You don't need an idea to start a business

Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want

Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want

from Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda


Summary and Why You Should Read This Book

In "Value Proposition Design," Alexander Osterwalder and co-authors provide new customer-centric design tools for entrepreneurship and innovation. The book introduces the Value Proposition Canvas, helping startups and business leaders align their product development with customer needs. Like their first book, Business Model Generation, it focuses on iterative learning, listening, and strategic management, crucial for achieving product-market fit and growth.

“A Value Proposition creates value for a Customer Segment through a distinct mix of elements catering to that segment’s needs. Values may be quantitative (e.g. price, speed of service) or qualitative (e.g. design, customer experience).” Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, Value Proposition Design



In "Value Proposition Design," Alexander Osterwalder and his team address how to create products and services that deeply resonate with customer needs.

The book presents the Value Proposition Canvas, composed of two powerful tools, the Customer Profile and the Value Map. The former is the starting point, aiming to understand the customer's world through listening and experimentation, focusing on their jobs, pains, problems, opportunities, and desires (Jobs to be Done). The Value Map, on the other hand, allows entrepreneurs and companies to articulate how their products or services can alleviate customer pains and create opportunities, achieving a successful value proposition.

A key point is the iterative nature of value proposition development. The process includes constant testing and adaptation based on customer feedback and market changes. This approach is critical for startups seeking to find their product-market fit as well as for established companies aiming to maintain relevance in mature markets. The book offers strategies for prototyping and iterating value propositions and provides a variety of real-world examples and case studies, illustrating how successful companies like Apple and Airbnb have used these principles to achieve remarkable success.

Furthermore, it has the virtue of extending beyond the creation of value propositions. Both the Value Map and the Customer Profile integrate within the Business Model Canvas developed by the authors previously in "Business Model Generation."

The book guides freelancers, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and business leaders practically and intuitively to tailor their offerings to customer needs and integrate them into successful business models. The book's emphasis on continuous innovation and a focus on customer-centricity is key for companies to remain adaptable and responsive in a changing environment.

"Value Proposition Design" combines innovative methodologies (Customer Development, Lean Startup) with practical tools, making it an invaluable guide for achieving sustainable growth and innovation.



At the heart of this work resonates a simple, powerful concept, whose importance often eludes those entrepreneurs blinded by the virtues of their product and the potential of technology:

There is no business without delivering significant value to stakeholders, and especially to a specific segment of customers, covering a relevant need, alleviating pain, or facilitating a desire or gain through the right product or service. To this end, it is fundamental to correctly delineate this segment and get to the bottom of their motivations.

The business model then allows expressing in hypotheses who the participating actors will be, what value will be delivered to the customer, through what channels, with what revenue model the company will extract part of that value, and how it will generate it through activities and resources.

"Value Proposition Design" presents the Value Proposition Canvas as a practical and valuable tool to achieve the product-market fit that will be an essential part of the business model. It offers a pragmatic, simple, and visually attractive approach to understanding, prioritizing, and satisfying customer needs.

Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, authors of Business Model Generation, along with their co-authors and collaborators, delve into the understanding and definition of these two fundamental components, the customer segment and the value proposition, managing to address again the application of complex concepts via the design of simple tools, whose contribution to the creation and implementation of successful business models worldwide cannot be underestimated.

The application of the Jobs-to-be-done theory deepened by Clayton Christensen adds significant value to the Business Model generation process, and the book contributes to reinforcing the importance of active listening and empathy in the Customer Development process (Steve Blank and Bob Dorf), both in problem and solution interviews, efficiently helping to organize the information obtained, validate hypotheses, and learn from it.

The book is key to understanding that successful businesses are not built on great ideas, but on generating genuine value for stakeholders.

I recommend readers use these tools regularly and complement them with reading other works of modern entrepreneurial literature, as only continuous practical application in concrete businesses or projects will lead them to extract the true value presented here.

Francisco Santolo



"Business Model Generation" by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

Rationale: This foundational work by Osterwalder and Pigneur is an essential companion to "Value Proposition Design." It introduces the Business Model Canvas, offering a holistic view of how a value proposition is a critical part of a company's overall business model. This book is ideal for readers seeking a comprehensive understanding of how different elements of a business model, including value propositions, work together to create and deliver value.

"Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice" by Clayton M. Christensen

Rationale: Clayton Christensen’s “Competing Against Luck” is a fitting extension to the discussion in "Value Proposition Design." Christensen introduces the "Jobs to be Done" theory, which aligns perfectly with the customer-centric approach of the Value Proposition Canvas. The book provides deep insights into understanding what customers truly need and how businesses can innovate to meet these needs. This perspective complements Osterwalder's framework, emphasizing the importance of customer understanding in designing effective value propositions.

"Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Rationale: “Blue Ocean Strategy” provides a strategic framework for creating new market spaces, highly relevant to the ideas presented in "Value Proposition Design." It complements Osterwalder’s work by discussing how to break away from competition and create new demand, an endeavor that often starts with a unique value proposition. This book is valuable for readers interested in exploring how innovative value propositions can lead to the discovery of untapped market opportunities.