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On June 1st, the Platform Coops Now! program starts. It’s a global initiative to disrupt the extractive economy model, by sparking the creation of digital platforms that can be owned by the people that use them. Conceived by Mondragon University and The New School, the course and accompanying accelerator program to be run by, are designed to first educate participants about platform coops, and then via an accelerator program to develop and build platform coops in Australia.

How it works

The course starts on 1 June, when Trebor Schulz from the New School will lead a global cohort through four weekly sessions that walk through the emerging opportunity around platform coops.  Then at the completion of the short course, participants can go on to form teams to design a platform coop – and apply to undertake the accelerator program. The program will accept up to 8 teams with at least 3 people in each team. The aim will be first design and document an executable business plan for the proposed platform coop over a 4 week intensive that is being coordinated by Mondragon University. Then over the next 12 weeks to start to build and grow the platform in the market. It’s likely that the initial concepts will be draw inspiration from current business models – adapting existing platform coops to Australian environment or adapting existing platforms to the co-operative model. For example, there is already interest around creating a platform coop for delivery drivers. There is a current operating platform called CoopCycle that has been developed in France that enables delivery of meals from restaurants. This could be converted to a medical & health store supplies model where the drivers own the platform and offer their services to pharmacies and retail stores.

Why Platform Coops are a better alternative

Platforms rely on scaling a their digital services. The value is created by each additional person that joins the platform, and the typical business model relies on the fact that the relatively fixed operating costs can create very large profit margins once a large enough scale is reached. In a very real sense they are a form of infrastructure, the digital equivalent of the roads that connect us. Given the technology is not a huge barrier, it is the network where the value resides. Member-owned businesses have a natural affinity with networks. Not only does the recycling of profits back to members create a clarity of purpose that underpins their long-term stability, networks are native to their model. Members gather around a common purpose and for this reason, they are an ideal structure for scaling a platform coop.

Join the Platform Coops Now! program

So we’re looking for teams that are interested in creating platform coops that can be owned by cleaners, carers, agricultural workers, delivery workers, graphic designers and tech workers, fitness instructors. Platforms that can be owned by their members and where they can offer their services to the customers without a middle-man taking a slice. If you’re interested, please click through to register.