We have so many startups, but we need more crowd-ups
The history: The cooperative (aka co-op) is as old as civilization, or perhaps humanity itself. The formal definition of a cooperative is “a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit.” Although it can serve diverse business needs, two leading applications of the cooperative business model involve agriculture and credit unions. Such co-ops are fantastic at aggregating purchase, storage, and distribution of resources both natural and man-made.
The “worker cooperative,” which involves worker-owners, is perhaps the most widely understood contemporary model. In a workers’ co-op, membership (or ownership) is not required, but only employees can earn the right to own equity. For profit or social good, a cooperative is best conceived in the form of a farm or garden that people cultivate and harvest together. Where better to map that community business model than the Internet, which affords boundless borders, innumerable contributors, and economies of infinite scale?
Solution: To manage, execute, and organize the varied responsibilities, roles, and tasks associated with any startup requires incredible effort and transparency. Often, founders will assume the work of several full-time employees to get it all done. In a crowd-up, however, the work would be open and distributed among a crowd of passionate, engaged, and invested (literally) contributors. All workers would organize themselves with a tool likeBettermeans.org, which uses open and democratic means for managing work and compensation. The reward would come in the form of “sweat equity” and profit-sharing as determined by the community of contributors.
Exhibit A: As we are inclined toward “meta” topics, I’d like to submit this site, PleaseStealThisIdea.com, as one potential example of a crowd-up. Anyone can contribute an idea, and we all share the bountiful inbound web traffic (and of course reputation boost) for the brilliantly mediocre ideas that we share as a community.
Citation: Andrew Magliozzi