As Start.coop works to lift up each year’s most promising entrepreneurs, our planning team uses the following criteria to evaluate applicants:
- Social impact: Does the business create a social impact? If so, what is it?
- Financial viability: Does the business model make sense? Is it viable long-term?
- Scalability: Can the business scale? How large and how quickly?
- Industry Experience: Does the founding team have relevant industry experience?
- Ability to execute: Can the founding team execute on their vision?
- Entrepreneur Passion: Are the founders passionate and dedicated? What skills do they bring?
Note that Start.coop is an extremely selective program, so we also recommend that you check out our additional resources section and the list of cooperative developers who form the Cooperation Works network. To make things easier for you, we designed the application to cover everything that should be in an early-stage business plan. Before you apply, take a few minutes to preview our application. And if you are at the beginning stages of forming your business, you can consider using our application questions to help you build out your business plan.
Our Commitment to Addressing the Racial Wealth Gap
As we work towards our vision of creating broad prosperity through shared ownership, we recognize that many populations -- especially Black, Latinx, Native American, and immigrants -- have been excluded from the wealth generated by the U.S. economy. We believe one of the many ways our society can narrow the wealth equity gap is by building companies that have an explicit intention to share equity with marginalized communities. The cooperative model empowers these communities to unlock economic leverage, create network effects, and build wealth for those who have been historically excluded. That’s why Start.coop prioritizes accelerator applicants that share wealth with people of color, women, immigrants and other marginalized populations.
More broadly, Start.coop is committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQIA, gender non-conforming persons, and people with disabilities. As idealistic as it may sound, we believe shared ownership is about creating more seats at the table for everyone.