As you may have noticed, we’re pretty into being the change we want to see in the world, and we strive to not only express this in our work, but also in how we organize ourselves. Given that we are in the early stages, here are some philosophical tenets that we’ll use to guide us as we go forward.
Rejecting Growth for Growth’s sake
Much of world’s ills come from an irrational emphasis on growth at all costs; whether those costs affect humans, communities, or our planet in general. This insatiable hunger to be bigger and make more money may certainly be driven by individual greed, but it’s reinforced by a system that mandates the maximization of profit.
While those of us in the startup community may want to think we’re somehow outside this construct, the reality is that as soon as a startup receives venture capital funding, it’s hooked into the same irrational growth mentality, since the startup’s investors have the legal requirement to maximize profit for their own investors. So, rather than seeking venture capital, we hope to grow in a way that allows our workers to retain ownership of the company, so that we can prioritize what is important to us rather than being forced to pursue profit at all costs.
This will be hard, to say the least: we’ll have to prioritize financial sustainability from the start and find alternate means to fund our growth, and we pledge not to take any outside investment that forces us to prioritize growth and profit above our social mission.
Worker owned cooperative Structure prioritizing social good
Not only do we hope to maintain ownership of our company, we plan to distribute that ownership in a radically equal way: Each full-time employee will own an equal share of the company.
Part of confronting greed in our society means confronting it in ourselves. As Founders, it all begins with us, so while in most startups we’d claim 80-90% of the company for ourselves, we’re distributing equity equally amongst our team and our intention is to do the same with decision making and leadership - we'll democratize it across all employees.
We’re not sure how this stuff looks yet, and we’ll be leaning heavily on folks who have done this work to guide us, but here is an example of how that might look: in the unlikely event we ever make a profit (haha that seems very far away right now), we’ll collectively decide what to do with the extra money - whether it’s paying a dividend to workers, providing more scholarship accounts for members, investing in social impact projects, or anything else. And we're doing this so that we can prioritize social good in all of our impacts on the world.
For now, this doesn’t mean much, as we don’t have a team outside our Founders and Founding Teachers, but it’s an intention we’ll keep close to heart as we grow. Being a worker-owned cooperative will allow us to prioritize what we collectively believe is important: social impact, not profit.
Transparency and Collaborative leadership
We’re not ignoring the most important person in our organization: YOU. On our end, we promise full transparency - how much money we’re making, how we’re using it, what we’re doing to make the app (and world) better, where we’re falling short, and just about anything else.
On your end, we're asking for your help - we’ll be turning to you for core questions and decisions we have to make and getting your opinion via polls, town halls, and focus groups.
We never want money to keep someone from being able to be part of Awaken community. We commit to providing scholarship accounts to whoever needs them as soon as we can. Obviously, we need to get to a place of financial sustainability first, but we’ll have a few of these available as soon as we launch.
Our mission is to use mindfulness to transform ourselves and our world, and money is only useful insofar as it helps us accomplish that mission. We hope to make our app and community as widely accessible as possible.