It came to me in a dream. Might have been due to all the chocolate I had just before going to bed? The Outline, followed by The Story:

The Outline.

  • A meme of a co-op dedicated to home improvement.
  • Transparency a key philosophy.
  • The name: Profound.
  • Please take the meme and run with it yourself, too.

The Story.

(Since it was a dream, it will probably be hard for me to get into words a precise and accurate sense of it all; it has probably faded and mutated in my own memory already -- only a couple of hours later. The feeling was of insights that just clicked, that just worked, that just felt so right - one after another. I couldn't stop coming up with another good idea, another good facet of or angle on it all. I'm trying to note it down in the order it came to me, although the timeline is hazy to me after the first few thoughts: memory is fickle.)

The dream I had was about somehow becoming the owner of two relatively small-time British companies. One was in office supplies, the other was in Do It Yourself home improvement. There was a feeling that they had pretty classic self-deprecating British humour as part of their psyche since they really were the extreme business underdogs. Sort of vaguely in a Radio Active but-more-actually-honest "Honest Ron"ish style, and that a key thing for me as an American approaching the business was to take that self-deprecation and elevate it to be a sort of very humble approach to offering things. To try to keep things simple and down-to-earth.

Images of a rather un-populated-by-customers DIY place. Made out of bare wood members and particle board esque materials. But with some folks working there who honestly loved building things, and teaching others how to do the same. A quote from one of the people in the dream: "It's only money." Meaning that most anybody would, if money were no object, want to try their hand at some form of building. That producing, creating, constructing is better for the soul than simply consuming. That taking a drill with a screw bit and screwing together pieces of wood even to make a stupendously simple and prosaic bookcase is fecund soil for growing the soul.

A feeling that we'd throw parties with really good dance, trip, electronic, modern, funky, retro, et. al. music in those spaces. Smart drinks, not booze.

An idea of how to find the place for the first store: Find a neighbourhood that simply has a ton of turn-over at the presumably already existing Lowe's and Home Depot there (e.g. some 'burb of NYC or some such major metropolitan area). Go in there because while it might seem that they've already sewn up the market and that demand has already been tapped / sapped by their supply, this new thing, this new organization, this new approach, this new philosophy would be sufficiently blue oceanic that it would easily take over a sustaining income from them.

Wanting the people working there to be folks who really Get It, who fundamentally love the idea of the venture.

A name that came to me: Profound. You've found your pro to help you get things done. We're here to make a fundamentally different organization. Creativity is enriching. More than Do It Yourself, more like Create It Together. Meanings of such ilk.

This would be an opportunity to attempt to do things the way I've wanted to do business: Aim to be more of a consensus-driven coop than a rapacious business. Try to get the fundamental principles down to a small handful of bullet points (cf. Food Not Bombs). Be as transparent and openly self-documenting as possible. Try to go for a "pay what you want" approach. Open the idea to the world, don't try to keep it under wraps -- I probably can't make it happen alone, and the philosophy should obviously be one of the meme being alive in and of itself; that ideas want to be free (I say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek in general, but mean it seriously for this venture). Be a non-profit. Try to make things open to as may people as possible, try to get around the "it's only money" restrictions people feel: offer financial aid; source reclaimed, free, donated, inexpensive, alternative materials in addition to regular new stuff for sale. Bring in financial and ethical accountants and third-party auditors to avoid having the organization being co-opted should it ever get successful enough for money or power grubbing people or institutions to want to co-opt it.

Since I'm not a big fan of business-as-usual globalization, I was dreaming that the place would try to sell only local (e.g. "Made in USA") stuff. But on the other hand that seems too head-in-the-sand. It would be better to figure out how to do it with introspection about what products are for sale, retrospection, self-evaluation, world evaluation. I had a sense of not structuring the aisles by product type, but by country of origin (which of course is a itself a mutli-dimensional issue -- where is the material from vs. who put it together vs. who gets the profit vs. where do the hidden costs of obtaining it go?). That seemed like it would destroy usability for a regular customer, so then I had a dream of making a grid in the building so that along one axis things were sorted by type, and along the other axis things were sorted by country.

Some slogan thoughts: "Wait, there's more." in a Jimmy Cricket sense. "Get it done." or for the profane adults "Get *it done." "Business at the speed of heart." "DIY CIT."

A need to come up with a layered or onion-esque business plan of sorts. What truly are the core aspects? What is the smallest nugget-kernel of the idea that should be the foundational attempt at the venture?

(Then I just had to get up and write it down. I was still under the dreamy stupor of it being such a tremendous idea that I broke out my two most prized and thus unused fountain pens to use for writing it down. Turns out the vacumatic doesn't work, but the 51 does.)