In a complex world, you don't need to choose a complex strategy to build a valuable business. That's the beauty of it.

Most of it is a choice (based on factors like personal inclinations, arbitrage opportunities, market gaps, and so forth) of which hook you want to use to tackle the market.

From there, it's a matter of sticking with that hook until it makes your business take off. However, the tricky part is that execution needs to be relentless, and it might take years before your vision starts to be shaped by the market!

Now that you are warned, what are some "strategy hooks," or as I like to call them, "strategy levers" to get you started?

A complete list is below, with links on the titles, which will bring you straight to the complete resource!

These strategies are all discussed within the Business Engineering book!

Blue Ocean Player

Blue Sea Player

In the business world, a Blue Sea is a space/market easier to navigate as it’s not crowded like the classic red ocean. However, the Blue Ocean focuses on creating uncontested markets. The Blue Sea strategy looks at zooming as much as possible within existing markets to find your minimum viable audience.

Constructive Disruptor


Niche player


Continuous Blitzscaler

Octopus Strategy

Gatekeeper's Model

Surfer Model

Real-World Case Studies

Cirque du Soleil (Blue Ocean Player)

Situation: Traditional circus industry faced challenges due to animal rights issues and saturation of similar performances.

Strategy: Reinvented the circus by eliminating animal acts, focusing on theatrical narratives combined with high-level acrobatics.

Outcome: Became a globally recognized brand, with multiple shows worldwide, and commanding higher ticket prices.

Nintendo Wii (Blue Ocean Player)

Situation: Gaming industry dominated by graphics-heavy consoles like PlayStation and Xbox.

Strategy: Introduced Wii with motion-sensing technology, targeting a broader family audience.

Outcome: Wii outsold competitors, introducing a new audience to gaming.

Spotify (Blue Sea Player)

Situation: Music industry faced piracy issues; existing streaming platforms had fragmented user experiences.

Strategy: Focused on curated playlists, user-friendly interface, and licensing deals with major labels.

Outcome: Became the leading music streaming service globally, reducing music piracy.

Netflix (Disruptor)

Situation: Video rental stores were the main way people accessed movies at home.

Strategy: Introduced mail-order DVD service, later pivoting to streaming with heavy investment in original content.

Outcome: Disrupted video rental and TV industries, becoming the top streaming service worldwide.

Etsy (Niche Player)

Situation: E-commerce dominated by broad platforms like Amazon and eBay.

Strategy: Created a platform specifically for handmade, vintage, and unique goods.

Outcome: Became the primary platform for unique items, building a strong seller-buyer community.

Uber (Blitzscaler)

Situation: Traditional taxi services dominated urban transportation.

Strategy: Introduced a ride-hailing app with dynamic pricing, rapidly expanding across cities.

Outcome: Transformed urban transport, leading to the rise of the gig economy.

Amazon (Continuous Blitzscaler)

Situation: Growing e-commerce market with challenges in user experience and delivery.

Strategy: Emphasized customer experience, invested in logistics, and introduced features like Amazon Prime.

Outcome: Became the world's top e-commerce platform, setting standards for delivery and service.

OYO (Octopus Strategy)

Situation: Hotel industry was fragmented with no standardized experience.

Strategy: Aggregated hotels, standardizing the experience, and rapidly expanding to other verticals.

Outcome: OYO became a significant player in the hospitality industry, expanding globally.

Apple's App Store (Gatekeeper's Model)

Situation: Developers wanted to reach the growing iOS user base.

Strategy: Created the App Store as the exclusive platform for iOS apps, setting rules and standards.

Outcome: App Store became essential for developers, with Apple ensuring quality and security.

DuckDuckGo (Surfer Model)

Situation: Search engine market dominated by Google, with growing privacy concerns.

Strategy: Positioned as a privacy-focused search engine, earning through non-intrusive ads and affiliate marketing.

Outcome: Carved a niche, attracting users who prioritize privacy, with steady growth.

Recap: In this issue, there are ten strategy levers!

  1. Blue Ocean Strategy: This approach involves redefining market boundaries and creating new markets with uncontested spaces. The goal is to provide exceptional value to customers at a lower cost. It involves finding new ways to innovate and render competition irrelevant, thus breaking the traditional trade-off between value and cost!
  2. Blue Sea Strategy: Similar to the Blue Ocean concept, the Blue Sea strategy emphasizes finding less crowded spaces within existing markets. The focus is on identifying a minimum viable audience and delivering unique value within those niches. This starts from the assumption that you can build an extremely valuable business by looking at a tiny niche (a microniche). The exciting thing is, with the Blue Sea Strategy, you create options to scale over time!
  3. Constructive Disruptor: This strategy involves being open to change, adaptation, and innovation to shape the industry's future. It focuses on pillars like lean innovation, brand building, supply chain optimization, and leveraging digitalization and data analytics. Through this strategy, you leverage the company's existing distribution network to launch new products that further tap into that distribution.
  4. Disruptor: Disruptive innovation, coined by Clayton Christensen, describes how new products or services initially target the bottom of the market and eventually displace established competitors through innovation and market adaptation. The disruptor will start from the bottom of the market and slowly, then suddenly, move upstream!
  5. Niche Player: A microniche is a subset within a niche, which can be leveraged by digital businesses to prevent direct competition with large platforms. As a microniche grows into a niche and eventually a market, scaling becomes feasible.
  6. Blitzscaler: Blitzscaling emphasizes rapid growth under uncertainty to establish a first-scaler advantage. This approach prioritizes speed over efficiency and aims for market domination.
  7. Continuous Blitzscaler (Amazon Flywheel): This strategy, used by Amazon, focuses on improving customer experience to drive traffic, thereby enhancing the selection of goods and decreasing prices. The positive cycle continues as lower prices attract more customers.
  8. Octopus Strategy (OYO Model): The OYO business model involves expanding into various verticals from its initial aggregator role, covering a broad spectrum of short-term real estate offerings.
  9. Gatekeeper's Model: In a world dominated by tech giants, this model suggests that small businesses need to pass through these gatekeepers to reach key customers, making them crucial enablers for global business reach. In that respect, a small business can learn the access key to gain distribution through these gatekeepers. And on the other side, if you want to build a gatekeeping company, you need to focus on building massive distribution.
  10. Surfer Model: The Surfer Model entails crafting a business approach that capitalizes on inherent conflicts within the dominant player's business model. By strategically designing a model that exploits these conflicts, you create a structure that disrupts the entire established company's framework, rendering them incapable of effectively countering your approach. This method relies on identifying vulnerabilities in the dominant player's strategy and leveraging them to build a resilient and competitive business model.


With ♥️ Gennaro, FourWeekMBA

Business Engineering Printed

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At the intersection of business model strategy, technology, and business development, The Business Engineer is the only official newsletter of, the leading blog about business model strategy and business engineering. The blog reaches millions of business people each year.

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