Running a Business

As the community grows we expect to include some, hopefully many, revenue-generating businesses. These might involve an individual, a group of members, a whole pod, or some other organization. Enabling this to happen is a goal of the overall project, and we want to see it happen. In particular, we want to make it possible by bringing people and resources and facilities together in ways they wouldn't have accomplished or been able to afford on their own. Conversely, we do not want profit-seeking to lead to the community and property being degraded for members who are not engaged in this sort of endeavor. To balance these facets, we have some plans.

Pod-organized businesses

Part of the operation of each pod will be presenting a plan to the community each quarter for how the pod will contribute to the ongoing operation and improvement of the property and community. Some pods will contribute physical accomplishments, some will contribute effort towards non-physical community goals, some will contribute financially, and some will contribute in other ways, while most will contribute in some combination of these. That financial contribution is likely to come from some sort of pod-organized business, potentially with paying customers, potentially through grant-writing for their endeavors, potentially in other creative ways we haven't thought of yet.

In this case, how a pod-organized business benefits the community would be planned and negotiated on a case by case basis during the regular progress of the pod making its quarterly commitments to the organization. The precise numbers involved here will likely take at least a few quarters to figure out, and are also likely to shift over time as the overall community develops. A very very rough guess at where this process might start is that a pod that only contributes to CoDwell financially, with no other pod-organized labor or efforts or accomplishments, may be expected to produce/generate/raise $1000 per month per member. We would probably not actually want a pod that only contributes financially. Rather, a pod that contributes half as much non-financial benefit to the community as another might supplement that with half of this monetary amount.

Pods will have more control over exclusive access to the facilities and amenities that they maintain and operate for the community. If the garden pod needs to use the shops to achieve their goals (profitable or otherwise), they would have similar priority to any other member who wants to use the shops. If, however, they need exclusive use of part of the garden to achieve their goals, that would be entirely within their purview as described in their quarterly plan.

Member Businesses

CoDwell exists to allow members to pursue their passions and shared interests, and a lot of members will have passions that can be profitable if that is how they choose to pursue them. We want to help those people make that happen. However, we do not want member-run businesses to substantially degrade the ability for other members to use and enjoy everything CoDwell has to offer. When considering how to schedule or reserve time for high-demand unique facilities and amenities (the theater, specific shop tools, etc), priority will not be given to businesses. Those businesses will be on the same level playing field with members who want to use those things for recreational or non-profit purposes. Also, businesses will not be prioritized based on how profitable they are for themselves or for CoDwell, again because we are prioritizing members' passions and efforts, not the businesses for their own sake. If a business outgrows the available space or facilities or time that this model can provide, it may be time for the members running that business to consider it successfully incubated and spawn a standalone operation elsewhere.

Despite not prioritizing business use of facilities, we recognize that the existence of businesses will increase demand for those facilities more than if everyone involved was only engaging in hobbies. To balance this, and to bring value into the community that can be used to further increase what is available to everyone, our plan is to ask member run businesses to give a small percentage of their revenue to CoDwell. This percentage would be affected by a few variables which might combine for a total range between 0% and 20%:

  • The expected amount of use of the facilities. People doing tech jobs from home hardly count as a member business. If all you need is internet, power, and a hot desk then we won't ask you for any extra money. If you need the entire welding shop for 4 hours a day, two classrooms every Friday night, and exclusive use of the communal errand-running vehicle for making deliveries multiple times a week, we'd probably be asking for a significant double digit percent of your revenue. Most things would fall somewhere between those extremes.

  • The profit model of the business. Some low-margin businesses would not be financially viable if giving any significant part of their gross revenue to a split, while some high-margin businesses might want the easier bookkeeping and less scrutiny of a gross revenue share. It is likely we would offer a %-of-gross option around half to a quarter of a %-of-net option, and allow each member business to decide where on that gradient they would prefer to operate.

  • The number of members involved in the business. If someone manages to launch a business that employs every member of CoDwell, that would fundamentally change the nature of the community, probably for the better, almost certainly in a way that most of those members approve of. In this case, the necessary revenue split would effectively be zero. Conversely, a business operated by a single member without benefiting or involving anyone else would follow all the other considerations described here.

  • Likely a few other distinguishing factors that we haven't brainstormed yet and will come up in practice when someone wants to do something exceptional.

The determination of all of these factors for a particular business would happen on a similar quarterly schedule to the pod planning schedule. If your business changes substantially over time, that could affect its relationship with CoDwell.