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Dillon Fagan
Dillon Fagan

Posted on

Starting a worker co-op of software developers

Whoa, stop right there. Don't know what a worker co-op is? Read this first.

After many months of twiddling thumbs and considering the prospect in theory, some coworkers and I have decided to launch our own worker co-operative business. Two things prompted this decision:

  1. The corona virus pandemic and the need to close physical places of business revealed just how ill-prepared small businesses are for the digital age.

  2. As supporters of the growing co-op movement, we felt it was our duty to get involved and prove to other Rhode Islanders that worker co-ops can be just as successful (or more successful) than conventional businesses.

We've decided that our first pursuit will be in the web dev arena; the goal being to help small businesses in Rhode Island to elevate themselves to the same level of much larger companies online.

Our ethos is that small, locally owned businesses are preferable to big, corporate machines. Buying local creates a cyclical economy, which fosters the growth of community wealth, as opposed to the siphoning off of wealth that occurs when buying non-local. But the only way these local businesses have a chance at competing with the Amazons of the world, is if they can offer similar or better digital experiences for their communities.

Local farms and food co-ops should have more convenient websites for ordering fresh produce than Whole Foods. Local hardware stores should have websites just as good or better than Home Depot's. Local cafés and restaurants ought to have better ordering systems than Starbucks and Chipotle. And so on.

With an equal footing online, local enterprise has a fighting chance against the tentacles of Amazon, Walmart, and the like.

And so, Starboard Developer Co-operative is setting sail. We're out to prove that co-ops are the future model of doing business and that buying local doesn't need to be less convenient.

Starboard Developer Co-operative

Top comments (2)

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Benjamin Melançon

Our worker co-op, Agaric is in Boston (and various other places; i'm in Minneapolis now). Really love the focus on local businesses and have been thinking myself how needed that is with COVID-19 but haven't started to develop a business plan— it's not an easy market! Let us know if there's anything we can do to support. In accordance with our libre software and just plain co-operative values, we've started making our own internal documentation and guides public at and yes i'm just hoping you'll do the same so i can steal your fresher thinking and research!

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Lorraine Lee

I enthusiastically approve of cooperative principles. I'd love to participate, but localism seems to be part of your niche and I'm not local to Rhode Island. Good luck. Liked and followed on Twitter.