Basile Samel

philosophy, writings, work

An Online Venture Studio At The Catfarm

Jul 19, 2021

Why A Venture Studio

I want the Catfarm to become the best place to develop your own sustainable lifestyle. But before we can become the best place, we need to work on a sustainable growth model by focusing on improving livability, aiming for economic prosperity, encouraging environmental responsibility in our area, and proving our ability to lead the way toward a greener society. In other words, we need cash to expand our influence.

Money is and should remain nothing but a communication tool, a way among many for people to exchange value. Failing to make money in a sustainable fashion is failing to build resilient bridges with all things constituting a society. It would trap us in a single secluded place, when our vision is to create a thriving society. Masanobu Fukuoka, farmer and author of The One-Straw Revolution, says that the ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. I believe this is what the Catfarm should be about, and we can't succeed without opening our community to the outside world.

Doing whatever we can to get money won't cut it though, because we are few and our time is finite: we must do more with less, prioritizing habits that will compound over time. Organizing events and multiplying our projects will only take us so far: after three months at the Catfarm, I came to the conclusion that we need a strong emphasis on experimenting with economic models that scale independently of the number of person-hours we put in.

We lack money, so we have to focus on income sources that don't necessitate a huge amount of capital to start while leveraging our advantages. We have incredible, hard-working, young people with a diversity of skill sets and expertise, an amazing place to live together for cheap, an inspiring brand, and a dynamic international network that's eager to collaborate with us. It's the best environment possible to create online businesses, but there is nothing in place to guide people toward this path.

How It Will Work

That's where I come in. To fill this void, I will be opening Clowdr, an online venture studio for lifestyle entrepreneurs made in Catfarm.

A venture studio is a company creating other companies. At the Catfarm, however, I want to niche down to individual companies whose goal is to revolve around the kind of lifestyle we want, also known as lifestyle entrepreneurs. Business, not as a way to make more and more profit, but to enable higher degrees of freedom that can be used to make an impact in people's lives. This way, our clowder of cats can grow bigger and stronger, hence the name of the studio.

Clowdr will provide education in the form of workshops and online resources, strategic and tactical consulting, web products, and sustainable web development services to help its members create and run a successful one-person company.

I am bullish about integrating sustainability and the maker mindset into Clowdr's DNA, so I will push for circular web development practices that can decrease the energy consumption of web applications by several orders of magnitude while keeping things about personal growth and the joys of creating things with others and solving problems with an artisan mindset.

Clowdr can make money by taking a small percentage on the generated revenues through Stripe's payment gateway, selling its own web products, or buying company shares. More volunteers becoming financially independent means less burden on the shoulders of Catfarm as a nonprofit organization, and the newly created wealth can be reinvested in the community in the form of donations, personal goods, and services. Everyone wins and flourishes, together.

Legally, Clowdr would start as a solo business, because it's the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to begin with. As soon as a sustainable business model is found, the concept will grow into a bigger structure.

What Are The Next Steps

Clowdr is an ambitious long-term project that will imply years of work.

I want to on-board the first batch of entrepreneurs by September 15. By then, I'll focus on two things: 1) implement a content strategy and 2) build an online web product factory.

We need a content strategy because connecting with Clowdr's audience—stakeholders, as well as people outside the community interested in the project—to understand its needs is the priority. Establishing trust is essential, using public accountability, build-in-public methodologies documenting the journey online, and two-way communication channels.

In parallel, I'll work on a web development system to rapid prototype web-based software products. Launching our own software tools will be part of the business model because we need to own them to measure and control our digital carbon footprint. More on that later because it will take me a whole series of articles to explain the approach and I want to keep it short.

Once I'm done with these two things, we will already have a good amount of content and tools to carry the studio's mission, and I will be in the right state of mind to start supporting people with their projects. That's when the "real" work will begin, turning pain points into marketable web products following sustainability best practices.