Where things were:
In the summer of 2019 Stephen and co-founder Nick Ellis dreamed up the idea of Turning Basin Labs – a worker-owned COOP to help contractors find work, but with benefits, training and ownership. A first of its kind they secured startup support from The Irvine Foundation to get going.
What was needed:
Stephen stepped up to be the Founding Managing Director and went about setting up processes, finding workers. and clients. The initial cash injection was used to build a small team and explore the market. Sadly, by March 2020 the COVID 19 pandemic had killed their initial contracts and clients, and the whole team was let go by June 2020.
Stephen in action:
Between June 2020 and May 2022 rather than close TBL down, Stephen dug in and used personal resilience, and colleagues and stakeholders around him to sustain the business – TBL also participated on the Start.COOP accelerator to sharpen its business focus. After supporting PPE production efforts in Oakland, and innovating a model of worker research – Stephen struck strategic partnerships with JVS, JFF, New World Foundation and others to build out a book of work. He also built a team, strategy and business model – while contributing to market development and policy change in California.
What happened next:
Today TBL is on the road to sustainability. Stephen led the raising of $1.1M to help grow, a mix of grant and investment, and mentored his successor. TBL remains in strategic partnerships with JFF, JVS, New World Foundation and Irvine Foundation. Further, TBL is part of an emerging crop of organisations driving a newly revived agenda on COOPs across the USA. Stephen remains a strategic advisor to TBL and now sits on the Board of Start.COOP.