Templating the Co-op Start-Up Process

Indeed, one would have thought that a domain name such as setup.coop would have been easier to find…

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I’ve typed “set up a level” in duckduckgo and this wikihow page came up… If you type “set up a co-op” this Co-ops UK website pop up. It has a broken image, but some useful information too, at the bottom of the page there is a link to ‘Select-a-Structure’, which very can quickly (Express mode) determine a suitable form for your co-op… perhaps both tools could be fused?

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I agree. I came to the conclusion that it was an attempt to reach out beyond the co-op niche, and I suppose I can’t judge whether it is effective in that context cos I’m not that demographic. I don’t get the domain name, and as I recall it is super-easy and cheap to create an LLP, so not sure who’s getting the margin.

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Yeah the standard fee is £40

And this lot claim to do it for £32 in 3-4 hours:

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Personally I think this is a good effort.

Outlandish started as an LLP because we couldn’t really understand what co-op meant beyond the “Seven principles”: hugging trees, being lovely, eating granola, etc.

It took us many years to enter the co-op fold, although we considered ourselves to be some sort of co-op.

I think this tool might be useful for allowing people to quickly and simply set up a co-op and get started, without having to deal with the FCA or understand the Somerset rules or sacrificing your first child at the full moon.

All that said, being an LLP cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds in excess tax so we still need to do the big job - making it easy to set up all forms of co-op - but this seems like a good start.

Thanks @dansmallaxe ! Also, be aware you can change your Discourse user name here: https://community.coops.tech/admin/users/30/dansmallaxe


Yeah, I agree. I think this approach is pretty awesome, @dansmallaxe. Yes, I want people to eventually know that they are a co-op, and be introduced to concepts, but I vibe with a drip marketing approach (though not sure if that’s their angle).

I really like the idea of “hey we make this stupid simple, so we’re going to charge $30 for all your valuable time we saved you”, and then you have a sustainable tool, and a list of people who’ve signed up to the core principles, with whom you can slowly introduce to a set of co-op values and existing communities. Frankly, feels kinda genius. And likely an approach my mind never would have stumbled on, even just 8 months into this co-op adventure. I like the idea of an ecology of approaches, some deep right away, and some shallow but gaining depth :slight_smile:

Also, as someone who started in Drupal (and is grateful to that community), I would emphatically support that NOT using Drupal was a great idea. Sorry! :heart:

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Hi All,

Super late to the game on this one, and LOTS of posts to read through. I’m a bit confused on the overall endgame here, however wanted to flag that we obviously put live the new system for FCA last year which allows for easier and digital registration of Co-ops.

It may be I’m completely wide of the point here, but wanted to flag this as it’s already up there and live, in case there’s risk of duplication of effort.

Feel free to ignore if you are trying to achieve something else :slight_smile:


Hey Nick, congrats on getting the FCA to accept digital applications - it didn’t sound easy!!

I think Level is kind of more about the “entry level” co-op - e.g. a couple of mates who want to do a thing together and don’t want to be each others’ bosses but don’t currently have a clear way of doing that (e.g. Outlandish when we started). None of us knew about co-ops beyond the seven principles, and we needed some company articles, etc. In the end we went for something like https://www.companywizard.co.uk/support/llp_company_formation and ended up with totally generic articles, and we weren’t on the co-op movement’s radar.

As @patcon says, it’s part of an eco-system rather than The One True Solution.


Me too. But I also have an allergic reaction to pointless neologisms. Why do people so often feel the need to create a new (meaning for a) word when there is no apparent reason to do so?

@dansmallaxe can you explain the reasoning? Why called these LLPs a ‘Level’? What’s the point?

And as @olisb says why not just call them co-ops, given that is what they are?


Interesting. How so? I mean LLPs are tax transparent in that they themselves don’t pay any tax at all. And the vast majority of accountants and tax firms are LLPs (and they know a thing or two about not paying much tax), so would love to hear a fuller explanation of how this came to pass? (although this is off-topic so perhaps I should create a new thread…)

LLPs work great if you plan to distribute all the money to the members, but if you make a large surplus and want to use it for good then you end up losing 40% of it every year, which is twice as much as any other company loses. Oops.


Yep it’s to do with what you do with profits, after taxation. If you plan to distribute/spend other than to partners, you’re effectively spending out of money that’s already been taxed at your highest marginal personal tax rate (in this case 40%).


Also this is a good guide to legal forms and their main features:


As is this:


Although a few bits now out of date. @coopsmark you gonna do an updated version? or is there already one? :slight_smile:

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Interesting reading about our experiment with the new start-up tool “level”, thx for the comments.

On a related note,open data services helped us put our worker co-op rules on github as another way to reach out to a tech audience. It’s been done in such a way that if people have improvements or want to tailor the rules to their own needs, they can. Edits can either be forked off into a new version or if in time deemed better practice than the original merged back in.

I like this idea and wonder if it would work for other core worker co-op guidance/resources like developing a how to start a co-op guide or the worker co-op code of governance.


Need to get this whole list up on there @athertonjohn


And on https://www.gitbook.com/ too

Then we need to contact all the sponsoring bodies and do the same with all their model rules too. List of sponsoring bodies here http://web.archive.org/web/20150924055310/http://www.fca.org.uk/static/documents/forms/mutuals-model-rules-sponsors-list.pdf (new FCA site doesn’t seem to have the list at the moment)

Love that. Might try to convert some Canadian model governance docs :slight_smile:

Not sure what data standard it’s using, but for future convo, Akoma Ntoso is a standard for legal docs (incl legislation and by-laws):

There’s an open source online editor: http://lime.cirsfid.unibo.it/?page_id=2

Akoma Ntoso has been finalized, but as with most specs, it has been criticized for being overly complicated. So I’m glad we are started with someone much simpler (and in existence!)


Oh hey, I dug up this tool I found ages ago:

It basically takes a Google Spreadsheet and uses that to drive the data of a visual drag-and-drop contract wizard. could prob be just as effective as by-law builder

With the right schema for the xml, the spreadsheet could be auto-generated, or vice versa (not sure the best canonical form)

EDIT: Seems their GitHub Pages website is down, but relaunched here (might need some love, in retrospect): https://patcon.github.io/Contract-Builder/JQuery/ (see below)

Original creator of the contract builder just pushed a newer, better version here:

They seem open to suggestions for features to make it more useful:

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Re: yourlevel.co.

Hey @athertonjohn, I have a group of technologists that’s tentatively interested in exploring creation of a similarly-intentioned tool for the Canadian context. Might you have any resources to share, or be open to doing a call? Curious how the experiment is going!

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