Platforms and digital business models (Fall 2021/2022)

Course overview

This course is a hands-on introduction to platform strategy and digital business models. Students will apply theoretical insights to practical cases and will work in groups to develop own business ideas. You will be guided by interventions from experienced practitioners and group coaching sessions.

The course is worth 3 ECTS credits, which is equivalent to 90h of work per student per semester including time spent in class.

Didactic approach and class attendance

You will learn how platform strategy differs from traditional organizational forms in terms of supply chains, innovation, and marketing. Then you will apply this knowledge and develop your own business model ideas. You can either start from scratch with your own startup idea or develop a plan to transform an existing company’s business into a platform model. To guide you in this process, we will have inputs from experienced practitioners and regular group coaching sessions. You will be evaluated based on a midterm group presentation and written group assignment.

Learning outcomes

· Discuss key concepts of platform economics, define core aspects of digital business models

· Apply concepts to case studies and generalize

· Coordinate effectively with team mates

· Collect and analyze market data

· Plan and conduct market research and small experiments

· Develop a plan for scaling a business idea

· Produce a concise report of a semester long group project

Teaching methods

This is a Project-Based-Learning course. We have three types of interactions:

· Theoretical input sessions, some from experienced practitioners

· Presentation of group projects

· Individual group coaching sessions


We will start with a conceptual framework to clarify some theoretical aspects of digital markets and platform business models. We will then have practical sessions on examples of cases of (not) successful platforms, a workshop on how to structuring business ideas.

You are front and center in the main part of the course. You develop business models in small groups and get feedback in group coaching sessions. You will prepare a mid-term presentation of your ideas to get back feedback from everybody in class. This presentation and accompanying material will be graded and worth 40% of our final grade.

You will incorporate this feedback, refine your business model and then submit a written final assignment of up to 12 pages (60% of final grade).

Active contribution are important for lively and interesting class meetings, so reading and thinking before class, and debating during class is important. The goal is for you to contribute to everybody’s learning by providing new insights to the discussion, or by asking good questions, or by reacting to comments from other students or guest speakers. In addition, I will ask for someone to summarize the key “takeaways” of each class. Good answers are another great opportunity to contribute to everybody’s learning.