A smart revenue model is the core of present-day, successful businesses. Below I will describe unusual examples of revenue models that will inspire you.

It used to be simple: the baker baked bread, and the customer paid him. Or a carpenter was paid for his services. Most businesses followed the same basic revenue model: being paid for their products or services by the client. In 2019, there is a plethora of more complex revenue models. Below I will describe companies that all have unusual methods of making money.

Pay What You Want

Every year, Zest Business Consulting offers new clients a two-hour strategy session. How much does that cost? The customer can decide it for himself. This not only results in referrals and testimonials, but many clients also decide to continue to hire Zest.

Further Develop the Market


The company SmartThings has an open platform on which a community of more than 5000 developers invent devices and apps in the field of smart homes and the Internet of Things. The goal is to further develop the market, which will benefit SmartThings.

Connect Supply and Demand

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Limited, the logistics branch of Alibaba, connects vendors and parcel delivery companies. The vendors receive a competitive price, the delivery services are given a large volume of shipments and Alibaba earns money as an intermediary.

Make Fans Do the Job

Humanhuman is a digital talent hunter for record labels and festival organizers. The real work is done for free by music fans. A community of music lovers recommends artists whom they have discovered, and Humanhuman sells the data to record companies. In return, the music lovers build their reputation because they can brag about their famous discoveries.

Dynamic Prices

Container shipping companies such as Maersk Line adjust their prices based on the demand for a specific shipping route. When a ship is almost full, prices rise and vice versa.

Lock-in Effect

HubSpot costs very little in the first year, subsequently it is a little more expensive, and then even more expensive. It is especially profitable because few companies ever cancel their subscription. The reason is the so-called “lock-in effect.” Before long HubSpot contains so much valuable business information, which is difficult to transfer to other systems, that organizations can’t live without HubSpot any longer.

Free Software, But the Support Costs Money

Open source software’s source code is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Some examples of open source software are Linux (operating system), Apache (web server) and OpenOffice (office suite). However, if you want to work professionally with open source software, it is wise to pay a company like Red Hat for support.

As you can tell by these examples, there are more potential revenue models than you can imagine. Hopefully these examples will inspire you to rethink your own business and to devise new, innovative ways to handle things – resulting in higher revenue. Do you need more input to shake your business’ foundation? Play the DISRUPTR game!