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Covivi: A Member-Owned Service Booking Community

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COVIVI is a member-owned web-based, scalable, mobile platform for local and community based individual workers, businesses, and their clients and customers who are committed to a fair, local economy. Covivi does the work to facilitate inquiries, bookings, and payment. Users are verified and peer reviewed.  

It facilitates marketing, sales, payment, customer service ratings, and performance verification. COVIVI is designed to be “hyperlocal everywhere”, meaning the platform connects participating local businesses and customers to any other member in their locale, and is designed to do this in communities across the region and the nation.  

It helps the worker to confidently juggle their demanding occupations, and is a reliable platform for customers to get the services they need.  

THERE’S A PROBLEM ...

Uber, Task Rabbit, and other on-demand market platforms are creating billions of dollars in wealth, but the agents of that enormous accumulation –  the drivers and workers – barely profit, and are poorly compensated for their investments in transportation, tools, or facilities.
 

OUR SOLUTION is COVIVI: A Member-Owned Platform for Products and Services   COVIVI is a member-owned platform for independent workers, businesses, and their customers. It is an online and mobile application that connects product or service providers with customers who don’t know where they are, can’t find them, or are too far apart for on-the-ground shopping methods to be feasible.  There is a need for a tool that can help match resources and needs.  When customers and service or product suppliers know each other, and see their equity share accumulating, this maintains their commitment to the member-owned?. It collects payments between them and verifies performance. These are all functions in the conventional platforms, and can easily be applied to COVIVI.

It facilitates marketing, customer engagement, sales, bookings and payment, and verification and assessment of workers, customers, and suppliers. The difference is that members, workers and customers, get a share of profits. Please see the scenario below for our vision of COVIVI operations.

IMPACT:
* By virtue of member ownership, COVIVI creates wealth for members. The more business is transacted, the more member equity is produced.
* COVIVI provides a venue for hard-to-find workers, businesses, and cooperatives to gain visibility in the marketplace. These are typically businesses and people with little resources to spare for marketing efforts. * It gives customers a source of community based workers, businesses, and cooperatives
* It also makes the local economy stronger for everyone, and more resilient overall.  

WHO DOES COVIVI WORK FOR?   Our members are workers who have freelance businesses, many of whom experience difficulty making a living wage, business owners who are having trouble getting financing, displaced workers, minority business and trades people, people with good ideas ready to go into business but want to have social impact, people who are in industries typically with unpredictable working conditions or people interested in creating shared value in their community. In the Pittsburgh area, Uber drivers have complained to us of inadequate compensation, and expressed interest in a cooperative sharing platform like COVIVI. Workers in businesses such as moving, housecleaning, security, landscaping, food production and service, health and household products can therefore more easily benefit from COVIVI.

FINANCIAL MODEL:   Customer Member Equity is generated with every transaction through a customer service fee added to each transaction, which the customer pays. The level of this is to be adjusted during analysis of ongoing operations. This functions much like the member dividend at the local food co-op market, which is either paid or given as a special discount.  

Operations are sustained by another small fee added to transactions to cover the platform, insurance, and third-party worker verification fees. 
  Customers are already paying for fees such as this in the venture-funded platforms. They are not however paying suppliers/workers equitably.   COVIVI will build its membership locally, then regionally, then nationally, branching out regionally and nationally as it grows locally. As members, who can be both customers and suppliers of goods and/or services, book more transactions, the fees added to customers and deducted from suppliers is the revenue for COVIVI.

On-demand platform Air BnB charges 3% to hosts and from 6-12% to guests depending on the size of the booking. This indicates a range of what people will be willing to pay. Task Rabbit pays 70% to “Taskers” and keeps 30% of the rate for a given task for the corporation. In addition to that, Task Rabbit charges customers a 7.5% “Trust and Safety” fee, which pays for insurance, customer service, and “tasker” vetting, to the customer who books to have a task done.

COVIVI uses a similar fee structure, but rather than investor ROI, the community and members are the investors. Membership equity is determined by the periodic dollar value of their participation as a customer or a business member. Therefore, member equity can be generated either buying or selling on COVIVI. As we experience our first period of business activity, details such as frequency of dividend payments, use of dividends for member discounts, and whether or not there should be a cap on membership enrollment at certain growth stages, will be worked out.

BUSINESS SCENARIO: Three LPN’s Jane, Ken, and Nora, and two landscaping workers, Ben and Lara, had their hours cut. They were able to log into their accounts at COVIVI. As worker members they had the option to pay a 7.5% deduction of the fees they earned – or a 7.5% added fee if they were customers in a transaction – to pay toward their member share of $1000. Otherwise they could pay that up front and then pay a 2.5% deduction – or pay an added 2.5% in a customer transaction – from each sale or engagement they made. This fee is meant to support COVIVI operations. Profits are then divided among members according to the proportion of their own dollar volume of revenue generated compared to COVIVI’s total volume.

The LPN’s each connected with people who needed their nursing services, and we’ll recount Jane’s story.

Jane’s rates were on her profile page, and she could see that the Kohler family needed a nurse for three weeks while an elder in the family recovered from medical treatment. The Kohlers were impressed by Jane’s reviews when they saw her profile and decided to engage her. First they asked if she could work weekends; that was not mentioned on her profile. She replied that she could, and her profile noted an additional 25% for weekend services, to which the Kohlers agreed when booking Jane.

Once booking was completed, the Kohlers could get Jane’s contact information and she could see the Kohler’s address, so she knew where she was going. As Jane worked, her time was logged in a system built into COVIVI that is verified by both parties. Payment was issued from the Kohler’s account (credit card or banking arrangement), with service fees added to the Kohler’s charges and a service fee deducted from Jane’s payment. The beauty of it all is that they would see some of that again in the form of their member share growth!

Jane and the Kohlers reviewed each other’s performance as customer and worker soon afterwards.

PRODUCT/SERVICE AND CUSTOMERS: Our product and service is the COVIVI platform to serve as a 24/7 continuous and mobile resource for members – who can at times be customers, and at others, workers. 

COMPETITION: Competitors are the monster platforms that extract wealth from their customer and worker base. They have been largely funded by venture capitalists who demand a high yield.  This prevents the agents of those platforms’ profitability from earning a decent wage to live on.  We are committed to allocating a share of revenue continually to worker members and customer members alike to provide a sharing and supportive mutually beneficial business environment.

TEAM: Ron Gaydos        Ron@PittsburghChamber.coop                Project Coordinator Manager of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Cooperatives  

Ron Gaydos saw the practical needs for on-demand commercial platforms such as AirBnb and Uber. He also participated in recruitment for the Lyft ride service platform as it entered the Pittsburgh market to get a sense of its operations and compensation system. Since then he has also investigated the experience of Task Rabbit and Uber service platforms, as well as the Amazon commercial sales and Mechanical Turk platforms. These platforms do not adequately compensate the people who get the work done that their customers pay for. For us, there has to be more. As more basic entry-level  occupations become aggregated, subcontracted, and outsourced, inequality is increased, public resources are further burdened, and greater numbers of workers get farther behind in their material and personal progress. The problems and impacts are creating more difficulties for sustaining community wealth.    

Jeff Jaeger       Jeff@PittsburghChamber.coop               Sales and Marketing
 
Jeff is a sustainable business leader and is Co-Founder of Steel City Soils worker cooperative, designed to collect food scraps from the East End Food Coop and make them into high quality compost. The organizational process is in its early stages, and Jeff is helping to lead the development of the cooperative business model in Steel City Soils. Jeff is also designing and producing his own line of hand-made gardening tools.  

Eva Hui                 eva@PittsburghChamber.coop                Platform development
 
Eva has been a life-long learner and educator across cultures.  She was educated in Hong Kong where she grew up, became a teacher and received her graduate degree in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh.  As Chair of the Computer Department at an area independent school, she developed programs and curricula for integrating computer programming and web design into traditional courses throughout the school.
Eva has been active in regional intercultural programs aimed at reducing prejudice and increasing understanding and inclusion among people and cultures. Eva and Ron will do the initial portal development.  


Submitted

Nov 30 2016

Organization Organization Type

Unincorporated

Challenge

Technology

Product Name

Covivi

Product Stage

Concept

Team
  • Ron Gaydos
  • Eva Hui
  • Jeff Jaeger

Contact this team about Funding, Collaboration or other methods of support. Contact Team


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