Thomas Muirhead

Written by

Thomas Muirhead

26 March 2022

Co-Ownership

Start.coop: The Creator Economy, Rewritten for Storytellers

Whatever story your write, write it with Novlr

As we touched on in our original community ownership announcement, start.coop have accepted us onto their selective accelerator program. Through them, we have access to a world-class mentorship community to learn from the best, make Novlr a successful and profitable space for writers, and become the first creative writing platform majority-owned by its users. 

Who are start.coop?

Start.coop is an accelerator program that encourages ownership equity by promoting and supporting the cooperative business model. By helping cooperative businesses thrive, they aim to build an economy that shares prosperity among the many, not just the few.

Every year, they hand-select promising startups and mentor them through the structural changes needed to create a thriving, community-owned business, providing them with the necessary tools and support.

start.coop logo

What we’re learning

We’re still in the early stages of the accelerator, but we’re learning a lot about what co-ownership will bring to our community. We recently held an open user meeting to talk about the accelerator and our place in the cohort, so additionally, we have a better understanding of what you, our users, would like to see from this change.

Control and governance

This journey comes with many significant decisions that are important to our writers. Control and governance of Novlr moving forward is, of course, one of the biggest questions we need to answer.

One of the benefits of a cooperative business model is that control of the business lies in the hands of its members. Each writer with an ownership stake in Novlr has a vote – one member, one vote. This differs from the traditional shareholder model in that business decisions are driven by the needs of the group and not by the profit that shareholders can extract. Big business decisions are voted on with equal weight by each member, rather than investors having a larger vote share based on the amount of money they’ve put in.

That’s not to say that every decision will be something we vote on. There will still be a Nolvr staff team who will have the freedom to make everyday decisions, like pushing out new features and generally improving Novlr as a platform. But when it comes to major business decisions like whether to sell the company or change what it offers, that is all done through a democratic vote where every member’s voice carries equal weight.

Profit share

An essential part of co-ownership is redistributing profits to the community that created them. Aligned incentives are one of the reasons why community-owned businesses fail less often and are more sustainable in the long term. 

We don’t expect Novlr to be profitable for a while as it needs to invest a lot in developing the platform and the tools and services writers need. And to set expectations, large community-owned platforms don’t suddenly spawn hundreds of thousands of millionaires. But a majority of any profit that’s not reinvested in making Novlr better would be redistributed to all of you, Nolvr’s co-owners.

So what’s next?

The start.coop accelerator runs until June, so there’s a lot more for us to learn. We’ll update you as we go. There will be another open meeting on the subject of co-ownership on June 13th, so watch this space. And feel free to ask us any questions or give us your comments in the meantime.

Our next open user meeting will be on April 4th at 10pm GMT / 5pm ET where we’ll be talking about what writing and publishing services writers need to simplify the process. What services do you need? If you’ve used services in the past, where and how did you find them? What services would you like to see built directly into Novlr to help make writing and publishing easier? We’d love to hear from you.