Community Company Incubator

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"Differences between what we want and a customary incubator

Origin in people. The starting point is people, not projects or businesses. People, small communities (families, groups of friends, discussion groups…) that have reached the point of proposing to build a community company.

Destination in the community. But a community company is not a conventional start-up – there’s no capitalizing on expectations of capital gains and expansions, simply because the key to the model is that the company must always be property of community members. Although it can be financed in a complementary way, investors shouldn’t have a speculative view of the stock; its profitability will come from distributed surpluses, not from the sale of their shares to new investors in successive capitalization rounds. In other words: it’s a classical investment.

Scale and capitalization. Community companies are not large-scale undertakings, but rather large-scope; they don’t need millions in capital. In fact, our experience tells us that overcapitalizing is more dangerous than undercapitalizing, because it results in oversizing, which can turn out to be a dead end. While the scale of initial of a start-up is between 100,000 and a million euros, a community business’ is between 10,000 and 20,000 euros.

Free is better than open. There’s nothing more secretive than a project in gestation to become a start-up; and there’s nothing that benefits a community company more than taking advantage of the existing commons, like free software, business models, ideas… and above all, there’s nothing better than creating it on the basis of interaction with peers. That’s why “hacker hostels” have emerged, and the Y Combinator has set up a successful model of new incubators in the US.

Community as objective and as know-how. The key to community businesses is… knowing how to think about commercial/business matters with the mindset of the community. The most successful incubator initiatives in the latoc world, like TEC Monterrey, with more than 1,800 businesses successfully incubated, are the ones that have been able to understand the centrality of family and community relationships." (