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How Does A Cooperatively-Organized Business Incubator Work? | Guest Blog #3 | Josh Lucas

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By: Josh Lucas | Work Hard Pittsburgh | September 20th, 2017 | Post #2 | Post #1


“We believe that people should only be indentured to their own goals and dreams, and that a new working class has to emerge before technology bifurcates us completely into the haves and have nots. Work Hard Pittsburgh is obsessed with creating organizing structures that support that mission and provide financial security to individuals who are pursuing their goals.”

Work Hard Pittsburgh is a cooperative.

That means that the people who we serve are also the owner/operators of the business entity Work Hard PGH, LLC. Any energy expended by our members always benefits a system in which they are economically and culturally invested.

Vested members of the Work Hard PGH Cooperative find certain advantages. Here’s a few of the big ones:

Access to investment funds. This year we’re investing over $150,000 in our member-owned companies and projects. Our mission is to provide friendly capital that reduces the dependency on traditional investing systems. We believe that if as a region we’re truly interested in wealth-building, then we need to abandon funding mechanisms that favor the investor-class to the detriment of the entrepreneur. If you’re a local entrepreneur, run from the West Coast style investing, its mechanisms, and its economic darwinism. It doesn’t exist to solve problems for working-class entrepreneurs. It exists to increase the wealth of already high-net wealth individuals. Our investment structures differ in the following ways:

  • Limited capital is available as low interest risk-ready loans.
  • Payback of loans can scale with revenue.
  • We rarely do equity investing. Fundamentally, sustaining revenue for the cooperative comes from the act of doing business, not our limited equity holdings in member-owned companies.

Subsidized and Free Shared Services. The cooperative exists as a system that encourage shared capacity and expertise. Members are required by rule to engage in peer-to-peer capacity building. Experts that build websites, create software, manage social media, launch advertising campaigns, deploy wireless networks, create spectacular written, pictorial, and video content all trade their unique skills internally to bolster each other’s projects.

Access and Ownership of Commercial Real Estate. Work Hard Pittsburgh is growing fast. As such, we’ve created a new company, Cooperative Holdings, LLC that is 100% owned by the cooperative. Recently, that entity made its first commercial real estate purchase, 744 E. Warrington Ave. In the next few months we’ll be closing on an addition 7-9000 sq. ft. of newly renovated office and light industrial space right down the street. We’re already actively investigating partnerships in neighborhoods like Lawrenceville, McKees Rocks, and beyond. In the future, our real estate holdings will generate predictable income for our member-owned projects. We will also be providing subsidized housing for our most in-need entrepreneurs.

Business Incubation. It is a measurable fact that Work Hard Pittsburgh and our member-owned companies survive and continue to grow. Since 2013, we’ve been launching businesses in the Pittsburgh region, pivoting, finding customers, and building capacity. We’ve been deep in the weeds for years now, living as entrepreneurs and freelancers in our unique market. The lessons that our membership has collectively learned, the meaningful partnerships that we’ve formed, and the customer base that we continue to curate informs our practical business incubation. At Work Hard Pittsburgh, you won’t learn about magic tricks that turn you into a unicorn. You will learn how to persist and stay in business.

To that end, it’s worth stating that organizationally our membership is playing the long game. We’re not particularly interested in getting rich quick. Universally, to a person, we are interested in living vibrant lives that include service and actively trying to make our neighborhood, city, country, and planet a better place to live.

We believe that people should only be indentured to their own goals and dreams, and that a new working class has to emerge before technology bifurcates us completely into the haves and have nots. Work Hard Pittsburgh is obsessed with creating organizing structures that support that mission and provide financial security to individuals who are pursuing their goals.

If you’re interested in learning more, reach out. We’re easy to find and always eager to meet new collaborators. You can start by visiting Work Hard Pittsburgh for more information.

Thanks to our ever-supportive partner Neighborhood Allies for publishing these posts. Their efforts over the years have been essential to our growth and maturation. As a matter of fact, a Small and Simple grant funded the development of the cooperative legal framework we use today.


Previous Posts:

What is Work Hard Pittsburgh? | Guest Blog #1 

Why Work Hard Pittsburgh Exists | Guest Blog #2 

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