Why Limeleaf Operates as a Co-Op

Cooperatives have gotten a bad rap over the years. They’ve been portrayed as impractical, plagued by decision paralysis, and insufferably hippy-dippy.

However, we believe the co-op model offers unique advantages for small tech companies (note the word small) trying to build an equitable, purpose-driven culture. In small companies, collective ownership can breed accountability, foster innovation, and fuel a genuine excitement to succeed. It also improves the chances that co-op Members, not just founders and outside investors, benefit from that success.

So, what do we mean when we say, “Limeleaf operates as a co-op”?

We are a small, for-profit **company where decisions are made democratically, and profits are shared fairly among our Members, commensurate with the amount of labor they contribute. Everyone feels invested in the company’s success—and will share the pain of our (hopefully rare) failures.

We are idealistic but not naive. We realize that conflict and power dynamics are part of human nature. However, power imbalances can be alleviated through strong institutions. In our case, the mechanism for establishing those institutions is our Operating Agreement (OA).

We’re still writing our OA. As we do, we're imagining plenty of “what if” scenarios to make sure when conflicts arise, they are resolved through the institutions and processes embodied in the OA, not between individuals.

Prior to joining Limeleaf, all new Members must accept and sign the OA. If you’re curious, it is available online. We welcome constructive comments.

It's also a matter of goals. We feel like the co-op model aligns well with our long-term goals for the company. We agree with and share Steph Ango's goals for his company:

  1. We want to stay small, we don’t need to hire lots of people
  2. We follow strict principles that we do not want to compromise
  3. Our users are happy to support us, we don’t need VC money

Growing into this model won’t be easy, but we are excited about the challenge. We hope to show how truly transformative companies don’t aim to control workers, they strive to empower them.