A group of veteran entrepreneurs launched Start.coop this week, the first US-based accelerator for cooperatively owned startups looking to scale. The group plans to raise over $2.5 million to help startups use distributed ownership models to create economies of scale, whether through well-established group purchasing models or through newer tech based “platform co-ops.” The accelerator is accepting applications for its first class starting this July.
The unique co-ownership structure of co-ops makes them incompatible with most existing accelerators and venture capital deals. Rather than looking to sell equity to investors, these entrepreneurs are looking to share their equity with their employees, customers, or users. Entrepreneurs from a wide range of sectors have already expressed an interest in applying to the accelerator. Possible participants include a team launching a driver-owned competitor to Uber, a purchasing co-op for local energy dealers, and a tech start-up in which patients own the profits on health research. Through Start.coop, each startup will receive an initial $10,000 in cash, and will have the chance to learn best practices from established mentors.
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