Why would we want to start a new business as a cooperative? To answer this, you have to start with what a cooperative is.
A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
In Texas, cooperatives are non-profit corporations organized under Title 6 Chapter 251 of the Texas Business Organizations Code. Brewing cooperatives are a relatively new type of cooperative. In fact, the world’s first brewing cooperative was started in Austin, Texas. For a detailed discussion of brewing cooperatives, checkout the Microbrewr.com brewing cooperative page.
Brewing cooperatives have several attractive qualities. Most importantly, brewing cooperatives are truly rooted in the community since they are owned and democratically governed by their members. This results in true community engagement and creates an organization that seeks to benefit the community.
Brewing cooperatives are funded by their members, resulting in lower capital investment per member, thus distributing risk. This advantage is offset by lower potential gains for a small group of investors that typifies most for-profit corporations.
As non-profits, brewing cooperatives have the goals and objectives of the membership as their primary mission rather than profit. This doesn’t mean that brewing cooperatives can’t thrive, but does require management by a representative board and approval of the member assembly to make significant business decisions affecting the cooperative.
Starting a brewpub in Navasota, Texas is generally a risky proposition because of the relative small size of the community, and other economic factors. More traditional business entities have frequently failed in this type of business. We believe that by using the cooperative business model to our advantage, we can gain community support to build capital, build community, and share the risks and rewards of the enterprise.