Pooling money as a group to obtain and share resources


Are there cooperative groups who share the cost for a number of resources (ie media lists, CRM)? Have you ever used this model, and if, so, did you find it successful? How did you meet the participants? Was it pretty easy to pool money together? Is there a contract protecting such activities, and, if so, what is the name of said contract/field of law?

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asked Oct 10 '09 at 13:11
315 points

3 Answers


Here are the main problem I see with pooling resources in this manner:

  • you'd only want to pool expensive resources - sharing, for example, a phone line is pretty pointless
  • expensive resources tend to be very specific - take, for example a mailing list. is a list of consumers aged 45-55 earning 200K+ is vital to you? Probably not.
  • specific resources tend to be used by competitors - let's say that list was important to you. that'd mean you'd want that group's business... which means you're probably competing in my space (if not directly, then for budget)
  • probably against the usage agreement - not a big one, since its unlikely you'd get caught. but, still.

That said, I have thought about this myself, and a few local businesses and I do share some resources. Mostly conference room space. I've got two conference rooms, but access to four.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 13:43
Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points


I'm in the process of trying it and its not going so well. What is important to note is that some people come to the table with resources to share, so the question can be reduced to just sharing pooled resources. I.e. I have a stake in a small data center and can get servers up quickly. Though that entails money, money is secondary to what I'm bringing to the table. Therein lies the problem.

To succeed where we are currently falling flat on our faces, try the following:

  • Develop a system where each person puts their max contribution (in money) into some field. Let them deduct each thing that they do so others can see how much (left) they are willing to put in.
  • Make sure everyone checks this before putting some plan in motion, so as not to drive any single contributor into the red (based on what they are willing to do)
  • Make sure everyone involved knows, it is their responsibility to reasonably estimate the actual burden on the others when entering into a contract. That often means coming back to partners to discuss things before signing someone after having a few scotches and dinner.

In my case, a fellow partner made a $10K sale, but it required me to float 3x more than my comfort level for several months in hardware to make it happen to the point that we see money. Now, what do I do? Not do it and sink the idea, or do it and go into debt? Neither choice is agreeable.

Its easy to argue that we need better communication in this respect, and we do .. however details hinder deals.

In this situation, do not do it until every detail is ironed out, especially the detail that describes how and when communication needs to happen. Or, make it clear that the result of the exercise is for a controlling partner to emerge. Unless done carefully, one person will end up carrying the entire weight.

answered Nov 8 '09 at 01:25
Tim Post
633 points


I remember I tried this years ago, when I started a software consulting business. I met two people, one of them was a client and the other person was a friend of my client. They both had their own businesses (tax preparation businesses), we decided to group and share the costs of marketing campaigns. We were able to get considerable discounts because of the amount of prints and ads we ordered (that was one of the marketing campaigns). However, it was hard to manage this, all of us were busy doing our own thing and so we had a hard time administering the costs, orders, etc... of the marketing campaigns (and the tax implications as well)... in the end, we decided that it was not worth the hassle, we thank each other and dissolved that relationship.

It didn't work for me back then, haven't tried it again, but that is my experience regarding this.

Good luck!

answered Oct 10 '09 at 13:46
4,815 points

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