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Pre-formation Phase

Whilst this post is titled Year 1 Review, we’d actually been working on incubator.coop since a year previous.  The first discussions around the need for incubator.coop were conducted in April 2017.

In August of 2017, we launched a crowdfunding campaign where with support from individuals and organisations led to a campaign that generated our start up funds.  (Big shout out to Phoebe Coyne and George Mingin for their big donations).

In October 2017 we received our ABN.

At this stage we formed the inaugural Board and were then able to build the business.

The Formation Board

The Formation Board included:

Startup Phase

Platform

Based on the successful crowdfunding campaign we had done in 2017, we were able to bring on a group of pre-committed members in early 2018.  To bring them into something, we had to first create a web platform incubator.coop.

With our limited resources we constructed a WordPress website with a Peepso plugin that turned the Member Area into something like a social media platform.  This enabled Members to build their own profile, connect with each other, put Projects up for collaboration, complete education courses and place advertisements for help needed or services provided.

Member-to-Member Treaty

A “Treaty” within incubator.coop, is the moral obligation to a commitment made between incubator.coop Members and not a legal obligation.  

The power of this Treaty is in its record of events. A Treaty is not an Agreement, instead it aims to describe ongoing negotiations at a given point in time.

Members at a future date in time, can transform a Treaty into an Agreement that mirrors the Treaty terms.

A condition of your Membership within incubator.coop is that you will uphold commitments which you make with other Members.

Incubator.coop reserves the right to levy fines on Members that break a Treaty and in some cases breaking a Treaty can be grounds to expel Members for failing to comply with the Co-operative Rules that enforce Membership.

Types of Treaty

1. Project to Founder Treaty – In a conventional startup the founder starts with 100% of the equity and uses this to engage investors, co-founders, advisors and employees to build the business. Co-ops don’t work like this. With a Project to Founder Treaty you can articulate a founder’s reward that works for founders and members.

2. Project to Volunteer Treaty – Volunteers don’t need payment but clearly establishing expectations for both sides to this Treaty is essential to good community development.

3. Project to Professional Service Provider Treaty – Co-ops in their early days can struggle to engage professional service providers because they don’t have equity to share. This Treaty provides an at-risk and deferred option for payment of service providers that is fair for everyone.

4. Project to Mentor Treaty – Engaging with experienced mentors over the startup and scale up phase of a co-op is critical to the success of co-op ventures. This Treaty enables a co-op to provide a fair reward for the value provided by mentors.

Member Acquisition

In our first year of operation we had 100 Members join the platform.

To provide access to non-members we also allow a level of Social User.  These Social Users cannot access education courses, Treaty’s and other functions that are exclusive to our members.

Incubation Process

Each Project went through the process of Forming, Organising, Funding and Operating (FOFO) over 8 weeks.

New Co-Ops Formed

The primary reason for existence of incubator.coop is to create new member-owned organisations. 

To help move more Projects into the incubation phase we launched the Incubator Co-op Accelerator Program that ran through February and March 2019.  The Accelerator was able to assist each Project.  (Summary of Results here)

2019 AGM

Year 1 essentially concluded with the AGM on the 6th of May 2019.

Board Changes

After spending 2-years getting incubator.coop through it’s early days Paul Barnett is leaving the role of Chairperson with the full thanks of membership for his work.  Jill Storey will become Chairperson.  

Amy Orange has joined the Board.

Next 12-months

The incoming Board had a face to face Strategy Day on the 6th of May.  At this session significant issues from the first 12-months of operation were investigated.   The issues included

  • Platform bugs
  • Member engagement
  • Funding / Sponsorship opportunities that will enable 

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom and we identified a strategy for the coming 12-months assuming that we remain volunteer run.  We also identified a strategy that could result in sponsorship from within the Co-op and Mutual Sector.  With funding we would seek to scale up the non-funded strategy.

Conclusion

Incubator.coop has come from idea to fully functioning member-owned business.  By no measure is it smooth sailing going forward – we exist only because of volunteer efforts – however, we now exist.

We exist to serve the creation of new member-owned organisations.  We exist to create a future that is everyone’s business

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