Thu Apr 14, 2016
To summarize OSE has gotten on the world stage with my TED Talk. Our social capital is strong and growing. Our FB Page reflects our engagements and progress. We develop open source hardware technology, with the last phase of our development work being the creation of open source enterprises - or Distributive Enterprise (DE). The challenge is that the organization's capacity has not scaled due to retention issues, as we innovate on too many areas at once - and haven't yet found a stable revenue model. First, our goals are very ambitious - see the OSE Roadmap for a general flavor. Part of exploring viral scalability is the recruiting model. I'd like to see OSE grow by people dogfooding the enterprises that we develop - that is - running them 50% of the time and the other 50% is in further R&D of new enterprises. That means we bootstrap and are independent of external funding, which is a criterion for viral scalability in an authentic way, focusing on ethical enterprise at the core. We have seen the success of open source software, Red Hat now being a $4B company. We are shooting for the same with open hardware, for the next $1T economy.
There are several products that we are developing this year to take to Distributive Enterprise status: 3D printer, Compressed Earth Block (CEB) press, and Aquaponic Greenhouse. These are all produced in our Extreme Manufacturing model of swarm-based builds of one day or a weekend.
Currently OSE has no employees, just executives and independent contractors on top of the volunteer community. We have one Distributive Enterprise Fellow developing agricultural operations, plus a close collaborator (also my wife) on an open source housing initiative - three of us at our 30 acre R&D site. Others are remote collaborators. Our current revenue model is 25% donations and 75% operations (running the Extreme Manufacturing workshops), with a tiny financial capital budget of $100k. My ideal picture is bringing this number up to 30 people on site, filling all the functions of a small civilization - organized around the model of an education campus or University. That means both land stewardship and regenerative technology are parts of the package. I would like to scale this effort to about 1000 of these land based entities, each at about a 1000 acre scale - or one center of light for every 7M population center. The Campus model allows the combination of real estate development, R&D, production, and education in one. Further, I think a suitable branding for the education program should revolve around Movement Entrepreneurship.
The ideal picture would be a small executive team and an army of independent contractors as staff. Both staff and executives would engage in open source product development - where each person spends 50% of their time running existing DEs, and spends the other 50% on further R&D - specifically the goal being viral growth potential as an exponential organization. The goal of organizing as independent contractors is to address both the dependency issues of standard employment contracts, as well as to populate the world with the entrepreneurs that we put out into the world.
As you see there are many moving pieces - to be reduced to a sound scaling strategy - while adhering to our values as embodied in Distributive Enterprise - while building the capacity and operations to make this happen. Our strong point is social capital - which allows us to do radical boundary crossing and collection of free SME contributions towards integrated product designs. Our weakness is lack of a team, and more fundamentally, lack of stable operations since we are innovating on the open source product development methodology.