Minipreneurs - Resources
Minipreneurs are independent entrepreneurs, usually individuals or 'free agents' that aim to work independently of intermediaries, using collaborative platforms with like-minded individuals.
More information at http://www.trendwatching.com/trends/MINIPRENEURS.htm
Comments from Michel Bauwens in P2P News 87:
"I have written before about my hypothesis of a reconfiguration of capitalism to a netarchical model, whereby a new subclass of for-profit companies arise that enable and exploit the emerging participative networks. Both terms are important, they do indeed enable and facilitate, but as for-profit companies they are perpetually tempted to betray the trust of the participants (see the example of Yahoo below). I mentioned eBay, Amazon and Google as key examples. But these are very large companies and miss an important aspect of the new P2P Capitalism, namely the bottom-up aspects. The whole infrastructure set up by these and many other smaller companies is enabling a growing numbers of 'autonomous mini-entrepreneurs' to produce and ply their wares. One feature of the new P2P capitalism is the blurring of the positioning of workers and owners of capital. It was already the case with the extension of shareholder capitalism (with many American households holding shares and thus a stake in the system), and obviously through the role of the pension funds. But this is a new take: many millions of workers will become autonomous entrepreneurs, or at least 'free agents'. Instead of the dependence of wage workers to industrial capitalists, we have the dependence of the minipreneurs to the infrastructure set up by the large netarchical groups.
Despite this negative aspect, and the general insecurity of being a minipreneur, I do see positive elements in the autonomy it entails (the new re-intermediation seems more congenial than the old ones), and the new form of distributed capitalism also has many positive aspects that will co-exist with the in my view higher promise of a commons-based non-profit P2P political economy. Two important elements seem to be the following: how can civil P2P processes be made more independent of netarchical infrastructure, which may at any time betray them; and the development of an open and commons-based infrastructure for the minpreneurs, making them equally more independent of such groups."
Trendwatching.com offered a rundown on some of the resources they can use:
- eMachine Shop
"Lets ordinary consumers download free, easy-to-use software which they can use to design objects like car parts, door knobs, in metal or plastic. They can then get a quote, order the product online and eMachineshop will forward the design to a 'real world' machine shop for manufacturing. Suddenly, MINIPRENEURS have injection molding, milling, turning, laser cutting, waterjet cutting, wired EDM, tapping, bending, blanking, punching, plastic extrusion, thermoforming, and casting at their fingertips." (commentary from Trendwatching.com)
Ifabricate.com is a platform for do-it-yourselfers where they can trade ideas, contribute to a common encyclopedia, and pool resources. Emachineshop.com brings the community in touch with all those who can turn their designs into a physical model.
If Lulu.com caters for the self-publishing needs of the P2P generation, then Pure Volume is such a place for self-produced music, see at http://www.purevolume.com/ ; Deviant Art is a similar site for graphical art expression, see http://www.deviantart.com/ . Similar sites are springing up for physical products, i.e. self-produced designs and such, for example Zazzle.com, Qoop.com. The biggest is Café Press. Below are a few directory entries on such sites.
- Café Press
URL = http://www.cafepress.com
"a network of over 2 million members who have created more than 8 million designs on 70+ customizable products ranging from apparel and home and office accessories to music and data CDs and books to prints, posters and cards. Every day, roughly 14,000 new items are added, and approximately 1,000 new, independent shops join the CafePress.com network."
(comments from trendwatching.com )
- Zopa, the P2P bank
URL = http://www.zopa.com
We featured Zopa before, but apparently, it is doing well:
"UK-based Zopa, a place where creditworthy borrowers who'd like to borrow money can get together with other consumers who are happy to lend it to them. Cutting out the middleman, lenders set their own rate of return and choose which borrowers they want to lend to. Zopa manages various 'markets', matching lenders with borrowers' various risk profiles. The start-up, after four months of operations, now has more 26,000 members (source: FT). 35 per cent of members are lenders, who between them have GBP 3 million in capital waiting to be handed out. Average loans have been between GBP 2,000 and GBP 5,000, with lenders so far seeing average returns of 7.6 percent. Consumers turning into bankers." (comments from Trendwatching.com)
URL = http://www.scoopt.com
"a 'civic media press agency' helps members of the public sell photographs and videos of newsworthy events to the press. In their own words: "we bridge the gap between amateur photographer and picture desk - and by 'amateur', we mean anybody with a digital camera or a cameraphone who just happens to be in the right place at the right time. When you send Scoopt a photo, you automatically grant us an exclusive worldwide license to market that photo for a period of six months. During this six-month period, you agree not to publish the photo anywhere else. When the six months are up, the license becomes non-exclusive. Scoopt also accepts video footage for distribution. All licensing and assignment fees will be split equally between you and Scoopt." (comments from Trendwatching.com)
Collab.net helps corporations implement open source methodologies, at http://www.collab.net/
Innocentive brings together companies in need of creative scientific and technical problem-solving, and the free cooperation of scientists, engineers and creators generally, at http://www.innocentive.com/ . It had 83,000 cooperating scientists during mid-2005 and amongst its corporate users were Boeing and Procter & Gamble.
Business Week offers a tour of the ‘hotspots of collaboration’ at http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_25/b3938901.htm