Digital Nomadz

From the Blog


Workshop Business Modeling at Sustentables Innovation Center

It is 9.00am on a saturday, 26th of May 2012, an hour before our workshop business modeling is scheduled to start when the doorbell rings at Sustentables innovation center. Would that be our first participant arriving so early? Slightly nervous I walk through the garden to the door and open it to indeed welcome our first guest for today. More than an hour early! Who would have thought that would happen one day in Mexico 😉

One by one all participants arrive and we are ready to start the workshop with a total of 15 people at 10.30 am. The energy in the group is good. Curiosity is what I mostly see in the eyes that look up at the slightly nervous girl in front of the big projector screen. Curious to what two Dutch nomads can bring to their lives, curious what will be happening today.

Like in Veracruz, I lead the first part of the workshop in Spanish, presenting the theoretical framework that explains the business model canvas. Small notes below the slides help me find the right Spanish words when I sometimes get lost. Quickly I notice the level of this group is much higher than we have had before in our workshops here in Mexico. Industrial designers, architects and even programmers attend this workshop today. Smart questions are posed right from the beginning and I am loving the interaction. Many of them are entrepreneurs in search of a way to make a sustainable business out of their idea. With sustainable I mean a business that can stand on its own two feet, without the need of external funding or government grants. Learn how to build a little ecosystem around their product or service with the sole purpose to make customers happy.

Many companies in Mexico are dependent on government grants and few have found ways to stand on their own feet and make money from the value they add. That is a pity we believe because there are many great ideas and entrepreneurs here in Mexico. Today we hope to show a simple way to growing a sustainable business by means of applying the business model canvas.

At the beginning of the workshop I request the participants to only speak Spanish today. It still is too big of a challenge for me to get questions asked in English and answer them in Spanish. Stevens’ mastery of Spanish is improving every day. He learns many new words by simply listening and copying those words to similar context and most of the time that works just fine. Steven facilitates the second part of the workshop in Spanish, which is the most interactive part of the day. We have people work in small groups on a particular business idea of one of the participants. This time Steven understands quite well what kind of businesses are written down on the canvases. Challenging the participants goes well, even in Spanish! What a great learning experience!

Of course, the both of us still make plenty of errors in Spanish and have quite a way to go until we are perfectly fluent, but all participants understood us and loved our effort to speak their language. We end the day with a group of very excited participants who have learned to understand and apply the business model canvas to any idea and structure a short pitch of a new idea to others. It is great to see people present their business strategy in 5 minutes with confidence based upon a well structured approach.

This workshop is our final contribution that concludes our five month period in Mexico City with the network of Sustentables. For us, it is time to go on and extend our trail of awesomeness beyond Mexico City. With this workshop, leaving behind all our materials and workshop content we hope it is going to support the rise of the Sustentables Innovation Center. The idea is that the team at Sustentables can repeat this workshop in the future to help entrepreneurs grow and develop sustainable businesses while at the same time having the ability to earn some money to continue building the Innovation Center.

Our next stop is our favorite hotel in Pie de la Cuesta in the state of Guerrero. The coming two months we will work at Hotel baXar, building a new website that features an online booking tool. We will help to set up a program of locally crafted design products of natural materials that we aim to put in a catalogue and help baXar sell it both online and offline. Steven will practice his Spanish as being a guide to several eco-experiences offered by baXar to hotel guests. We will learn what it takes to run hotel operations in Mexico, fulfilling a development goal we both have.

Tomorrow we take our 1972 Volkswagen Combi Westfalia that is now 100% mechanically perfect thanks to our dedicated mechanic Joel. We will drive it for the first time over the mountains, 400 kilometers from Mexico City to Pie de la Cuesta. It is the start of our next 6 months as Digital Nomadz and we are soooo much looking forward to it! We hope you still love to read our stories and we are always so happy to hear the things that go round in your life, so don’t hesitate to comment on this post. We love to read that!

Curious how our first 6 months looked? Check out the summary of photos. Naturally, we made lots of pictures at the Sustentables workshop Business Modeling. You can find them here: [AFG_gallery id=’6′]


  1. André Gussekloo - juni 11, 2012 8:35 am

    Wat een avonturen! Heel dapper hoe jullie workshops geven in het Spaans ook. Ik kijk uit naar het volgende bericht uit Pie de la Cuesta!

    • Steven - juni 11, 2012 2:41 pm

      Thnx Andre! Dat bericht uit Pie komt en ook het beloofde gastblog! Zodra we in Costa Rica zijn zullen we je laten weten hoe de wifi is werkomstandigheden zijn! #werkenvanuithetbuitenland

  2. Bea - juni 11, 2012 4:30 pm

    Geweldig toch, dat je mensen die al goed opgeleid zijn met zo’n workshop op een hoger niveau kunt brengen.
    Heel veel plezier en succes met jullie “klus” in het hotel.
    Liefs, Bea