Introduction to the

Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology

Special Edition for partners in the SINCERE project.

Learn how to Map, Check, and Innovate your Sustainable Business Model from 4 Systemic Perspectives.

You can still sign up until Oct 11th!


 In today's fast-changing world, it's becoming more and more obvious, that your business model needs to be sustainable to be succcesful in the century to come.

Sustainability is the buzzword of the decade. There's no doubt world is changing, and business leaders of the future want their organizations to be sustainable, green, fair, just, resilient, circular, and regenerative. But what does that really mean? What are the implications for your business? And, how can you start innovating for sustainable business success, right now?

All over the world, citizens, governments, and companies are waking up to the systemic unsustainable reality we are facing and work towards a sustainable society in which all human needs are met within the carrying capacity of planet Earth.

The effects can be seen on many levels. People are becoming more informed and critical, demanding transparency about e.g. the origin, labour conditions and environmental impact of the things they buy.

And also legislation is rapidly becoming more stringent, recreating a new playing field with new rules and principles to play by.

The systemic aspects of the global sustainability challenge are creating serious problems for all organizations that depend on unsustainable practices, while creating opportunities for those that embrace and anticipate these changes and strategically start innovating today.

As an entrepreneur, business owner, founder or manager, you’ve invested a great amount of time, energy, and money to build your business, and if you want to be successful in the 21st century, you're looking for the best tools to transform into a future proof organization.

Unfortunately, existing approaches for business model innovation often focus on pieces and parts, and do not ensure that your business model is designed sustainable as a whole with sustainability as the core driver for ánd of business model innovation.

Our offer: introductory online course

Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology

Applying a Systems Thinking Perspective to Sustainable Business Modelling

The Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology helps you (re-)design your future-proof Sustainable Business Model with a unique and compelling Triple Value Proposition at its core:

1. Human Value Proposition - to describe more clearly what Universal Human Needs your Product/Service aims to satisfy for your Target Audience, now and in the future,

2. Social Value Proposition - to describe how you build Resilient Channels and Trustworthy Relationships with Partners and Stakeholders throughout your Supply Chains, 

3. Ecological Value Proposition - to describe how you develop Circular Activities and rely on Regenerative Resources throughout your Life-Cycle.

The 4th Systemic Perspective: Strategic Decision-Making and Prioritization helps you make sure that everything is aligned with your desired organizational Strategic Direction, your vision, purpose, and goals. It also ties in the business bottom line profits, increasing Revenue, decreasing Costs, , and reducing or mitigating Risks.

Overall, the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology online course will help you identify the business language and rationale required to create and deliver a compelling future-proof value proposition and profitable business model.

Business benefits and savings come in many forms: growing market share, and access to emerging markets through sustainable branding and leadership; enhanced resilience to sector volatility and legislation changes; improvements in operational efficiencies and employee engagement, collaboration, productivity and innovative capacity; increased ability to attract and retain talent; as well as reduced consumption of and thus expenses for energy, water, materials and waste that can be reduced, reused, recycled, down- or up cycled. This creates new value propositions and requires new, sustainable business models.

Here’s Exactly What You’ll Get When You Sign Up

This special edition of the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology online course is offered to you by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Portugal as part of the SINCERE project

The online course consists of 5 modules with videos and supporting templates, trigger questions, and process guidance. Throughout, we will explore how you might integrate a systemic sustainability perspective into your business model to Map, Check, and Innovate how you strategically create and deliver value to your target audience, social stakeholders, ánd the environment.

  • Now open for signup
  • Kick-off Live Session: Thu October 1st @ 12:00 CEST
  • Midway Live Session: Tue 10th or Wed 11th November @ 12:00 CET
  • Closing Live Session: Wed 9th or Thu 10th December @ 12:00 CET
  • Course Closed: Friday 18th December @ midnight

Please make sure to register before October 1st to secure your invitation to the kick-off webinar.

4-month full access to Video Course

The Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology online course consists of 5 modules, each subdivided in several chapters and (video)lessons. The videos will be 1 to 1,5h per module, and you will need a minimum of 8-10 hours to apply to your own business model, over 4 months.

Useful Templates & Trigger Questions

Besides the Sustainable Start Canvas, each module included some additional templates and/or trigger questions to help you deepen your understanding of everything and everyone that is related to your business, and check and innovate its sustainability.

3 Online Q&A Live-Sessions

We'll have 3 online live-sessions throughout the course. A kick-off, midway, and wrap-up session. See dates and times above. In each live session we invite your questions and welcome your participation to explore together. 

Learn and Apply at your own Time

All the material is released on Monday September 7th and will stay available for watching until the beginning of January. In between, you can go at your own pace applying the templates and trigger questions to your business.

You can still sign up until Oct 11th!


Course Program

There are 5 modules in this course. All modules are available for the full duration of the course. The first module gives a general introduction into Sustainable Business Model Innovation and the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology. Modules 2, 3, and 4 each guide you through a step if the SSCM to Map, Check, and Innovate your business model from 4 systemic sustainability of your business model. Finally, module 5 brings everything together into your own unique Triple Value Proposition and Sustainable Business Model Canvas.

Sustainable Business Model Innovation

Introducing to Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology

In module 1, we introduce you to the concept of Sustainable Business Model Innovation and learn about the 3 elements that make up the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology: 

  • 4 Systems Thinking Perspectives: Human, Social, Ecological, Strategic, 
  • our Methodology: Map, Check, Innovate, and
  • our Business Model Canvas: 13 building blocks and a Triple Value Proposition.

Map your System

Identifying everything and everyone relevant

Module 2 helps you widen your view and apply a systems thinking perspective as you Map and identify everything that and everyone who is important for the sustainable success of your business model.

We'll explore several trigger questions for the building blocks of the Sustainable Start Canvas to Map out your whole business model.

And, you can dive even deeper by using the extra templates included for each of the 4 Systems Thinking Perspectives.

The main questions we'll explore for each of these perspectives are:

  1. Human: What are the Universal Human Needs you (aim to) satisfy?
  2. Social: Who are the Partners & Stakeholder in your social system?
  3. Ecological: What input do you need and which output do you generate?
  4. Strategic: Where do you want to go and what do you want to achieve?

Check your Impact

Analyzing your (un)sustainability

Module 3 helps you Check and analyze how sustainable or unsustainable your business model is. We will introduce principles and guidelines for each of the 4 Systems Thinking Perspectives: Human, Social, Ecological, and Strategic.

The Social and Ecological Sustainability Principles (Broman, Robert, Missimer 2015) are the scientific definition for sustainability and outline the minimum requirements to build a sustainable society within the boundaries of the planet.

The main questions we'll explore for each of these perspectives are:

  1. Human: Do we offer any negative type satisfiers?
  2. Social: Do we contribute to any structural unsustainable obstacles?
  3. Ecological: Do we contribute to any systematic increases or decreases?
  4. Strategic: Which impacts should we focus on (first?)

Innovate for Sustainability

Rethink your business model design

In Module 4 we focus on the power of creativity to rethink the design of your business model and all its building blocks. To do so, we introduce trigger questions grounded in the Human, Social, Ecological, and Strategic perspectives.

This will help you refine the Value Propositions you offer to your customers, as well as review the systemic value you offer to society as a whole and the ecological systems you interact with. The strategic perspective ensures you prioritize the right things.

The main questions we'll explore for each of these perspectives are:

  1. Human: How might we improve sinergy and satisfaction?
  2. Social: How might we improve trust, adaptivity, and resilience?
  3. Ecological: How might we improve circularity and regeneration?
  4. Strategic: Which innovations/actions should be prioritized?

Your Sustainable Business Model

Bringing All the Building Blocks Together

Finally, in module 5, it's time to bring everything back together in the Sustainable Start Canvas. After going through the Map, Check, and Innovate steps you will have a much better idea how to strenghten your competitive ánd collaborative position.

Capturing your (new) business model will help you identify and explain the rationale behind how you create and deliver value, and allow you to effectively communicate your irresistible Triple Value Proposition and boost the profitability of your business model.

You'll have a better understanding how to continue serving your customers in today's fast-changing time, build social resilience and adaptive capacity, decrease dependence on unsustainable resources and activities, and ensure that your sustainability advancements benefit the strategic direction your working towards.

Look at what past participants have to say about applying the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology.

Robert de G.

Digital Transformation Agent

The SSCM offers several ways of mapping different parts of your business model with specific templates and trigger questions.

The Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology explains the broader topic of sustainability very well through several ways of mapping different parts of your business model with specific templates and trigger questions. Getting hands-on, I found the SSCM quite useful and applicable.

Pascalle B.

Innovation Specialist

I hope the SSCM becomes a reference for sustainable business modelling.

I am a fan of the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology and I really hope it will become a method of reference on the complex topic of sustainable business modelling. 

Franziska W.

CSR Expert

I can't wait to apply it to the company that I work at.

It was a really insightful event learning about sustainable business models. It was especially fun to work on a real-life example and hear other people's views. I can't wait to apply the Sustainable Start Canvas and see where the company I work at stands.

About the course instructor

Thomas van der Molen

Thomas is an intuitive and analytical systems thinker specializing in strategic sustainability, business model innovation, multi-stakeholder process facilitation and (inter-)personal leadership development.

He has close to 10 years of experience working with sustainable (business) development projects The Netherlands (where he is from), Sweden (where he studied), Brazil (where he lived for 2 years), and online with people from many other countries.

Thomas started Sustainable Start shortly after completing his thesis research for the Master in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability in 2016.

With his background in business management and strong interest in innovation, Thomas was curious how to integrate a Strategic Sustainable Development approach into the Lean Startup Methodology and the Business Model Canvas.

Based on this research, the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology has been developed over the past 3 years in over 25 lectures, workshops, and trainings. 

Thomas loves to work with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures to help:

- See things from a different perspective and develop a strong sense of shared purpose and vision,

- Understand their current context and their position in it,

- Spark creative ideas and innovative solutions, and 

-  Strategically transform into a future fit organization with a triple value proposition at its core and a sustainable, just, and regenerative business model.

Here’s what people say about the course instructor

Boshra J.

Technology student

It is clear that Thomas is an expert in this field.

He was very enthusiastic and it was clear that Thomas is an expert in this field. He communicated very clearly, explaining things in his own words and making sure the point was understood.

Helena M.

Innovation student

Great build up and interesting examples and exercises.

The build up of the workshop was great with a good pace and interesting examples and exercises. Thomas does a great job! 

Florence L.

Digital Transformation Agent

Good balance between theory and practical exercises.

I like how Thomas clarifies and explains stuff. The workshop flow was very good,  starting with some more theoratical basics to then dig deeper into various topics through conversation and sharing amongst the participants.

You can still sign up until Oct 11th!

"We depend on the whole as the whole depends on us."

On a personal note,

I sincerely hope you will join and enjoy this course. I strongly believe that integrating the 4 systems thinking perspectives of the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology will help you make your value proposition irresistible and your business model fit for a flourishing future. I invite you to take the first step towards our shared success together.