Selling consultancy services to food entreprises to help them set up their hub

Continuing the discussion from Open value networks & business models:

I alked recently with someone who was interesting in starting a local instance of OFN in Italy, but he was looking for his personal business model to enable him to do that while earning a living. And we came up with this model, which is not really innovative, but I wanted to open a discussion to see how this could be applicable.

Starting a hub vs selling marketing services to hub / a startup support service
Food entreprises can of course start using OFN as a marketplace to manage their operation, but they still need to work on their own marketing strategy, build their own website, and of course organize all the operations for their hub to work. Maybe some producers, or group of producers, will be happy to do it themselves, but probably lots of them, who consider distribution is not their job, won’t.
Entrepreneurs can either create a hub and supply from all those amazing local producers and deliver to local consumers, but entrepreneurs could also work as service providers to support food entreprises in the creation of their hub in all its dimensions: operations’ structuration, support it in its marketing strategy, build its website including the web-shop based on OFN, etc.

If the food entreprise can’t afford it, those services could be invoiced through for example a x% margin taken on the sales on top of the price set up by the food entreprise, until the invoice is paid back, and then the entreprise can work independantly.

Some people may want to create hubs, but some other may want to provide services to food entreprises to help them create their own hubs. That could be a personal business model, a way to earn a living for some people who get involved as volunteers for OFN. Should a % of the earning be given back to OFN in that case? Should it be on a volunteer contribution base, because each situation is different?

If I take the exampe of Wordpress, lots of developers sells wordpress sites, and they don’t have to pay for it. Some of them give money to wordpress as volunteer contributions because they think it’s fair as they use it to earn money. But a big contributor of Wordpress maybe won’t give money as he already give time and contribute to it in another way…

So following the short discussion we had on the subject in our last community hangout, I wanted to open a discussion on that subject and see what has already been experienced on that topic (@kirsten I think you mentionned you had done consultancy services for some hubs and then given back a contribution to OFN. Can you tell us more about that?)

Yeah we’ve been tying this idea into our business model in the UK. @NickWeir has quite a bit of experience helping groups set up local food projects and I would like to further my experience in this.

I think case studies of different users and their models is a good starting point as a free service. Perhaps instances can ask users to complete a questionnaire (that automatically renders as a web page) as a requirement of using the service? No work, max results :wink:

For a paid service I lean toward the idea of facilitated sessions in which experienced local food activists / facilitators meet with groups and help them to flesh out their ideas, motivations, inspirations into a fully fledged business model. I lean toward this as a) it helps strong groups to form with many people feeling ownership over the ideas and b) it is a creative process from which new innovations can arise.

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Here is very good reflexion about the subject, part of a more globale reflexion on the governance of the commons, from a conversation I had with Simon Sarazin, in France, who has worked a lot on the topic:
The conclusion is: the community shouldn’t itself propose commercial services, but encourage commercial actors to use the commons and contribute to it, and make transparent the ones who contribute to the commons. Intersting.