Start.coop, the first accelerator program designed to help scale cooperatively-owned startups and cooperative tech platforms, celebrated the graduation of its inaugural cohort last week in San Francisco.
“Start.coop is the first accelerator specifically designed to support scalable co-ops and the growing cooperative platform community—businesses owned jointly by members who share in the profits and benefits,” said Greg Brodsky, Start.coop’s founder and director. “In the last few months, our inaugural cohort of teams made great strides in advancing their businesses and validated our accelerator model, too. We’re excited to shine the spotlight on this new generation of scalable, tech-based co-ops and share the insights, successes and lessons learned from our first accelerator cohort.”
Start.coop participants completed an intense, 10-week, cohort-based program where they gained access to training, mentors and strategic tools to help transform and scale their cooperatively-owned businesses. With its cohort-based approach, the program helped the startups learn from each other, test their business models, and grow more quickly. The inaugural cohort includes:
- The Staffing Co-op, a labor staffing platform owned by workers
- Driver’s Seat Data Co-op, a data aggregation platform owned by gig drivers
- Savvy Coop, the nation’s first patient-owned health data platform
- Expert Collective, a consulting platform that connects industry need to academic experts
- Arizmendi Roots & Return, a worker-owned construction co-op building affordable housing
The five startup teams met in the Bay area last week to present their co-ops at a series of events, including:
- SEED Conference (building a better impact investor ecosystem)
- Transform Conference (large-scale systems change and new funding connections)
- User, Worker, Owner! (building equitable ownership of workplaces and online platforms).
Graduating teams pay it forward by reinvesting a percentage of their future revenue back into the accelerator. This revenue-based financing model is a non-extractive investment model proven successful by hundreds of start-ups in the Fledge Accelerator network. Fledge is a global network of conscious company accelerators (including Start.coop) and investment funds, helping entrepreneurs create impactful companies and co-ops at scale.
“We believe that if you care deeply about wealth inequality, then co-ops should be your preferred ownership model. However, people don’t always understand what it means to be cooperatively owned. So we’re focused on helping our individual co-ops scale, as well as updating the narrative,” Brodsky said.
“Large scale cooperatively-owned businesses are all around us: REI, Ace Hardware, Cabot Creamery, Ocean Spray, Blue Diamond, Bob’s Red Mill. We know that co-ops create economies of scale and level the playing field, especially for economically disadvantaged groups—women, minorities, immigrants, family business owners and veterans. By investing in co-op startups and demonstrating their ability to scale, we have the potential to start reversing wealth inequality for the next generation,” he added.
Start.coop is supported by Equal Exchange, the Beyster Foundation for Enterprise Development, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, the Cooperative Fund of New England, the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund and CCA Global Partners.