The countdown is on! Five days until this year’s EdCorps launch and the teachers and students here in Tucson are getting ready.

What’s an EdCorp? I’m glad you asked. EdCorps are student-run businesses. Students design their social enterprise – from the name to the product or service – and learn to listen, design, collaborate and think critically along the way. They channel their profits into their school or to pay it forward in their community.

Time4Games 4th grade entrepreneurs working on the BMC.

Teachers who start EdCorps go above and beyond to create hands-on, entrepreneurial learning opportunities for their students. We asked a couple of these teachers to test a tool that is used widely by startups around the world. Lucky for us, they reported back on how things went, and we get to share their experience with you.

So… what is this tool? The Business Model Canvas or BMC was originally designed by Alex Osterwalder as a strategic management tool. Basically, it’s a graphic organizer that helps people think through their project so that they can begin to test assumptions and achieve results. Here at LeadLocal, we use the BMC for all kinds of projects, programs, new ventures, or organizational realignments. 

Stephanie Pederson, founder of Time4Games at Borton Elementary, used the BMC with her 4th grade class. She shares her experience:

Time4Games considering their users & customers.

The BMC is a great way to dive right into the nitty-gritty of thinking about a business and the essential elements that need to be considered to experience success. As we thought about users, customers, and customer relationships, I was able to see that students come with so much knowledge as they are already users and customers of various products.

As we thought about relationships of user to business, I could see students being empathetic and putting themselves into the shoes of their potential users and customers.  The tools greatest benefits are that it helps us to seek to understand the big picture and that it is fluid and can be revisited and reiterated as our business develops and grows over time. 

Josh Ruddick, the founder of Santa Rita Sprouts, used the BMC with his high school students at Santa Rita High School:

Where to start? By asking questions.

Santa Rita Sprouts started the process of completing a business model canvas by first talking about their mission. I then asked the students: What questions do we need to answer to establish our business model? What would that venture capitalist or bank want to know?  What should you be able to tell them you have thought carefully about when pitching a successful business? 

The strategy worked. They were able to generate the same questions that the BMC asks. We went box by box and filled out the BMC. It took us 80 minutes. We now have identified our customers, how we want them to be involved in our product lines through market testing a rapid experiments.  We have decided on distribution channels to test, and we have outlined the key activities that all of the students need to be a part of in order to make sure our business works. It was a great tool to help us get started on the right foot.

Students brainstorming around the BMC.

Time4Games and Santa Rita Sprouts are ready to launch into a year of learning and growth. With the first iteration of the BMC as a starting point, they can incorporate new learnings and pivot along the way. We’re excited to continue supporting their entrepreneurial journey.

Want to learn more about starting a business in your classroom? Reach out to the team at Real World Scholars who power this work. Whether you’re an EdCorp founder now or in the future – the BMC is a tool that can be adapted. Start by checking out these downloadable teacher resources.


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