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127 Yann Toutant: getting started with As-a-Service

Artwork for Circular Economy Podcast episode 127 with Yann Toutant

Yann Toutant is the founder of Black Winch, which helps businesses understand the opportunities, practicalities and benefits of shifting to ‘as a service’ models, and supports them in making it happen.

Yann has been implementing subscription-based models for hardware in the ICT industry for 25 years, including over a decade as CEO of Econocom’s Dutch operations.

Today with his own company, Black Winch, Yann Toutant helps CEOs and their teams to focus on the user experience by incorporating all components of an As-A-Service offer into a single in-house comprehensive, scalable subscription model. Yann sees offering a doorway to circular economy as one of the main drivers, making it possible to centralise ownership and to industrialise circularity at scale. 

We discuss why ‘as a service’ is becoming more popular, for business customers as well as for people in general, and then Yann talks about some of the benefits for service-based businesses, and how Black Winch helps its clients take the first, easy steps to ignite that journey.

Yann explains how, for some products, ‘as a service’ is likely to exist alongside traditional ownership models, and what he sees as the motivators for that.

International speaker, author and strategic advisor, Catherine Weetman helps people discover why circular, regenerative and fair solutions are better for people, planet – and prosperity.

Catherine’s award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started. 

Stay in touch for free insights and updates… 

Read on for more on our guest and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.

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Links we mention in the episode:

Links for our guest:

Books, people and organisations we mentioned

Guest bio

Yann Toutant is a European from France; he has lived and worked in the U.S., Spain, Belgium, and Scandinavia. He now bases from The Netherlands whilst embracing the location-independent entrepreneur leadership style. 

He is passionate about bridging cultural gaps between countries which has materialised in his role as President of the French Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands. He takes pleasure in supporting the business corridors between the two countries; animating the community of French/Dutch entrepreneurs and C-level executives to foster and reinforce the strong economic link between these main players on the European scene. 

Impressions versus possessions: the new key driver of many decisions in our society. 

Yann is a strong believer that the ‘location independence’ movement, focusing on impressions versus possessions, offers new opportunities to corporates and is a great booster for As-A-Service offers, especially in these post-pandemic times. From his own experience as a CEO, he knows that many CEOs are dealing with three major stones in their shoes: shifting business models, integrating startups, and attracting the “Y” generation. The mind shift from possessions to impressions provides solutions from the inside. He loves to integrate this way of working in the projects he runs as well as in his personal lifestyle. 

Along with his 20+ years of professional journey, he has taken up demanding roles in sales, change management, general management and consulting. As a manager, speaker, coach or mediator, he always strives to integrate the professional growth of those he interacts with. This requires getting people out of their comfort zones. He firmly believes that this helps them grow faster. Delivering results by developing people at the same time energizes him to move to the next challenge. 

When not dedicating time to work, Yann loves sailing to unwind and leave the shore for a few days. Yann enjoys the opportunity to embrace the world he lives in with a single glance. Being able to stand at the back of a boat and see how it represents a limited space containing all the resources and goods needed to make a journey, to reach his goal. “Tame the elements without shouting it from the rooftops” is one of his taglines. 

About Black Winch 

Black Winch supports organisations in turning a product-based business into a subscription model and moving from transferring ownership to providing usership. 

Today’s consumers and businesses want to use instead of owning. But that doesn’t have to mean that in this service-based economy, product-based businesses have a limited shelf-life. The successful subscription model approach can be applied to product-based businesses and create new business models. 

All along his 18 years of experience in the ICT industry, he has supported a significant number of manufacturers or service providers to implement As-A-Service business models, always including a product. And, when a product is part of an As-A-Service solution, it has its challenges to implement since it requires specific skills such as marketing and commercial cultural change. But most of all it requires the mastership of a skill called “financial engineering” to secure the scalability of the offers. 

As a founder of Black Winch, he has gathered a team of experts from the industry to concentrate expertise in the key areas necessary to a successful and long-lasting As-A-Service business model. 

The mission nowadays with Black Winch is to bring this knowledge and expertise from the IT world to any type of industry. The aim of Black Winch is to help entrepreneurs to shift business models in a secure way, to satisfy their existing customers or acquire new ones, whilst generating new profit streams. 

Each Black Winch customer has a different setting: from evaluating the potential and feasibility of an As-A-Service go-to market, to improving the profitability of existing ones. 

Black Winch covers the large scope of requests in supporting customers and shareholders reach their strategic goals thanks to As-A-Service solutions. 

Book: As A Service 

Yann’s first Book, ‘As-A-Service’ – How to turn your product based business into a subscription model was published in 2022 with the aim of spreading his commitment to connect As-A-Service and circularity.

Yann is a passionate advocate for the circular economy and believes manufacturers have the power to make steps towards preserving our earth’s precious resources. One way to do this is to shift their business from being product-based to an “As-A-Service” subscription model. As-A-Service allows manufacturers to remain owners of their products, transferring “usership” instead of ownership, to their customers. This means being responsible for creating a great customer experience and service, as well as reusing and recycling materials – something customers are increasingly requesting. 

But how do you turn a product-based business into As-A-Service? How to navigate from using this buzzword to actually implementing a successful and scalable in-house AS-A-Service business model? There is a large selection of books available about software As-A-Service, but none of them addressed product-based businesses. This, along with Yanns years of experience both personally and within his career lead him to the decision to write his first book on the subject.

Playlist: getting started with the circular economy…

Want to know more about the what the circular economy really is, and how it can help your business?  Here’s a playlist to help you get to grips with the concept, how it creates value, and the common myths (spoiler alert – it’s much more than recycling!)

  • #1 What is the circular economy: A quick intro to explain what the circular economy is and why it’s important. We explore how it helps create better products and services, and at the same time helps to make a better world. I break it down into my 5 circular economy components, helping you think about each part of your business.
  • #2 The linear economy and your risk checklist: We dig a bit deeper into the way we do business now, the linear economy, and why that’s creating problems for business, society and our living planet. Also, we’ll look at the risks that emerge from those big-picture issues, and how they might affect your organisation.
  • #90 Does circular mean it’s sustainable? Catherine Weetman is worried that companies are using circular economy solutions to grow their business (and their footprints).
  • #101 Circular is better for people, planet and profit! How three simple strategies can help you get started with circular and regenerative solutions that are better for people, planet and profit.
  • #120 Priorities are changing: people find life is better when we care for and share things – circular economy strategies make that better for business, too.

And here’s Catherine’s guide: What is the circular economy? 

Want to dig deeper?

Why not buy Catherine’s award-winning book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach, and includes hundreds of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy.  Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable. 

Please let us know what you think of the podcast – and we’d love it if you could leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you find your podcasts.  Or send us an email

Please let us know what you think of the podcast – and we’d love it if you could leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you find your podcasts.  Or send us an email

Podcast music

Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’.  Or, follow them on Twitter.

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Yann Toutant is the founder of Black Winch, which helps businesses understand the opportunities, practicalities and benefits of shifting to ‘as a service’ models, and supports them in making it happen. Yann has been implementing subscription-based models for hardware in the ICT industry for 25 years, including over a decade as CEO of Econocom’s Dutch operations. Today with his own…

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