A new Boston accelerator is kick-starting an old model: Collectively owned cooperatives.
Start.coop calls itself “the first accelerator program designed to help scale cooperatively-owned startups and cooperative tech platforms.” In essence, it’s operating as an accelerator that only accepts co-ops, a.k.a. companies that are owned entirely by their workers, users, or consumers.
“Cooperatively owned businesses are for-profit businesses that exist for the benefit of their members,” said Greg Brodsky, founder and director of Start.coop. “If you go to a traditional company, usually you have investors on one side, and all they’re contributing is capital. If someone puts in 51 percent of the money, they own 51 percent of the company. The only goal for most publicly traded companies is maximization of shareholder returns.”
A co-op, on the other hand, exists for the benefit of its members, who are by definition its employees, users, or consumers. Workers are stakeholders in the business’s financial success based on their labor contribution. They also are represented in the company’s management structure.
Start.coop counts five teams on its inaugural cohort: the Staffing Co-op, a staffing platform; Driver’s Seat Data Co-op, a data aggregation platform owned by gig drivers; Savvy Coop, a patient-owned health data platform; Expert Collective, which connects industry need to academic experts; and Arizmendi Roots & Returns, a real estate investment co-op building affordable housing.Read Complete Article