Dream Factory Cooperative
Community-owned for-profit cooperatives for new business and new jobs
I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
I am over 18 years of age
My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States
Where are you making a difference?
Focus Areas (required)
Business & Social Enterprise
Development & Prosperity
Human Rights & Equality
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)
Website or social media URL(s) (optional)
1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.
The three founders had all been working on projects to help underserved communities. After encouragement from local government, specifically to provide preferential access to government contracts, they incorporated as a for-profit cooperative to provide a 'corporate umbrella' for members to realize their dreams.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Fundamentally, its the 1% problem.
With 1% controlling 99% of the capital, how can underserved communities control their own destiny?
We need to disrupt the corporation, so that's what we're doing.
Modern worker-owned cooperatives enable the 99% to create their own businesses and own their own cash flow in a way that is economically more powerful than individuals and stand-alone small businesses.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We have an economics white paper with a lot of detail, but here are the highlights:
Key issue: How can workers and capitalists better engage in a win-win to both improve productivity and militate against an over-concentration of capital?
Our vision is higher economic efficiency through modern, democratized, corporations. Specifically, the Dream Factory is based on for-profit worker cooperatives. Our vision is to develop and evolve a pragmatic , repeatable and scalable framework based on:
a) Democratic member ownership (one voting share per member)
b) Measuring member contributions on a 'market-rate' basis (not just 'time banking')
c) Members receiving equal benefits including ongoing counseling and training
d) A cooperative umbrella for equalized tax treatment (e.g. no sales tax on intra-cooperative exchanges)
e) Working capital financed through non-voting preference shares
f) Certified for preferential access to local government contracts (CBE) - not possible for individuals to access these contracts
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.
Mr. F's dream was his own line of clothing designs, with a distinctive look and inspired to surprise and amuse. He had bought the manufacturing equipment but there are so many other daunting and expensive steps to creating a business including business registration, licensing and legal fees.
By joining the Dream Factory as a Member for the cost of 1$, he immediately had the ability to do business under our 'umbrella' of a registered, licensed and insured District of Columbia corporation with its Certified Business Enterprise status.
In addition, Mr. F was assigned a mentor to help him figure out his new businesses profit projections based on his sales plan and typical costs for marketing and operations. This way he could focus on product development at the right price point. With established metrics, Dream Factory can take him to the next level.
5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?
We are already signing up members from underserved populations in parts of DC who have been economically and socially discriminated against for many generations.
Dream Factory Cooperative does not aim to be a financial services provider but ensuring access to 'safe' banking and other financial services is an integral part of its business plan for community success.
We envision a relationship with a credit union or cooperative bank that can be trusted by the Dream Factory members.
5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:
age - youth
age - elder
6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?
The Dream Factory is For Profit. Many other initiatives are non-profits that have sustainability issues and do not actually solve the underlying 1% problem.
The profits generated by the members are owned by the members (in proportion to their contributions). We are significantly different than other cooperatives because of:
a) Our democratic ownership structure combined with
b) member dividends based on market-rate contributions and
c) the scalability afforded by use of smart contracts and engagement through mobile technology
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Today, we have more demand than we can handle. Our outreach shows a very positive response to the way that we are addressing real problems and removing obstacles to people achieving their dreams.
One of our projects is helping a member build a digital competitions business with a 50% gross margin over the costs. This is planned to launch in June after a three month development project.
Another initiative is providing access to the $5.4 billion of contracting work available from the District of Columbia. The Dream Factory has achieved CBE (Certified Business Enterprise) status with DC and is bidding both on projects and specific positions (e.g. Help Desk staff).
8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?
1. Optimize the first Dream Factory on-boarding and operations including systems
2. Create a repeatable 'franchise' package with legal docs, operations guides and systems
3. Grow the first Dream Factory DC to 1,000+ members
4. Identify next markets and recruit founders
8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?
Franchising, Licensing, Accreditation
Large Scale Partnerships
9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?
Members' economic activity generates revenue to cover The Dream Factory's overheads.
As the Cooperative business model matures and its job creation effectiveness is proven additional capital is available in the form of investment funds and debt to fuel growth.
A member may leave the cooperative at any time (their voting share is returned) so a key goal is an active membership. We believe sustainability is possible with 200 members and that is our initial growth goal.
10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
The three founders serve as the Dream Factory's current Board of Directors and also as its Executive Committee comprising CEO, President and CIO.
As the organization grows:
a) We will add a Membership Manager and a 'Common Services' team. The latter will provide support to each member through accounting, marketing and other services
b) The founders will step away from their dual role in the Board of Directors + Executive
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)
White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French)
Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)
Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)
Communities of color
How did you hear about this challenge?