Introducing the Terp Toolkit and the Business Model Canvas

Everyday at the Dingman Center, students drop by, or send us emails, with questions on how to get started with their entrepreneurial ideas. We love connecting with UMD students and continuously look for new ways to support your fearless ventures!

As an additional resource to our future Fearless Founders, we are launching the Terp Toolkit. In this series of blog posts, we’ll provide regular updates with practical tips for folks interested in entrepreneurship.

Now, let’s get started…

Long gone are the days of the traditional business plan. With the influence of the lean startup methodology and the business model generation, entrepreneurs are turning to the business model canvas to develop, iterate and launch their businesses or innovate within existing organizations.


The business model canvas, initially developed by Alexander Osterwalder, provides a way for firms to visually describe, iterate and view the progression of their business model. The business model canvas focuses on nine key building blocks:

  • customer segments
  • value proposition
  • channels
  • customer relationships
  • revenue streams
  • key resources
  • key activities
  • key partnerships
  • cost structure

These building blocks then become the foundation for a company’s strategy and activities.

To get started, try printing a copy and sketch ideas in each block using different colored markers or post-it notes. The initial draft of the canvas is meant to foster creativity and discussion.

The book, Business Model Generation, business-model-generation-bookis also a great reference and has a downloadable PDF version that can help get you started. Over the next few weeks we’ll dive deeper into some of these building blocks and other practical tips for starting your business.

What do you think about this shift away from traditional business plans and toward the business model canvas? Leave a comment below and let us know. 

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