OSE Chapters Concept

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HintLightbulb.png Hint: This is work from mid-2020. The program is evolving rapidly to housing solutions at scale. See Seed Home 2.


OSE Chapters are formally organized entities that work closely with OSE International to deliver the OSE Vision. OSE Chapters are run by an OSE Fellows who has undergone the OSE Mentorship

The introduction below refers more to chapters - prior to the recognition that training/mentorship needs to be separated from Chapter Charter - in order to mitigate risk and uncertainty. You can see a corresponding OSE Fellow-in-Training Agreement.


We are looking for entrepreneurial makers to take an a program of collaborative literacy training to become part of the OSE movement as leaders of localized branches, the OSE Chapters. In 2020, OSE is taking on a campaign for starting chapters worldwide to further the OSE Vision, and to collaborate in completing the GVCS by 2028.

Open Source Ecology (OSE), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Missouri, USA, is generating revenue from 2 main sources: 3D printer sales, and running STEAM camps and related immersion build training events - as well as Extreme Manufacturing workshops. In 2021, we are expanding our revenue model to house construction and training. These enterprises are in their startup phase, they are also large-value items that may be replicated in their current form. Combined with nonprofit donations when incorporated as a nonprofit organization - these 3 revenue streams have been sufficient to fund OSE over the last decade as a shoe-string budget operation. OSE believes that we are well-position at this point - based on the existing 3D printer designs and production engineering, proofs of concept of the Extreme Manufacturing Workshops, and innovative collaborative design/build techniques developed over the last decade - to train others to replicate OSE operations in other locations as regional or national chapters of OSE.

There is a significant learning curve involved in starting an OSE Chapter. The OSE Mentorship is a relationship to facilitate getting through this learning curve towards successful startup with a 1 year learning period. The learning is

Subject Areas

Skill areas developed revolve around developing industrial productivity for the circular economy - in the form of open source microfactories and other productive operations related to distributed production and Distributive Enterprise. We teach the technology, collaborative development techniques, and enterprise skills for successful startup of OSE chapters in different locations.

As of 2020, we have the 3D printer, Universal Axis CNC system, tractor, Seed Eco-Home, brick press, CNC Torch Table, CNC circuit mill, ironworker machine, Power Cubes, 3D printer filament making, and Universal Rotor as candidates for enterprise startup. We envision a general technological bootstrapping that goes from 3D printers, which are used to make the CNC Torch Table, which is used to build tractors and heavy machines.

For the 3D printer, some of the main skills involve:

  1. Building the printer
  2. Understanding sourcing
  3. Understanding how to create new designs
  4. Understanding how to scale the design to any size
  5. How to market the 3D printer effectively.

For the STEAM camps, some of the main skills inolved are:

  1. Building 3D printers
  2. Teaching FreeCAD
  3. Using Part Libraries for collaborative development, and a good understanding of the OSE Collaboration Protocol.
  4. 3D printing - ability to design and print anything in different materials
  5. Microcontrollers and electronics - being able to build a microcontroller from scratch and feed it with the Arduino environment, ability to design basic circuits in KiCad, and to generate toolpath files using FreeCAD path workbench.

These are some of the technical skills required, but there is another skill set that is required - Collaborative Literacy - which allows the Chapter to be engaged more fully in a large-scale, global, collaborative, open development process. OSE has been innovating on collaborative, modular, scalable development processes, such as Extreme Manufacturing. More recently, we have begun developing a model for Extreme Enterprise. We believe that these are prerequisite to GVCS completion, as a larger collaborative process is required to attain the Distributive Enterprise results that we are seeking.

Immersion Training Program

The OSE immersion program is intended for Collaborators to start official OSE Chapters worldwide. An OSE Franchise Contract will spell out the specifics, but in a nutshell, the intent is to create collaborating Chapters so that the GVCS is completed by 2028. Some of the main ways that chapters coordinate work with OSE International are

The funding model is initial sponsorship of the training by the Collaborator, where OSE assists the Collaborator in making a pitch to local (to the chapter) enterprise interests to gain the necessary support.

The applicant is expected to be an entrepreneurial maker with a strong, open source culture that allows them to collaborate effectively with a larger global team. We are currently just starting the immersion program, and can accept up to 24 candidates in the first cohort in various developed countries around the world where the economic situation can sustain an open source hardware production and education enterprise.

Each chapter produces 3D printers (and other products as we develop them), provides immersion STEAM Camps, and collaborates with OSE on continuing product development. Each chapter sets up their own website if mutually agreed upon, and collaborates with OSE on the OSE wiki, Discourse Forum, and the Open Source Everything Store.

The collaboration focuses around open source product development - developing innovative and transformative Distributive Enterprises, towards completion of the GVCS by 2028. Each chapter is reviewed after 2 years of operation. If success is present - the chapter has a chance to renew their charter for another 2 years. Quarterly review provides feedback on operation. The basic requirement for Chapter renewal is collaboration on a common plan of action.

We emphasize here that the nature of the involvement is a long term, large scale goal of transformation, according to the OSE Mental Model and the OSE Model of Change. As such, because we are developing and testing large-scale collaboration protocols intended to transition development from proprietary to collaborative - all Chapters are required to work on this common goal. We see the potential of open development becoming the norm in hardware, but at the same time, we recognize how difficult that is. In order to develop products effectively as a large-scale collaboration - an unprecedented level of innovation in collaboration is required. We are beginning to test large-scale collaborative development of enterprise via the Extreme Enterprise method. We are solving for having enough people show up to execute a complex, iterative, modular, agile development process - with coordination that transcends Brook's Law. This is no small task - and it requires that we have enough people on board to make this feasible. This starts with coordinating development - with everyone's input - on specific projects. Going forward, it should be clear to OSE Chapters that they do not work on just any projects - but on the common, focused, prioritized, and coordinated projects set upon with OSE International. Once OSE grows to thousands of people, it may be possible for chapters to have more autonomy in selecting their projects, but until then - we are all working in a highly coordinated fashion until, first - the 50 GVCS tools are complete, and their 500 constituent modules are all open-sourced. This will allow for unleashed productivity across the globe, and is the first step in OSE's path - to be completed by 2028.

Basic Terms for Training and Operation

  1. 2 Year or 1 Year duration - 1 year full time, or 2 year part time requirement for the training phase
  2. Weekly schedule - The program is a remote mentorship - but includes participation on site at the main OSE facility in Kansas City, USA - for a 3 month, annual Summer of Extreme Design Build. The student is encouraged to participate for the entire 3 months, and is required to participate for at least one month. Bulk of the time is spent in hands-on learning, with 1 hour meeting with OSE to provide guidance. Areas covered focus on technological knowhow for building things, running workshops, and collaborating effectively. The curriculum is shown at OSE Chapter Training Calendar
  3. Tracks - All chapters engage in education and production work - but can specialize in several areas depending on the skill set of the collaborator. For each track, we can provide additional guidance.
    1. Software and IT development - platform and back end, and FreeCAD development
    2. Research and Development - focusing on new product releases, design and production optimization
    3. Education - building relationships with schools, colleges, and universities
    4. Community Economic Development - runnuing an enterprise and training other entrepreneurs in their local area
    5. Leadership Track - community management, coaching of others

The training is the first part. After successful completion of the training, and acquiring any resulting certifications from OSE - we work with the candidate-in-training on starting a chapter. The details will be negotiated, and the details depend on the interests, resources, and specific situation of the candidate. The goal is to find a common ground where the new chapter is both autonomous, and contributes directly to the OSE program towards completion of the Global Village Construction Set by 2028 - where both of these parts are required. The candidate also has the option to start an independent entity, in which case it would not be a certified OSE chapter, but rather a wholly-independent operation which uses OSE's technology - but is not part of its brand.

See more notes at OSE Chapters Negotiation.

Application, Cost, and Requirements

Candidates must be open to pursuing Distributive Enterprise - meaning publishing all results not only for how to design products - but how to run enterprises that provide mutually assured abundance.

To apply for the immersion program, candidates submit a video of interest, and do one or more interviews. The steps required for formal acceptance are:

  1. Video of interest and 1-2 interviews. 2-3 work references. Submit your video of interest to ops at opensourceecology dot org.
  2. Producing a slide deck (including a business plan), and securing both a mentor and a sponsor. If the candidate already has funding, we still suggest a slide deck so that the candidate can begin the process of thinking and planning their enterprise more formally. We understand that there is much uncertainty in this process, for which reason we encourage solid planning, so that milestones can be measured against the proposed goals. The goal of a slide deck is to begin a more rigorous process of working on the enterprise side - with the assumption that the candidate's intent is to transition to full time work based on OSE's technology and techniques - at some future point.

At least 20 hour per week availability is required to pursue the immersion training.


  • The costs are a US $10k mentorship tuition per year of the program paid to OSE. This does not include materials or travel.
  • The candidate covers materials costs for a basic production facility - or whatever hardware/materials are required for building hardware/physical infrastructures. This can be as simple as a garage workshop or one room of about 250 square feet. The materials cost for startup could be $5-10k for parts and tools, depending on specific scope of the situation. Materials for building larger machines, products, or infrastructure may be higher.

For 3D printing, materials may include a filament maker, shredder, CNC torch table, a 3D printer cluster, and additional tools.

For the tractor, materials budgets are $5-15k depending on size for a basic build, from 19 hp to 190 hp. Automation can be added at low incremental cost using Arduino-based Universal Controllers and solenoid valves.

For building the machines/infrastructures with the respective materials budget - OSE does not take this funding - as the candidate is responsible for sourcing parts on their side in order to learn the sourcing issues for their specific operation.

The tuition and materials cost does not include facility costs, which must be accounted for in the initial application. The learning program generally follows the OSE Chapter Training Calendar, but can be adapted to the needs and particular direction of the student.

The one year program is a full time option, which can be pursued with full time commitment and weekly development meetings. For the 2 year version, the meetings are scheduled every 2 weeks, and a 20 hour per week commitment is expected. The normal activity schedule is meeting with OSE, logging work on the OSE wiki, and majority of the time with hands-on learning/building. The candidate is also invited, with free tuition, to any of OSE's build and training events - though travel and other fixed costs such as materials, books, and food are not included and are the student's responsibility. The candidate is welcome to attend as many OSE events as are scheduled - in order to get a full immersion in OSE's work. However, the student will still have to follow all the formal application/registration processes for any events that are offered, just as any other regular participant would be required.

To apply

If you can commit to:

  1. Take on the program with a 40 hour, full-time commitment - or possibly a half-time commitment for a 2-year duration
  2. Cover the cost of tuition and materials as above, or find local sponsors to cover the costs
  3. Travel to OSE's USA facility for the Summer of Extreme Design Build, if this program is offered in a given year, and if you choose to participate.
  4. Working openly and collaboratively, publishing all results for the benefit of all humankind

then please start the conversation with us by submitting a Video of Interest, following the guidelines in the next section.

Video of Interest

  1. Please produce a 5 minute or shorter Video of Interest, published on a video sharing site. Start a Work Log on the OSE Wiki, post the link to your video there - and email info at opensourceecology letting us know that you have submitted your Video of Interest. The video must express why you are interested in learning OSE's techniques and technology, what are your long-term goals personally, and why you think you are a good candidate to start an operation that uses OSE technology, whether it will be an independent organization or an OSE Chapter. Please discuss the main challenges in successful completion of our program, and how you will go about addressing them - such as the learning curve, working openly, and collaboration techniques. Also specify how you plan on addressing the funding, finding mentors, and securing a working space. Also discuss any challenges that may be specific to your geographic location, and how you will address them. This intro video is intended to demonstrate your level of insight on your goals and your path to getting there. We are looking for evidence of your commitment, collaborative mindset, and openness to and capacity of learning new things.
  2. Submit the link to your work log, which includes the Video of Interest, using the OSE Mentorship Video of Interest Form
  3. We will get back to you in 48 hours, ask further clarifying questions if your Video of Interest does not address them, and set up an interview with you.
  4. The application process may last 2-12 weeks - pending all due diligence, and we can get you started on a rolling basis.
  5. An OSE Chapter in Training contract signed and tuition paid reflects formal acceptance into the program.

Enterprise and Revenue

The OSE Mentorship - and OSE Chapters - should be treated as an investment and an enterprise. We are expecting that people invest significant time and commitment so that they can create value as a result of the OSE Mentorship. With this in mind, economic feasibility can be pursued - so that any startup operation can be sustainable financially. We have reached programmatic revenue milestones that indicate to us that successful, open hardware enterprise startup is a possibility. We have observed that innovative business models combining education and pruduction can be created, such as our Extreme Enterprise model of social production, kit sales, education programs, and most recently - the Extreme Enterprise model that we are testing in 2021. Here we present some basic revenue numbers for reference of what we've observed so far regarding production costs and revenue generation in our programs/products.

Note: this is our experience from the USA, so other locations may be different.

For the 3D printer D3D Pro, material costs are currently $500-600, production cost is $750 including packing and shipping, marketing cost is negotiable, and anything above that is considered net revenue. This means that a basic business can be started by selling 10-20 machines per month, depending on sale price. D3D Universal is our lower cost printer.

For the STEAM Camps, roughly speaking - the material costs are $500, and price per seat is $250 per day. Thus, 10-20 participants per month for multiple day events suffice to make this a business. We have run events in the $1500 price range, where $500 goes to the instructor, $500 covers materials, and $500 covers OSE costs.

For producting brick presses and 3D printers, and running builds of houses - we have seen that a viable enterprise model can be developed based on Extreme Manufacturing workhops. See examples of revenue milestones at OSE Bootstrap Funding Milestones.

The current effort, launching in 2021, is the Seed Home 2 - as we take all the construction knowledge learned to date to start a scalable enterprise for delivering widespread access to affordable, ecological housing - starting in the USA and moving worldwide.

Success of the enterprise model depends on the resourcefulness and effort of the collaborator - their ability to produce kits, organize events, deliver house builds, market successfully with OSE assistance - and other elements of running a successful enterprise. OSE supports the candidate in all ways possible - as an education, training, and R&D operation. This is an entrepreneurial situation with risk, and OSE makes no guarantees about the success of the enterprise, which depends on the specifics of each situation. The guarentee that OSE makes is to avail all of its technology and experience openly to enterprise candidates - which is the core of the value of the OSE Mentorship program.

Mentorship Sponsorship

Local chamber of commerce, business, private, or other sponsorship is required. Each. As part of a Chapter's application, the chapter requires recruitment of a mentor to provide additional guidance. There are 4 parties total:

  1. OSE
  2. Collaborator
  3. Chamber of Commerce, Community Economic Development organization, corporate sponsor, benefactor.
  4. Advisor/mentor/thought partner to mastermind the operation. See OSE Chapters Community Partners.

We know that rock stars create startups. But can we replicate the same to other startups, by helping them along? Can we find people who are interested in solving pressing world issues as their job? How do we market this?

"We build local open source microfactories that change their economy to circular by producing essential goods for their community to bring wealth back to town - as a means to people leading more fulfilling lives doing by shifting to what is most meaningful for them once the threat of survival is removed. We achieve this by collaborating on industrial productivity on a small scale."

Broader Financing Terms for OSE Work

OSE's current funding strategy is bootstrapping.

A lot of times we are asked about 'raising money'. But that begs a fundamental question - can a centralized funding mechanism lead to a decentralized economy? From first principles, this seems incongruent. For this reason MJ has not been particularly excited about 'raising capital' along the standard route.

If somebody invests - a stake or part ownership is the reward. The issue with this is that this tends to concentrate wealth, as those with money get to make more money for doing no actual work in the business. This does not appear to be a good formula for general human prosperity.

But what if someone invests, but the money stays in the company's actual agents or customers, and thus contibutes positively to the historic transfer of wealth from the few to the many? Does anyone do this? Does anyone invest, not in a donation way - but in an 'investment way'. Take the following case. An investor pumps in a boatload of money and gets a share of the company on paper - would they do that if the company never sells? Is there a way to structure this relationship in a way where the investor can sell his share to another investor, and make money, but never take money out of the actual operation so all the wealth stays with the agents and customers? This is still an active question - there may be an innovative way to do this.

That leads to grants or donations. But so far, we have not succeeded in attracting any major investment as such. The best we did was $720k from Shuttleworth Foundation in 2012.

We are pursuing concepts such as crowd funding ($200k revenue from 2 campaigns), Incentive Challenges, and now Extreme Enterprise as well as a Crowd Supply campaign for an advanced 3D printer.

As we build extreme development techniques and collaborations, we may be in a good position for some $1-2M grants or investments to deploy the Open Source Microfactory. However, developing OSE Chapters, product sales, and STEAM Camps seems like a great way to scale the organization. In terms of readiness for market, the product sales are first. The current 3D printer productization, OSE Chapter development, and related STEAM Camps development remain as high priorities.