Learn how there are only
four elemental business model categories

The Business Model Zoo™ identifies four elemental business model pathways for developing a business: product, solutions, matchmaking, multi-sided. Each pathway describes an ideal model of how a firm can engage with its customer, deliver value, and monetize the result. It is the differences in customer engagement that are key to understanding the differences between the four business model pathways.

Almost all economically sustainable business models – whether for profit or not-for-profit – fit into one of these categories. Our Zoo™ contains 84 exemplar business model cases, encompassing (a) Unicorn companies (recent start-ups with valuations of more than $1 billion), (b) Tech City’s "Future Fifty" (UK recently founded high potential enterprises with sales growth of more than 30% a year) and (c) other prominent firms that show how our categories are enacted in the real world.

For more information on "Future Fifty" companies:

The 4 Business Model Categories



The company develops a product or standardized service and sells it to customers. The value proposition is transactional: to provide a product or standardized service that customers will buy.



The company engages with a customer about a problem the customer faces, and provides an integrated solution. The value proposition is relational: to tailor solutions to each customer.



The company joins buyers and sellers in its online or physical marketplace. The value proposition is transactional: to facilitate exchange.



The company provides different products or services to different customer groups. The value proposition is multi-sided: one customer group gets additional benefits from the other group’s transactions.

Let us help you understand the business models better by checking out our library of exemplars:

A business is not a company

Most companies own and operate many different businesses, each of which may have a different business model

An automobile company offers a product as its core business model; but most companies also offer after-sales-service, another business model (Solutions) in its portfolio.

A marketing consulting company uses a service- work-for-hire business model; but many also sell the results of surveys as products, a different business model (Product) in the company’s overall portfolio.

An industry may accommodate a variety of business models

Most industrial contexts consist of companies which operate different business models

In the Finance industry, companies enable customers to borrow and lend money through a product business model (bank) and a match-making business model (peer to peer).

In the Media industry, companies can engage in both a multi-sided business model (advertisement) and a product business model (films, games) in creating entertainment value.

We have further categorized our Zoo™ of business model exemplars under the six industry sectors within which they operate: Finance, Retail, Marketing, IT, Travel and Media. These Industry Maps illustrate the diversity of each industry's business model landscape. Each quadrant represents one of the four business model types; the size of the company name is contingent upon its valuation.


The Business Model Zoo™ Exemplars:

What is the Business Model Zoo™?

Our elemental business models are “ideal types”; real world business models are different – because of context. Our Business Model Zoo™ contains many examples that show how firms (often famous ones) actually build and deploy business models in different industries and for different products and services.

Studying our Business Model Zoo™ allows you to deepen your understanding of how the elemental categories are deployed in the real world; improve your appreciation of the DIFFERENCES between business model categories and improve your ability to DESIGN a better business model.