Key PartnersEstimated Reading Time: just 2 min

Key Partners are relationships that a company have with other entities that help the business model to work (for instance, suppliers, manufacturers or advisors). These partnerships are a helping hand needed to succeed in areas that would be inefficient for the company to take care by itself.

Some questions that are useful to understand the content of this block are
– What are the company’s partners?
– Who are the company’s suppliers?
– Which Key Resources is the company purchasing from partners/suppliers?
– Which Key Activities do partners perform?

There are 4 main types of partnerships:
Buyer-Supplier Relationships
Co-opetition: it is the strategic partnership between competitors that will still work together to reach a common goal (for instance creating Awareness of an industry)
Joint Ventures: they are usually meant to develop new businesses or synergies
Strategic Alliances between Non-Competitors



Most important Key Partners for Apple are Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) as, for example, Foxconn that counts 200k+ workers only in Shenzen, China. This is a Buyer-Supplier Relationship.

A way to innovate a business model could involve having new/additional Key Partners. That is what happened when iTunes Store opened and Apple started dealing with App Developers and Record Companies. That could be considered as Strategic Alliances.


Most important Key Partners for Airbnb are

  • Buyer-Supplier Relationships: Insurances, Investors, Payment Processors
  • Joint Ventures: Tesla Motors (“to bring charging stations to select hosts’ homes along the West Coast”)
  • Strategic Alliances: Sponsored Events

Also here, a way to innovate a business model could involve having new/additional Key Partners. That is what happened when Airbnb involved Freelance Photographers to increase the hosts retention.


Key Partners are fundamental in the Business Model Canvas since they are an helping hand a company needs to do to execute Value Propositions.

To determine Key Partners you can use Supply Chain Canvas.

Supply Chain Canvas is a tool that helps a company to build a Supply Chain that is tailored to your Value Propositions by:
– Defining Key Activities, Key Resources and Key Partners
– Visualizing the synchronization of the activities of the network

Supply Chain Canvas.png

The Supply Chain Canvas focuses on synchronizing a company’s Supply Chain by splitting it into 4 sections:
1. Deliver Value to the Customers
2. Looking for Efficiency inside Operations
3. Minimizing Costs while Maximizing Service Level
4. Minimizing Fixed Assets, Inventory and Account Payable

Learn more about the Supply Chain Canvas by following this link.

Nicola Zaffonato Administrator

Business Strategy | Product Marketing | Executive Master eCommerce Management | Business Innovation Master | MSc

I am driven by my personal growth and of people/contexts that surround me.

I followed a professional path in Valentino Fashion Group and Luxottica during which, thanks to the ability to understand different businesses and interests, I was able to succeed in Operations, Merchandising and Retail.

These organizations have exploited my ability to mediate and translate needs/constraints into practice, assigning me to Project Management roles.

Luxottica relied on my ability to analyze, to anticipate things and to imagine/implement solutions by appointing me in Supply Chain Management department and assigning me to the Product Management of IoT solutions for Anti-counterfeiting and Retail digitalization.

During this professional path, I also developed my leadership by managing teams to build Processes, Organizations, Systems and Governance Tools.

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