Incubator.coop: an Incubator for Platform Cooperatives

Incubator.coop is an incubator for new CoOp businesses.  

Incubator.coop is a CoOp itself.  This means we exist to serve our Members. To be even more precise, we are type of CoOp known as ‘non-distributing’ – so any surplus at the end of the year goes into improving the incubator – not distributing funds to investors.

Reposted from Ethicalfields.Pozible.com. Please support the crowdfund campaign and check out Incubator.coop’s homepage.

Our Foundation Story:

The idea occurred to a bunch of us at  when Pollenizer (the orginal Startup Incubator in Australia) shut down after only 10-years.  With the support of the Business Council of CoOps and Mutuals a small team formed that has sweated on this platform up to this point, lets call it incubator.coop v1.0

Our View of What’s Wrong With Incubators:

1. Conventional Incubators are not viable in themselves.  Instead they act as a business development tool for “side-car” investors trying to pick winners.  We think you need an incubator that exists to serve its incubatees.

2. Conventional Incubators look for a 1-in-1000 unicorn to repay their many wrong bets.  We think you need an incubator that creates businesses of value that go the distance.

3. Conventional Incubators looks for exceptional talent.  We think you need an incubator for collective endeavours

4. Conventional Incubators function with a top-down approach.  We think you need an incubator that harnesses the wisdom of the crowd.

5. Conventional Incubators promote returns for the 1%.  We think you need an incubator where 1 Member = 1 Vote

6. Conventional Incubators run for 6-months.  We think you need an incubator that supports the whole period of development from formation through to operation.

Who or What Gets Incubated?

We help any type of Cooperative to ‘Form, Organise, Fund and Operate‘.  The exciting areas of new CoOp formation include:

– Community Owned Enterprises – anything from a pub to a post-office, school to satellite, house to hospital

– Platform or Online CoOperatives – these are being created by online communities in place of Venture Capital backed 2-sided marketplaces

If you’d like to know more about a Cooperatives generally then click here

How Incubator.coop Works

What We Need

If we raise:

$5,000 from this campaign we will afford – the current website technology, all insurances and registration fees for 1 year.  This gets the incubator going.

If we raise a further $25,000 taking us to $30,000 we can afford to build software that solves the common blockages in collaborative work.

Avoiding The Tragedy Of The Commons

Collaborative ventures employ a variety of tools (web apps, social media, wikis etc.) and strategies (regular group meetings, webinars etc.) to make working as a group functional.

There are some challenges with working as a group that aren’t solved by todays technology and they include

1. Reaching a timely and productive consensus that in turn creates “collaboration paralysis.  

2. Groups try to be decentralised, but often most have a bottleneck around finance related decisions.

3. Collectives need a way to track and incentivise efforts with non-financial and / or financial rewards and

4. Groups need a way to create agreement contingent on future outcomes on the blockchain to improve trust within commerce

Incubator.coop Version 1.1 and Beyond

If we raise anywhere from $5,000 – $30,000 then over the coming 12-months incubator.coop will these funds to build out software.  This software will improve the incubator experience.

Events, Education, Mentoring and More = Sponsorship

If we raise more than $30,000 we can run more Events, Courses, How-To Webinars and so on.  Without that we need to make the incubator self-directed.   With the addition of Events, Courses, How-To’s etc you take on labour costs, but you also create Sponsorship Opportunities

New Member Services

A similar crowdfunding campaign run by TechSydney in 2016 raised more than $500,000 in membership and sponsorship from the Sydney tech community.    If we were to raise anywhere above $100,000 during this campaign then we would be delighted. 

If this campaign exploded and we had 20x first year operating budget – then YOU could vote on 1 Memebr 1 Vote basis – on how the incubator can best spend its funding to help members create successful projects.

Getting Dirty

For the Incubator to work we need YOU – actually need you.

Without Business Skills, People Skills and Industry Specific Skills surrounding the best CoOp ideas then they are unlikely to develop their potential.

We need people who have business skills

– Accounting

– Design

– Sales

– Operations

– Web

We need people who have people skills

– Community Engagement

– Facilitation

– Process design

We need people that have https://youtu.be/dEKHIhQMGL4

– Energy

– Water

– Waste

– Education

– Social Services

– Building

– Manufacturing

When Members surround a project they give it the best chance of success.

Working For Love, Money or CryptoTokens

As a “crowd sourced” incubator we aim to provide the “tech tools” for projects or “incubatees” to offer incetives to supporters – usually future potential CoOp Members.

The extent of the tools we can offer comes down to the success of this crowdfunding campaign.

If we get the money to develop the technology, then projects going through incubation can offer supporters black chain agreements and in turn offer payment contingent of future events.  This is a big deal.

It means that projects can offer an incentive like a deferred payment.  For example, if a supporter puts in money today and this is recorded on the blockchain then at a future time when the project goes on to be an operating CoOp (i.e generates end of year surplus) that supporter can get paid (perhaps even with a premium for their risk).

What projects offer supporters ultimately depends on what the CoOp wants to do.  Some steps they need to take can be completed by providing non-financial rewards like certificates of recognition.  Some activities can be paid for on a fee-for-service basis if all the supporters agree to pool money and make it happen.   We let the existing project determine how they bring in resources in order to go through the Incubator Processes.

Amplification

We don’t have a team and we’re not suitable for side-car investment like most Incubators in Australia.  This means we operate only on the word-of-mouth and support of our members.

We don’t have a PR team.  So we need you to

– Tell our story.

– Join as a Member

– Create a Group around your CoOp idea

– Then invite friends and family to join that group by becoming members themselves

As more of us joining we will find the “network effect” can kick in.  But until that time we need your help in spreading the word.

– Work with other Members on CoOp ideas near you or in your area of interest

Photo by molossus, who says Life Imitates Doodles

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