Pitching Cooperativism 2016

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Notes copied from the Hackpad

Pitching "Cooperation"


Is there a pitch to disgruntled tech workers to get them to join coops?

Can we come up with a narrative and support structure for people in tech that is visible as an alternative to mainstream tech companies?

Rebranding cooperativism

Go Round

Matt - discussed rebranding cooperativism. What is it about the coop movement that is stale and mistrusted (see Coops Group, thanks). Confusions in society - links to communism... 

Brian - bit out of my depth. Go round the other way! I hope one day that this movement will roll out in a way that I'm proud of and not embarrassed about.

Mark - hoping we can come up with some ideas about benefits to pitch to tech workers and ways to get the message out there.

Felix - not very clear why I'm here but agree with what's been said so far.

Jack - interested in changing people's perceptions of what cooperativism is and finding ways to move this forward in tech coops

Elias - interested in the infrastructure and support side, how we can put things in place to enable coops

Shaun - feel strongly that the VC / Angel model is trying to shoehorn a 19th C concept into a model that doesn't fit, and the coop model offers an alternative at a higher level. Using the word coop really switched people on in Brighton and the coop group has a vested interest in this.

Kate - Rebranding - maybe not throwing it out but rebranding. What are the benefits of a coop and how can we promote this. Moving away from the the left and right conversation - coop is not / should not be a weapon of the left, it is beyond this. Loomio has raised £500K in funding to change the nature of investment in coops - they are really interested in what is happening here.

Louise - interested in where coops sit and how they're perceived. What is a coop? Is it a social enterprise? Holding on to coops as innovative and creative. Political education about the coop movement - how you can spread this around in subtle way as well as explicit.

Ed - started Coop Web 10 years ago. Started a charity that is not a coop because of funding

Harry - Outlandish's aims are to win more clients and workers with aligned vision. Ideally, we would like to do £1m work with credit unions next year. Really like that coops can be inheritors of neoliberalism as well as communism. Like the idea of smear campaign of non-cooperative businesses - show them as exploitative. It's about makers, self-determination.

Alex - one of my friends said in the pub was that all the pitch about a startup, actually what they want is a coop - change people's live, doing good work, having creative life at work, ownership. So how can you market and promote this approach and model?

John - increasing visibility, and then you have this what is the story that we tell? what is the support structure?

Overview of different types of Coops / General Discussion

7 principles are a good place to start as they apply to both consumer coops and worker coops

Extent to which you can reverse worker cooperativism into consumer coops

Consumer coop is owned by its customers e.g. Phone Coop, Coop Group. Boards voted by their members.

Current thinking is to bring tech coops into these bigger consumer coops e.g. Brighton Digital Exchange - owning a data centre.

We have massive shop window but we are not using that visibility - how can we piggyback on this reach?

Big thing in Scotland is local governments divesting themselves into cooperatives e.g. Glasgow Leisure services.

Similar stuff happening in the social sector - contributing towards privatisation of the public sector.

In NZ, our biggest company Frontera is a coop, but it is not progressive at all.

Brian - If we focus on the 7 principles, it is difficult to market that - too many.

Mark - B Corps are defined on their outcomes whereas with coops its about the process.

Shaun - has to be a simpler message than 7 principles. They are a broad framework which can get bogged down in what is good coop and what's not.

Kate - agree. A framework is not a brand. Inverse of good marketing which is a simple message about the benefits.

Elias - one of the reasons people are in a coop is to make a living and mental and emotional prosperity.

Kate - prosperity and freedom

Alex - politics is antagonism, it will involved at some stage. Antagonistic messaging can be quite effective.

Louise - how can we fight back and sell our message in a forceful way that doesn't betray ourselves

Harry - disagree that coops are about processes, they are about outcomes and results. I believe that if there were 1000 worker coops in this country we would be in a much better place.

Elias - can we look at the audiences first and tease that apart before we look at the messages?

Louise - massive policy change in Glasgow shows how things can totally change in a relatively short space of time.

Brian - understand about the audiences, but also there is one single message that needs to be put out there and then it can be rephrased for different audiences

Message to:

  • clients
  • workers
  • general public

Don't use the word:

  • socialism
  • coop
  • 7 principles

Breakout into small groups to brainstorm messages

  • avoid identifiable, ideological language (e.g. socialism)

General Public

  • Ethical
  • fairtrade
  • ownership
  • control
  • sustainable - stable - secure
  • accountable
  • practical
  • natural / common-sense
  • freedom
  • Demand prosperity and freedom
  • prosperity and freedom for everyone
  • Sustainability
  • environment
  • within business
  • The new world of work
  • working where you have total autonomy and creativity
  • Make our economy great again!
  • freedom from
  • rich 'exploiters' who don't give a shit about you
  • environmental degradation
  • Freedom is a fundamental human desire
  • "we want our freedom back"
  • Let's build it ourselves - you don't need to ask permission
  • Be yourself and get paid for it
  • things being fun at work
  • most people don't care about finding meaningful work
  • An alternative that works
  • Tech workers as vanguard
  • Skin the game in a coop


  • something like "value for money"
  • values = value
  • investment rather than expenditure
  • triple bottom line
  • transparency
  • honesty
  • trusted
  • engagement and commitment - working for you
  • more than a job
  • agile
  • not trying to rip you off
  • fascinated in what we are doing
  • happy devs - passionate devs
  • stable / sustainable
  • your business is our livelihood
  • can't be bought
  • independence
  • no shareholders
  • every £ goes on screen
  • socially responsible


  • complimentary skills
  • like-minded people
  • working together
  • simple
  • shared prosperity
  • 'democracy' - take control!
  • spread benfits
  • process / outcome focussed
  • 'stronger together'
  • education: case studies dispelling myths
  • doing work we enjoy
  • doing meaningful / purposeful work
  • togetherness
  • no boss

Next Steps

Long term aim and working group, these are short term actions

  • Get match funding
  • Talk to Gilded Splinters about creating a working group to discuss Coop branding and campaign ideas
  • Create a brief for marketing / branding campaign