Potential platform co-op - feedback and thoughts?


Hey guys, I’m new to this community so please bear with me - was suggested I should post here.

I’m the co-founder of BuySmart, a new startup that has soft-launched in July - I’ll try and keep it short - you can read more about our launch and mission in this article by Positive News.

Basically community is key to what we are doing, with a clear social mission etc, and have had a few people suggest to me that going down the route of platform co-op is a strong option, and the more I read about it I’m inclined to agree. The truth is though, I know very little about the process and there seem to be a number of options I’m trying to get my head around.

I’m speaking to Dave Boyle at Community Shares, Phil at Crowdfunder, and have been introduced to Vivian Woodell, but am trying to get as much feedback as possible.

Would hugely appreciate any advice, especially around the process of bringing on a tech co-founder/building a founding team, without the option of being able to offer equity (which I assume is off the table with a co-op?).

Happy to answer any questions




Hi James

I’m having a few parallel discussions about this at the moment - would be great to compare notes and get your perspective. Could do a call/coffee later this week? I’m at dan@thesmallaxe.com - let me know your availability and we can set something up



Thanks Dan - I’ll drop you an email



If you’re a worker owned coop you can do whatever your want with profit as

In New Zealand coops can have multiple forms of shares. So for example in
Loomio, each worker has one share. These are non - fungible. We also have
redeemable preference shares - like a loan which gets paid back under
certain conditions, with interest, and before other sorts of debt are paid.

I guess the question for you is probably “are you up for shared
ownership?”. If you haven’t done anything like that, getting experience in
community and working alongside others should be an immediate priority.


Thanks for your feedback, appreciate it.

The way I’d envisioned it (correct me if this isn’t possible) would be something similar to the Stocksy model I read about recently. 3 tiers of shareholders - founders, employees (could combine these two depending on size of founding team, when people join) and members, all of which with a stake but different levels of responsibility. Is that viable/recommended?

In theory, I’m definitely up for shared ownership. I think it fits our concept perfectly, but you’re totally right in that I have no experience in it. I’d love to spend some time with any co-ops to learn more, if you have any suggestions.

Are you part of Loomio? I’ve read a lot about you guys - isn’t Rich due to be in the UK soon?


That sounds like a multi-stakeholder co-operative, the FCA approved model rules for co-ops of this nature that I have most experience with are the Somerset Rules, I’d suggest contacting somerset.coop to see if they can help you.

The Fair Shares Association are also working on mult-stakeholder rules but as far as I’m aware they don’t yet have FCA approval.


We have a Loomio group that we try to use for formal decision making but we are not a part of Loomio.


Hi James,

You might be interested in coming along to this event:


Thanks Polly - registered


Thanks Chris, I’ll get in touch


I helped build Loomio - worked and owned it for a few years. Rich Bartlett
is an active worker owner, he’s in the neighborhood I think he’s, not sure
when he’s where


Ah OK thanks - I was hoping to catch him when he’s in London, I’ll try and drop him a line.