March 1st, 2018 13:32

Should we apply to the CUK platform coop accelerator project?

Graham Public Seen by 160

Today sees the launch of unfound.coop - should we submit an application?


Graham March 1st, 2018 13:39

Context: In recent weeks I've been spending time thinking about the needs of the cooperative development sector and how they might be addressed. I've spoken to a good number of people in that process and considered various options. I've come to the conclusion that a two-pronged solution is required:

  1. To bring together the existing cadre of people involved in cooperative development work, both 'pros' and 'barefoot' types, to provide mutual support and to leverage their knowledge and expertise to enable this small group to meet a growing level of demand.

  2. To engage with the wider cooperative sector and beyoned to enable financial and other support to flow in so that the level of resources within the coop dev sector can increase, growing the number of people and skill levels within the sector. This is best delivered through a common digital platform.

This makes us a platform co-op by the definnition as expressed at http://unfound.coop

If we're able to get on to this scheme it will of course be highly useful in terms of building our profile within the co-op sector.


Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

I think that we should, even if it only forces us to get our shit together around mission, values, governance etc. thru the application process: The application (by end March) would need us to define:
1. Purpose - vision,mission,values
2. Current steering group, governance model
3. Business idea - market research
4. Technology - do we have an actual MVP?
5. Membership model
and finally
6. The three main challenges we face
They also want a business plan as supporting documentation


Graham March 3rd, 2018 06:12

I've made a start.


Graham March 3rd, 2018 06:27

I was about to post a link here to my working doc, then I noticed that @jonnygordonfarleig is part of this group, and also one of the Unfounded project organisers, and I don't know what the potential conflict of interest/ethics are on this. Jonny, your thoughts?

Jonny Gordon-Farleigh

Jonny Gordon-Farleigh March 3rd, 2018 09:07

Hey @graham2, well, I will only be one of five application assessors. I've also seen the docs of others who will apply - i.e. Fairmondo UK - so I don't see it as a problem. I guess I'll see the majority of the working doc in your application, answering the questions Mark has outlined above. So up to you!


Graham March 3rd, 2018 11:10

Here's a link to an early working draft. Please add to it as you see fit, but let's limit access for the moment until we have something that we are happy to share elsewhere. https://docs.google.com/document/d/10hcVtjsh-LIzo--RoFzErxeUKeCy3TMvpCO4kqpQYfY
I'm doing this on my aging and tiny iPad so I'm not sure right now what level of access this link might afford. Let me know if it needs attention.

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture)

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) March 5th, 2018 12:56

We've got edit rights so should be good


Graham March 5th, 2018 12:58

Excellent. Feel free to do so. Very happy to talk about this also.

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture)

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) March 5th, 2018 13:03

On my "to do" list when I get some time


Graham March 5th, 2018 13:22

I appreciate that people are busy. I'm happy to take a lead and help drive this forward to be able to submit a strong application before the month end. To help with that, it would be great if people who do have an interest could take a few minutes to read through the early and incomplete draft as it stands and come back with an iniital reponse, which could range from "I don't have a clue what the **** this is about" through to "this is utterly the wrong way to go" or equally "this a great initiative and I'm keen to get stuck in". :-)

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Will do tomorrow Graham

Dr Mark Simmonds

www.culture.coop ( http://www.culture.coop )

0741 999 1506

Co-op Culture Ltd., Company reg. no. 9649522

Co-op Culture logos

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

I think if you restrain yourself from working on any application Jonny, but contribute to any wider discussions (such as vision and mission) that would be useful. However you would still need to declare a potential conflict to Unfound IMO.


Graham March 9th, 2018 13:01

This weekend I shall be digging into http://platformdesigntoolkit.com

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Canvas-tastic looks interesting


Graham March 9th, 2018 17:46

Does anyone in this group have any insight into what Vivien Woodell is cooking up with this new foundation? I've been menaing to write to him to invite collaboration. Good idea?

Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts)

Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) March 9th, 2018 23:32

The Foundation’s mission seems to be expanding/replicating proven models, but it’s far from operational while there are shenenigans at Phone Coop

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) March 10th, 2018 10:04

I think that a conversation is certainly in order. I'll be seeing
him at CUK Board meeting in a couple of weeks.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) March 20th, 2018 11:19

Do you think that an application is going to come together @graham2 ? Do we need it?


Graham March 20th, 2018 12:36

Do we need it? I would argue that the profile that inclusion in the programme could procide, and the access to insight from Stocksy about how they manage their governance with 1000 geo-distributed co-owners are highly valuable and worth the effort of applying. Whether the application will come together in time is down to us. I am keen to pursue it, and I'm continuing to work on it, but I can't do it without active input and support from others.


Graham March 20th, 2018 13:42

We need to get cracking on some financial projections - i think I've got some useful spreadsheet templates that might help for that, unless someone else is already on that case? Also I think we need to get input from other CoopDev people, but it seems that this group is capped until we invest in the upgrade. I'd like to know what others think of the basic proposition, and also get a better understanding of what people think the current problems/bottlenecks are and how a digital platform could best serve the need. I'm also keen to get insight onto how we could use a digital platform to assist with innovation. I've got my own ideas and thoughts on lots of this, but I know that others will have better ones.


Graham March 20th, 2018 13:45

What do people of think of the suggested roadmap? I'm a firm believer of not building bespoke software unless it is needed, simply because of the costs and risk involved. Are there other options that we should be looking at?
There's also a list of stuff that we'll need to address in the guidance notes (http://unfound.coop/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/UnFound-Guidance-Notes.pdf) - although I think we have a good bit of this covered.


Graham March 20th, 2018 17:06

Questions: with the Hive, a startup applies for support, and someone in the back office decides who gets the work, is that right? If the applicant says "we've been talking to Mark Simmonds", then Mark tends to get the work? In an open platform, the applicant could view the profiles of service providers and make their own decision about who they want to talk to. They could talk to several people. If service providers respond to these requests for communication, at what point does the clock start ticking? How does it work in real life? Is the a common shared code of conduct and shared policy framework?

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) March 21st, 2018 09:28

That's one thing for us to talk about. I suspect that as with
Hive work, there may be some pro bono support up front. Possibly
this could occur in the open on the platform with anyone pitching
in with advice and signposting.

The foundation for social change is an interesting model,
requiring sponsorship for any proposal from a member. Maybe any
proposal for support would be a partnership between a co-op member
and a CDB member. Maybe we can hard-wire in a tender process that
would weed out unsustainable ideas (or send them away to do more

There would also potentially be proposals to fund things that
weren't co-op support, like events and other market-making
activity. There might even be proposals to further develop the
platform - basically we use one participatory platform do the

BTW I bounced our project off Vivian Woodell last night and he
thought it very interesting and a great idea.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) March 21st, 2018 18:22

Not sure what the roadmap is @graham2 Have you got time for a chat tomorrow?

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) March 23rd, 2018 18:13

I'm putting together a business plan this weekend for submission deadline - end of next week.


Graham March 24th, 2018 11:45

For anyone that wants to be named as a member of the steering group, which should at least be the directors of the cooperative, it would be great if they could make themselves known and provide a brief bio for inclusion in the submission/business plan. Ta.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) March 25th, 2018 06:52

I'm thinking that the 3 challenges we can identify for the application are:
1) Getting the tech to work and evolve across MVP stages
2) Getting the offer/marketing right for such a diverse range of potential members; and
3) Getting member engagement - there's a danger members will passively contribute funds but not engage with the platform.


Graham April 5th, 2018 09:36

News just in. We were not successful in being shortlisted for the Unfound programme. I'm not surprised. We are given to understand that there were a high number of submissions (which is great to hear), and also our pitch is sensitive in that it could be seen to be competitive to orgs like Cooperatives UK and others. Our plan is also very much a draft, and although I can't speak for Mark, my experience in putting it together with him showed to me that we still have a fair way to go to clarify and hone the thinking behind the proposed business model.
The process of applying was very useful, and in my view has enabled us to take several jumps forward pretty quickly.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Thanks for all your work on this Graham. I was not overly hopeful, but as you say it's given us some impetus and a draft business plan to talk about at the on-line meeting next week. I'll start an agenda in the meetings thread.

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture)

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) April 6th, 2018 11:35

TBH I think that we will have access to the resources/expertise that the Unfound programme gives through our existing networks anyway. I aim to look at BP over next few days and give feedback. You are both right, the process has made us tighten up so no bad thing

Gareth Nash

Gareth Nash April 6th, 2018 12:17

Yes, thanks for all your work, Graham, Mark and others. As you say useful. I will also have a gander over stuff over the next few days. I am organising a day of resistance at the frack site on Thursday but hope to be able to find a quiet spot away from the protectors and the police to participate in the zoom call. If it's untenable, I won't disrupt