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Zipcar: Refining The Business Model Argumentative

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The Zipcar case was developed to permit students to closely track the development and evolution of a company’s business model in the very early stages of its life. The case describes the development of Zipcar, a car-sharing service located in Boston, but with national ambitions. The case includes the very first version of a financial model for the business, a version that was developed after significantly more research and which served as the basis for funding and actually starting the business; and finally, the case provides data from the first few months of operations which must then be played back against this articulation of the business model to determine how the company is faring. The key to the case is to have students articulate various views of the company’s business model.

Of course, while there is no single right answer to this, there are several approaches that yield significant insights into the attractiveness of the potential venture. These insights are both analytic and managerial; analytic in the sense that they give us some measure of understanding what is going on and what is important; managerial in that they should give Chase and others some sense for what key variables or levers they need to focus on and control in order to make this business successful.

After you come to some perspectives on BM, it is then critical to lay the actual data from September operation up against this model and tease out a set of conclusions about how the business is actually doing. This then leads naturally to a discussion regarding both how to best pitch the venture to potential investors, and also how to manage towards improving performance.

Case Research Questions
1. Evaluate this potential venture and the progress that Chase has made.
2. What is the business model, and how has it changed between December 1999, and May 2000? What do the date from actual operations in September say about how the business model is playing out in practice? Does this data give you comfort or concern?

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