Entrepreneurship may seem like an independent endeavor, but as the old adage goes, there is strength in numbers. When independent businesses work together, they can serve more customers and take on bigger competitors. Perhaps more importantly, they can reduce risk and share rewards. Thanks to a new program from Start.coop, more and more entrepreneurs are learning how to work together in a cooperative business model.
In a cooperative, or “co-op,” the business is owned jointly, typically by employees or customers. The owners or members of the co-op work together to see a return on their investment and grow the success of the business. They may work together in the business—stocking shelves, taking orders and the like—or they may join the co-op for exclusive benefits, like discounts or buying power. Either way, the essential quality that separates co-ops from traditional businesses is this shared ownership.
Start.coop offers a 12-week accelerator program that demystifies the co-op model for interested entrepreneurs. The program teaches entrepreneurs how to start and scale their own co-op, as they work and learn alongside a cohort of their peers. The course involves both virtual and in-person workshops, webinars and other resources.
True to its word, Start.coop is a co-op itself. Each entrepreneur who completes the accelerator program becomes a shareholder of the organization, allowing him or her to remain connected with Start.coop even after graduation. Additionally, Start.coop invests $15,000 in each new co-op created by the program’s graduates.
For independent businesses and entrepreneurs, the co-op model presents an opportunity find success as a collective. Take Do it Best Corp. as an example. Do it Best is a member-owned wholesaler of hardware, lumber and building materials. Members who join the Do it Best co-op are able to leverage the aggregate buying power of all members to obtain better prices on inventory for their own independent hardware stores. In this way, Do it Best members can better compete with big-box and national chain competitors on price and product selection. The cooperative model has been a key to Do it Best’s success—and the success of its members—since 1945.
Start.coop envisions this level of success among a new generation of entrepreneurs. With mentorship, investment and training, Start.coop grooms independent business leaders and entrepreneurs to “share prosperity among the many, not just the few.”
To learn more about Start.coop and the accelerator program, visit www.start.coop.