Considering teaming up on a start-up? Nice! To celebrate Small Business Week and Co-op Week, we relaunched our “Team up on a start-up” contest. The goal? To give away $15,000 worth of support to help lucky winners start a co-op business. Just pitch us your idea for a co-operative, and we’ll choose the best, most viable pitch to receive our full suite of services.

Interested in entering but don’t know where to start? Look no further — here’s what goes into a good pitch.

Know your stuff (or at least, some stuff) 

Before pitching an idea for a co-op, learn a few basics of what a co-op is. Here’s one definition:

A co-op is a business, owned by a group of people with a shared goal, who make decisions about the business together and share its profits.

If you’re going to pitch an idea for a co-op, make sure it’s a good business to start with three or more people. The members of this group should all want to work toward the same goal and share the work – and rewards – of running the business.

There are no co-ops of one, or even two, people – a co-op needs a group of at least three who are willing to work together. This group will be the steering committee that will do the work of getting the business going. Make sure to ask potential members if they’re willing to move the business forward with you.

Next, ask yourself if there’s a market for your business idea. Is there a demand for what it will offer? Will it solve a problem that many people have? Identifying who will want what your business offers will also help you determine who your future members might be.

Finally, think about who you’re pitching to. What will influence them to want to support your initiative? This will look different if you’re pitching the idea to potential members versus a financial institution that might give you a loan.

In the case of this contest, the audience is us! So if you’re pitching your business idea to Co-operatives First, emphasize how your idea will impact your community and/or the members it will serve.

What to include in a good pitch

This is an initial pitch, so it doesn’t need to have a lot of detail. Your idea is new, after all. Here are some key points to include to cover the basics:

  1. What would the business do?
  2. Who would it provide goods/services to?
  3. Who would get it started? (Are there at least three people?)
  4. Is there a demand for this business? How do you know?
  5. What (if any) work has already been done to move this idea forward?

Bonus point: why is the co-op model a good fit for your idea?

You don’t need to write a paragraph about each of these things – a few sentences should do the trick.

Things to keep in mind

  • Be persuasive. You believe in your business idea, so convince us why we should too!
  • Be brief. No need for long explanations or to wax poetic about why co-ops are great. Your idea is in its early stages, so we don’t expect you to have a ton of information yet — just cover the questions outlined above.
  • Be informative. Though the submission should be brief, it should articulate what the business will be and why you want to start it.

To get started, our Introduction to Co-ops course is a great free resource where you can learn more about co-ops and get some ideas. Then submit your pitch by November 16th, 2023 for a chance to get your co-op started!