More good news! We had a great initial meeting with content producers. We recruited them via craigslist and we made absolutely clear that a) we are unfunded and can’t pay, and b) we can’t provide equipment.
But, after this great meeting I am left with a tough puzzle. Given that we’re unfunded and can’t yet pay content producers a cut of ads that we don’t have, how can we treat them fairly? How can we encourage the vital sense of ownership that drives projects like these to succeed?
When I started a student TV station at Indiana University Bloomington, the idea of ownership was very, very different. The IUSTV entity was never intended to be for-profit. And, the IUSTV entity was a natural extension of the university system.
IUSTV’s non-profit and university affiliation gave each and every member a strong level of inherent ownership. An important fact to note, however, is that nobody, not even me — the founder, had any real ownership of IUSTV. Instead, this ownership was perceived given the organizational entity’s association with the University.
So, how can we achieve that degree of perceived or actual ownership with VidSF? Although VidSF isn’t an incorporated entity, Steve and I have personal intellectual property ownership of the platform code and design. The team members retain IP ownership of their video content.
But, how can we mix this together to achieve the nirvana of collective perceived entity ownership achieved with IUSTV? Could we offer partial ownership of a yet-to-be-formed for-profit incorporated VidSF entity? Perhaps, but it’s difficult to offer ownership when the yet-to-be-formed entity has no agreed upon valuation. Even if we know the value of a member’s hourly contribution, how can we convert that into a percent of a company with no real valuation?
What are other ways that real and perceived member ownership can be established in an organization?
- Clear, honest and consistent communication from organization leaders. Check.
- Shared community – physical or social. We’re working on this via frequent in-person meetings. Check.
- Shared mission definition. Collaborative input on strategic direction. Check.
- Honest and straightforward revenue share agreements. We’re working on this: We don’t have any revenue to share. We don’t yet know costs for increased traffic loads, which makes it difficult to peg an exact revenue share percentage. What if we have to go with a CDN and video delivery costs jump through the roof? This is scary.