Great idea for a new thread on this, Chris Croome. I took it upon myself to start one
Right off the bat, I should say that I know veeeeery little about IT in general (which is, of course, handy when starting a tech coop), and next to nothing about hosting/servers. But I do know that I need this service for my own platform, and I have some suggestions as to how to structure a possible effort to get something like this going on a larger scale.
These ideas may very well have been tried before, but there’s no harm in giving it another shot. I hadn’t even heard of cooperatives until about five years ago, and am now doing my best to advocate for them.
Capital is tricky, and seemingly the biggest road-block to getting a lot of coop projects off the ground. But we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the public, so here’s my suggestion:
An initial crowdfunding campaign just to get it off the ground, combined with some form of monthly subscription/donation model for the public to keep pitching in just because it’s a good cause + charging clients for the actual service itself (obviously). A fair amount of effort should be put into framing this campaign, and I would suggest at least running it by some friendly graphic designers/copywriters just to get the right aesthetic and tone.
The crowdfunding campaign would create an initial (free) capital injection to start making the expansion. A small part of those funds should also be earmarked for an outreach/marketing campaign to start generating subscriptions and marketing these services to companies. I would suggest targeting:
• Companies that may be interested in a bit of green washing (hopefully not really evil companies, but you’ve got to start somewhere)
• Major environmental (and other) nonprofits that want to practice what they preach by using eco-friendly servers
• Community banks/credit unions
• Other major NGOs
• Any other progressive organization/company you can think of
The pitch should be easy enough – environmentally friendly, community based services that meet their high-traffic needs, while promoting sustainable growth.
All along the way, reach out to as many coop forums as possible and let them know what’s in the works – nothing breeds popularity like popularity. Also try public IT figures who have a social media presence and who may want to lend a helping hand.
As soon as you start to get a little groundswell going, start reaching out to media/journalists who have a record of writing about virtually anything related to labor/“do-gooder” tech/the environment/community initiatives, etc. and let them know that AWS and Google are being challenged. A bit of David and Goliath will help them frame the story, but most importantly, this will get the word out about cooperatives and the myriad reasons that they are more sustainable.
This could and should be replicated in any number of countries/regions, and even coordinated among them to help one another grow. I’m Swedish btw, but I’m starting my coop in the US.
Just some thoughts to get the ball rolling.