A co-op to improve the online equipment rental market

by Haimeng Gan
Master of Communication in Digital Media

“How can we make online camera rentals easier?” The solution lies in a co-operative model.

Co-operatives are autonomous associations formed, and democratically directed, by people who come together to meet common economic, social, and cultural needs. The co-op model has been adapted in many fields. In education, for example, many students have gathered and worked together to make education more affordable. Similarly in healthcare, MIDATA gathers the health-relevant data of those willing to share it. In this way, people can contribute to the development of new treatments for their health. By involving and also benefiting more people at the same time, I feel a co-op model is the right model to resolve the question of online rentals.

Introducing: Crowd. The principles of Crowd stem from worker co-operative codes, which have been proven by a group of experienced UK worker co-operators, both in theory and in practice. The seven principles are below:

• Voluntary and open membership || Open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination. You may shop, you may join, and you may leave the co-op at any time.
• Democratic member control || One Owner, one vote. Your voice will be heard.
• Member economic participation || Owners contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. The economic benefits of a cooperative operation are returned to the Owners, reinvested in the co-op, or used to provide Owner services. You control the capital.
• Autonomy and independence || Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their Owners. Together, you are autonomous.
• Education, training and information || Co-operatives provide education and training for Owners so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of co-operation. You can develop yourself into the consumer you want to be.
• Co-operation among co-ops || Co-operatives serve their Owners most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, regional, national and international structures. You are more successful when you co-operate with others who know how to co-operate.
• Concern for community || While focusing on Owner needs, co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their Owners. You can do something for the community even as you keep succeeding.

From voluntary and open membership, to concern for community, a strong communal spirit is at the core of a co-op. Based on the seven principles stated above, I prototyped Crowd. Everyone can rent on this platform, and the members of Crowd will share the profits from renting.

Megan JefferyA co-op to improve the online equipment rental market
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