A cooperative (“coop”) or co-operative (“co-op”) [in Dutch coöperatie] is an autonomous association of people who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit. Cooperatives include non-profit community organizations and businesses that are owned and managed by the people who use their services (a consumer cooperative) or by the people who work there (a worker cooperative) or by the people who live there (a housing cooperative), hybrids such as worker cooperatives that are also consumer cooperatives or credit unions, multi-stakeholder cooperatives such as those that bring together civil society and local actors to deliver community needs, and second and third tier cooperatives whose members are other cooperatives (Source: Wikipedia).

cooperatives

Summarized  a coop means (for Dutch law):
a. A cooperation is an association (in Dutch: Een coöperatie is een vereniging)
b. The association exploits a company (in Dutch: Die vereniging exploiteert een bedrijf)
c. The company provides for “certain material needs’ for the members (in Dutch: Dat bedrijf voorziet in ‘bepaalde stoffelijke behoeften’ van de leden)
d. And makes agreements with the members (in Dutch: En sluit daartoe overeenkomsten af met die leden.)
Source: cooperatie.nl http://www.cooperatie.nl/over-cooperaties

Coop’s in the Netherlands are most known from the agricultural cooperation’s in which farmers organize processing and sales of their products. Most know is FrieslandCampina. But also a financial institutions like the Rabobank and Unive are a cooperatives.

Every country (or most) countries have one or more legal entities for a cooperative. Below some examples:
Netherlands:‘coöperatie’ or ‘coöperatief’ with the fonts W.A. (wettelijke aansprakelijkheid=legal liability), B.A. (beperkte aansprakelijkheid= limited liability) of U.A. (uitgesloten aansprakelijkheid= no liability)
– Belgium: coöperatieve vennootschappen, met onbeperkte aansprakelijkheid (cvoa) met met beperkte aansprakelijkheid (cvba)
– Poland: Spółdzielnia
– United Kingdom (till 2014), Ireland, industrial and provident society (IPS)
– Germany: Genossenschaft (kurz „e. G.“ oder „eG“, früher eGmbH)

But how can a cooperative be another way of crowdfunding/sourcing software?

As mentioned in my previous post Restricted crowd sourcing and funding for software, crowdfunding/sourcing is ideal for software development. Unfortunuatly in practice it seems to be quiet complicated. Even for example app development. Probably one of the reasons is that the backers for crowd funding, don’t have a real benefit from it. The software they need will anyway be made. Probably even for free.

For companies so B2B or B2C software, it is a different story. They have certain needs. They can look for software packages or develop it custom made. But better to co-source it with simular companies with different needs. The “consumer” crowdfunding platforms are not really for companies. Equity crowdfunding platforms with for example convertible notes should better. But you miss the crowdsourcing part. Besides it is more investors and as mentioned it is not working so well for software development.

Start an association in the form of a cooperative would be a possible solution. The entry (and exit) level of members for a cooperative is very low. The short term purpose is clear as the members (participating companies) would like to take their benefit with better software, which is probably also cheaper.

If you add the long term purpose to create value. Software gets value when it is used and earns itself back as soon as possible. So the more members, the more users, the more value.

If you like the idea and more important you have a problem to be solved with software cooperative then contact me by dropping a comment.

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