Placetailor – Updates for 3/16/2016

After a first round of interviews and some valuable input from Sasha and Evan, we regrouped last Thursday to discuss our progress. We realized we had started with a very broad project idea (co-everything!), which has been attempted multiple times elsewhere, and needed to narrow it down to something tractable within a semester.

The simplest (and easiest) part of the co-everything platform is the technical layer: something that connects clients to service providers and handles the transaction (for instance, scheduling and payment). We decided to focus on this aspect by working on developing a specialized platform not for “everything”, but for just one or two cooperatives. Once we’ve validated usability and built a core base of cooperatives and their clients, we can begin thinking about how to expand outward and establish a network of coops on this platform. Having recentered our project on the theory that there’s a need, both for coops and clients, for a platform to handle their transactions, we revised our business model canvas accordingly, and realized that before moving forward we needed to interview some coop clients and find out what transactions currently look like. Our updated business model canvas is available here.

In that light our team has reached out to our classmates in Restoring Roots and Vida Verde. As they’re also doing client interviews, they’ve kindly agreed to share notes and attach three of our questions to the end of their interviews:

1. How did you first hear about ____?
2. What was your first interaction with ____ like?
3. Tell me about the whole process, from first contact to transaction to completion.

We’re also in discussion with Broadway Bikes and BostonTech Collective, whom we interviewed two weeks ago, to see if they would be willing to let us observe clients in the shop and collect contact information from potential interviewees. Ideally, our full script would be:

Intro: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us! As we said earlier, we’re students at MIT doing some research about Boston-area cooperatives. We have a few guiding questions but this will be fairly conversational, and you should feel free to mention anything you think might be relevant.

 

1. How did you first hear about ______?

2. What was your first interaction with ____ like?
3. Did you know ____ was a cooperative? What do you know about cooperatives?
4. Did you have any complaints about doing business with ____?
5. Do you have suggestions for how ____ can do better?
6. How long did the whole process take, from first contact to transaction to completion?
7. Have you referred anyone else to this business?

Finally, Declan was able to connect with Josh Danielson from Loconomics, a San-Francisco based project doing very similar work in platform cooperativism, but starting with the freelancer community instead of the cooperative community. Co-everything would instead start from the coop side and eventually branch out to freelancers. Josh seems open to collaboration but we will need to decide how and what kind of relationship we want to maintain, as Loconomics is already pretty far along in the app development process and are planning to release soon.

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