Have you ever met a zebra?
Chances are, you have. Determined, mutualistic, and led by diverse teams, zebra organizations are hard to pin down in a single pithy definition. As in the original manifestos that sparked this movement, Sex and Startups, and Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break, the nature of a zebra company is most easily understood as the antithesis of the mythical unicorn startup. This chart created by the Zebra founders (and drawing on the work of many others) compares the two well:
Our Socialroots team knew we were zebras before we even met, separately reading and sharing these definitive pieces when they were published. As the movement coalesced, we heard the rumble of the herd. (We also love that the collective noun for a herd of zebras is a 'dazzle'. Together, we're a dazzle. Fantastic!)
When starting our own cooperative, we also knew we wanted no 'exit', that we were approaching tech from a different angle. Calling ourselves a 'zebra' gave us an easy way to say a lot. We interviewed one of the Zebra founders, Mara Zepeda, during our initial user research, wanting to hear what type of support is needed by networks with explicitly collaborative perspectives, and then build Socialroots with those needs in mind.
This dazzling movement forms a cooperative
This past October, Socialroots co-founder Christina Bowen participated in a panel with Zebra's new Director of Co-Op Membership, Kate "Sassy" Sasson, and Start dot Coop founder, Greg Brodsky. In our discussion, we learned that the lovely Zebra idea, movement, and brand now had an incorporated cooperative, open for membership. Well, let's just say that was an easy decision.
Socialroots is thrilled to announce that we have officially joined the dazzle, and are now members of the new Zebras Unite Cooperative. In a landscape of win-lose mindsets, cooperation among cooperatives is one of the hardest cooperative principles to practice meaningfully. Zebras Unite is creating and holding space to make that easier. By focusing on support not only for co-ops, but for all companies drawn to the Zebra mindset, they prioritize cooperative and mutualistic behavior over any particular corporate structure. If you think, act, and strive like a zebra, you are welcome.
Early cooperation begins
As we get to know the Zebras cooperative member community, we've noticed a few things worthy of a shout out, not listed in their member benefits.
First, we’ve come to appreciate the succinct resources the cooperative provides. There's not an overload of content to filter through, but there is sufficient member support, making it easy to find what you need, along with what you never expected, or knew you needed.
We also have found overlaps with deeply collaborative Zebras, (check out Serve, for example), and are grateful to now have such a vibrant community of others aligned with our own hopes and struggles.
Additionally, the majority of the folks there show a strong spirit of generosity and cooperation. That might be expected in a cooperative, but we don't take it for granted.
Are you ready to change startup culture and run with the dazzle? Come join us.
Wicked Co-op, LCA, the worker cooperative in which we are building the Socialroots platform, has a multi-stakeholder co-op ownership model with multiple member categories. We are currently shaping the responsibilities and benefits for those in our community. If you are interested in joining Socialroots as a cooperative member, please let us know here.
Socialroots will soon offer access to our early beta platform to test our ability to support effective cross-group connection and coordination. If you are a Zebra, or Zebra-aligned organization, and would like early access to Socialroots, please sign up here.