Interview with the head of an IT cooperative

In addition to the usual forms of organizing workers (self-employment, individual entrepreneurs, LLCs, joint-stock companies, etc.), there is also such an exotic form as a production cooperative.

Production cooperative (artel) – a commercial organization created by a voluntary association of citizens on the basis of membership for joint production and other economic activities based on their personal labor and other participation and the association of property shares by its members (participants). The charter of a production cooperative may also provide for the participation of legal entities in its activities (material from Wikipedia).

We managed to interview the head of such a cooperative from Yekaterinburg, which brought together more than 25 IT specialists.


P.: IT union.

R.: Roman, head of an IT cooperative, Yekaterinburg.

P.: Hello! Tell me something about yourself.

R.: Hello. My name is Roman. I have been developing software for over 10 years. Recently, as a leading developer, he led large projects in the field of process control systems. However, in my work, I encountered an interesting phenomenon. When a developer grows to a certain level, the dependence of his income on the skill level disappears. Namely: no matter how difficult the work you do, how much you know and can do, and how much money you bring to the owner of your enterprise, your salary will not be increased. That is, it doesn’t matter if your work brought the owner of your office a million or a hundred million: you will receive your salary, conditional 100 thousand. And if this salary corresponds to the level of the salary of a specialist in the labor market, then you will not get more. From this, the desire to develop disappears. Employees just go to work and try in every possible way to excuse themselves from doing something.

P.: And you came up with the idea of ​​a cooperative?

R.: Yes. True, to begin with, I had to issue an IP.

P.: In general, does Russian legislation provide for such a form of management as a “cooperative”?

R.: Yes, there is such a thing as a “production cooperative”. True, no one really knows what it is and how it works. In general, this form in the legislation is worked out poorly. In fact, even taxes and contributions are not provided for members of the cooperative, except for personal income tax. Of course, the tax authorities are trying to perceive the receipts to the accounts of the members of the cooperative as wages, but you can sort of try to challenge this.

P.: Are you already operating as a cooperative?

R.: No, we’re in the legal process right now. This is a rather complicated process. Everywhere is full of guides on how to register an individual entrepreneur or LLC, but there is very little information specifically on cooperatives. Now we have developed a charter, some model contracts, and held two meetings of cooperative members. There are many complexities. For example, the method of calculating payment for work performed. You need to derive a certain unit, assign a certain monetary value to it, and calculate the fee as the product of the accumulated units by the cost of the unit. However, it is difficult to pull this off with an IT professional. Paying for lines of code is stupid and weird. Paying for hours worked is the same.

P.: And how did they get out?

R.: So far, they have come to pay according to standard hours. We evaluate the work in standard hours and pay for the actual work performed at the rate per standard hour.

P.: Understand. But then what is the difference between a member of a cooperative and an employee of a conditional LLC who is sitting on a deal?

R.: In general, the difference is quite significant. The cooperative is based on the ideas of fairness, transparency and openness. We don’t have an owner who takes the profit for himself. Therefore, we can distribute profits among employees. From any of our sales, we distribute 40% among the members of the cooperative. That is, we developed a certain product, sold it, paid the developers. And we can start developing another product. However, when the already finished product is sold again, the members of the cooperative will receive their share of the profits from the sale. And this, as we expect, will be good. Also, members of the cooperative, unlike employees of individual entrepreneurs or LLCs, always have access to information about the movement of funds on the current account: how much they received, what they spent on. And, of course, the methodology for calculating wages is completely transparent. The data on which the calculation was carried out is open. Everyone can go and check what, how and why he was charged.

P.: And how are those same 40% of profits divided? Will you get more than the conditional “junior developer”?

R.: Like salary, these dividends are divided in proportion to the contribution to the project. We take data for the entire development time, calculate the percentage of participation of each of the members of the cooperative and pay in proportion to this percentage.

P.: What about the other 60%? What is their fate?

R.: Since the main work in repeat sales is sales, 20% goes to those who promote the product, 10% to maintainers and 30% goes to the cooperative fund.

P.: OK. What is your geography? Do you all live in the same place?

R.: From Yekaterinburg to Novosibirsk, but in the future we can recruit people from anywhere, I hope.

P.: OK. What are you doing? What area of ​​IT do you work in?

R.: APCS. Now there is a big project to manage vertical farms. This is a room completely cut off from the outside world, with a controlled climate, substrate, lighting, food. In general, the entire environment surrounding the plants on such a farm is completely controlled. There are a lot of tasks here: managing the nutrition of plants, monitoring their condition, monitoring and managing the composition of the air in the room. Now, for example, we are developing a simple robot that will drive along a given trajectory and carry a camera looking at plants. And the neural network, based on data from the camera, will determine the state of plants and send data to monitoring. To know if the bush is sick, what size it is, how the crop is doing. Well, in general, there is a lot of interesting things in this area. Such a farm can be built anywhere, even on the moon. Because it is, by its very nature, completely autonomous. And thanks to this, it is possible to obtain a crop per hectare that is up to 300 times higher than classical agricultural technologies. Incorrect configuration of the control software can completely ruin everything, so a lot depends on how the control is configured.

P.: And how is the food obtained in terms of organoleptic qualities?

R.: Taste – delicious. And in terms of environmental friendliness – no pesticides, herbicides and other “cides”. The plant life environment is sterile, which means that nothing needs to be poisoned.

P.: Are there any other projects?

R.: There is a project to control drones, but I can’t tell you anything about it, sorry.

P.: Understand. In general, you are engaged in the mainstream right now. Neural networks, robots, that’s all.

R.: Yes, and this is also a plus from cooperative work. We can choose what interests us. One developer cannot break into these areas, because there will not be enough material resources or time. And in a large company, an employee does not have sufficient motivation to learn new things. And we also have motivation, because the more and cooler we do, the more we get, and there are resources, because there are enough of us, and we can allocate resources for the material component: cameras, hardware, computing power.

P.: Are you recruiting people?

R.: Yes, a year ago there were 15 of us, now there are 25. We plan to grow further. You can send your resume to gooood85@yandex.ru. Be sure to talk to those who are interested.

P.: How do customers relate to such an exotic form of management?

R.: Now we have not yet officially formalized the cooperative and we conclude contracts as individual entrepreneurs. But in theory they won’t care. TIN, bank account, everything. What’s the difference, the main thing is that the work is done.

P.: Are there any problems with the recruitment of people?

R.: No, on our part, as I already said, a fairly high motivation is offered, and we compare favorably with the same piecework in terms of payment, and from work in an ordinary office – in transparency, camaraderie, interesting work, and again in terms of payment. We do not have someone who takes the profit, and therefore people get more.

P.: Maybe you want to talk about something yourself?

R.: A third of our team lives in the Bolshaya Medveditsa family settlement, and our cooperative path began from this part of the team. In addition, BM is a cooperative in essence: we are building a central place for festivals and leisure activities together, we are cleaning the roads inside the settlement together, this year we are launching an elementary school (with the active support of our cooperative). In general, BM makes it possible to build a cooperative not just between people, but also territorially, on their own land! And then it looks even more tangible, your neighbors work with you in the same team, your children go to your own school, new participants are drawn into this movement, and everything flourishes. And the place we have here is so wonderful, so much space, and it’s just waiting for someone to organize something here.

P.: OK thanks. It was interesting! We will follow your progress!

R.: And we are behind yours!


Trade Union of IT Workers (request to participate in the work):

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