increasing productivity while keeping costs reasonable.

Now you have gathered all the information you need, proceed with step 2!

Step 2:  Green Value Chain & Sustainable Green Supply Chain  

You continue your research in order to discover the meaning of the “Green Value Chain & Sustainable Green Supply Chain”. For years, the majority of companies, particularly in the consumer product sector, are not paying adequate attention to the adverse social and environmental impacts posed by their suppliers. Most of the time, profitability outweighs sustainability.

In recent years, companies of different sizes are embarking on the journey towards a green and more sustainable supply chain. Not only does this trend alleviate the social and environmental risks, but such practice can also bring enormous benefits to businesses across industries, including economic returns and positive brand identity.

Pay attention to this article as it contains valuable information that will enrich your knowledge and help your startup grow the right way: https://topo.cc/future-of-supply-chain-sustainable-green-supply-chain-management/

Leading companies drive the change by engaging their suppliers and customers in greening their value chains. As an effective green economy needs a level playing field created through effective regulation and public policy, market players and public agents change the way supply chains work by changing the underlying set of rules and incentives. Particularly, in agriculture, new green value chains are being built by committed coalitions of public and private players that recognise that ‘business as usual’ will not meet future demand.

In the context of making the global economy green, pay close attention to the next video:

And another on about the sustainable agrifood value chains:

Here is a scientific paper providing substantial evidence that the greening of global value chains provides a powerful opportunity to merge public and private interests on the basis of Green Growth: https://bit.ly/306RENQ

You may also read an article about the interplay between Green Value Chains & Green Growth: https://bit.ly/30dvtpk

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The aim of a green approach to Value Chains is:

  • to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and to increase the share of renewable and recycled resources at the input side of the value chain,
  • to maximize material- and energy efficiency at each stage of the process, and
  • to reduce negative environmental impacts as outputs at all points of the chain.

Having made the first two steps, you are now confident enough for the next one!

Step 3: Value Chain Analysis!

Understanding deeper the term of “Value Chain”, it’s time to learn that companies conduct value chain analysis by scrutinizing every production step required to create a product, with the ultimate goal of delivering maximum value for the least possible total cost. There are many advantages of value chain analysis, all of which result in a company’s ability to understand and optimize the activities that lead to its competitive advantage and higher profit levels. 

The following articles are thoroughly analysing each one of the primary value chain components:

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Companies use value chain analysis to deliver the most value for the least possible total cost.
  • If a company can create efficiencies by analysing one or more of the five primary value chain activities, it can gain a competitive edge and boost profits.

You have finished another step! Let’s find out what has left to learn!

Step 4:  What is Value chain mapping?

Now it’s time to find out what is the meaning of “Value chain mapping”. Actually, it is a process that identifies the main activities associated with a company’s service or product line and is often used in corporate strategy in order to identify performance improvement opportunities. There are plenty of articles to read, such as the following ones:

And of course, a list of selected videos to introduce you to the topic of Value Chain Mapping:

Let’s continue with step 5!

Step 5: Break down the Value Chain of your product package!

In this step you will write down the parts of the value chain regarding your new product package. Since you know that a value chain is all the activities and processes within a company that help add value to the final product, you should now follow certain steps in order to break down the parts of the value chain regarding your new product package. The following articles provide all the needed information and examples to make this process more understandable and feasible for you:

Having done all this work, feel ready for the final step!

Step 6: Prepare your Presentation

Now that you have made the necessary research and you know well what Green Value Chain means, it is time to use your knowledge and unleash your creativity along with your skills in order to make a successful Start-up Pitch Presentation! In this step, you certainly have to include in your presentation the value chain and some important aspects of your idea in order to have more chances to win the competition.

When you pitch to investors or venture capitalists, assume that you are not going to have a lot of time. Investors constantly get pitched, so it’s important to catch their attention quickly and engage them by keeping it simple. You should also be able to provide more details if questions arise.

Learn about what things you should Include in Your Start-up Pitch Presentation at:

Keep in mind that the better your Presentation skills are, the more Effective
your Public Speaking will be. Get the public speaking tips you have been missing
and make your next business presentation a success by watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT5vlkGM810

Presenting business ideas is not an easy task, so make sure you read the following article: www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre/articles/five-tips-for-presenting-your-business-ideas

And don’t forget to be confident but not haughty, calm but not lethargic, and polite but not soft! Good luck!

EVALUATION

KnowledgeSkillsAttitudes
• Theoretical knowledge about what a Value Chain is“Understanding the Green Value Chain”• Breaking down a Value Chain into its parts• Appreciation of the sustainable strategies used by various companies
• Theoretical knowledge about the “Green Value Chain”/ ”Sustainable Value Chain”• Apply ethical thinking to production process• Awareness of the value in long-term social, cultural and economic goals
• Theoretical knowledge about Value Chain analysis• Evaluate the sustainability of different practices and their impact on the environment• Awareness of the effect of entrepreneurial action on the target community, the market, the society and environment.
• Theoretical knowledge about Value Chain mapping• Combine knowledge and resources to create a sustainable Value Chain
• Factual knowledge of how to identify opportunities to develop further the value-creating activity
• Factual knowledge of how to transform ideas into solutions that create values for others
• Factual knowledge on how to search for new solutions that improve the value-creating process.

As a self-assessment exercise for this WebQuest, please answer to the following questions:

  • What were some of the most interesting discoveries you made while working on this topic?
  • What were some of your most challenging moments and how did you manage to overcome them?
  • What were some of your most powerful learning moments and why?
  • Were your milestones and goals mostly met, and how much did you deviate from them if any?
  • What would you do differently if you were to approach the same topic again?

And complete the self-assessment quiz that can be found at:

Q1. A value chain is a set of activities that a firm operating in a specific industry performs in order to deliver a valuable product (i.e., good and/or service) for the market.

  1. True
  2. False

Q2. What are the Primary Activities of Michael Porter’s Value Chain?

  1. Inbound logistics
  2. Operations
  3. Outbound logistics
  4. Marketing and sales
  5. Service
  6. All the above

Q3. Which of the following is not considered a secondary activity in the value chain framework developed by Michael Porter?

  1. Procurement
  2. Human resource management
  3. Technology development
  4. Firm infrastructure management
  5. Product discounts

Q4. A green value chain refers to the lifecycle of a product beginning with the initial sourcing, through research and development (R&D) and production, all the way to the final recycling of waste and product abandonment.

  1. True
  2. False

Q5. Value chain analysis is (check more than one if needed):

  1. A breath-taking technology;
  2. A strategy tool used to analyse internal firm activities;
  3. A way to see how the company can create a competitive advantage for itself;

A process where a firm identifies its primary and support activities that add value to its final product and then analyze these activities to reduce costs or increase differentiation.

CONCLUSION

You just experienced the whole process of creating a top-quality pitch presentation focusing on the “green value chain” regarding the production of the botanical teas! During this journey you had to research in depth in order to learn more on what Green Value Chain is, how it contributes to forming a successful product and affects your future company.

You learned additionally how to present your ideas and the results of your research in a professional and effective way in the context of a Start-up Competition. But you have also got trained in critical and creative thinking working on your own.

Congratulations! Now you are an expert in breaking down a value chain and you are ready to implement this practice to your entrepreneurial ideas. The journey has just started! 

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do .”

Elvis Presley