Inspire. Learn. Collaborate.

September 9 – 10, 2017

Bram & Bluma Appel Salon,
Toronto Public Library



Disrupting the Disruptors is a conference dedicated to understanding and accelerating platform co-operatives in Canada. This event offers a practical exploration of a more equitable digital economy by using co-operatively owned digital platforms. Can co-operative ownership solve the challenges we face from platform monopolies? Let’s explore the possibilities of building a sustainable platform economy that benefits entrepreneurs and people.

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Add to My Calendar 2017-03-03 9:00:00 2017-03-05 16:00:00 Eastern Standard Time Platform Cooperatives Toronto A multi-day conference on and the development and deployment of platform cooperatives in Canada. Toronto, Ontario Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada bdenovan@canada.coop


Registration & Coffee

09:00 AM

Plenary I: Seeing the problem – Sean Geobey, University of Waterloo


09:30 AM

Networking Break

10:30 AM

Panel sessions & Discussion: Framing the canvas

Who and why? The actors and motivations behind the platform co-operativism movement

  • Kristy Milland, McMaster University
  • Dionne Pohler, University of Toronto
  • Kaylie Tiessen, Unifor
10:45 AM

Lunch – Identifying gaps in research & areas of interest

12:00 PM

Painting the picture: Roundtables & Discussion

The “sharing economy”: issues and inequities

  • How have sectors, communities, and individuals been impacted by the quick growth of these online platforms?
  • How can the tech sector address power, labour issues, and discrimination?
01:00 PM

Discussing the alternatives: Session 2

The Canadian context

  • Legislation & policies around our online spaces.
  • Specific challenges and opportunities within Canada.
  • What can we learn from abroad?

Alternative governance & finance

  • Advantages and drawbacks of alternative models (including co-operatives, nonprofits, and others)
  • Social, economic, & political implications of alternative governance.
  • Innovative financing options.
01:50 PM

Ranking questions & discussion

02:40 PM

Networking Break

03:00 PM

Plenary II: Sharing our work

Moving forward: Setting a research agenda – Sean Geobey, University of Waterloo

03:20 PM to 04:00 PM

Registration (Prologue)

Coffee, continental breakfast

08:30 AM

Welcome (Epic Hall)

Opening remarks: Denyse Guy, Executive Director of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada

  • Sean Geobey, University of Waterloo: A brief report from the academic gathering.
  • Agnès Dupriez, Mouvement Desjardins welcomes participants
09:00 AM

Opening keynote (Epic Hall)

Nora Young talks about technology and innovation affect our lives and careers, our behaviours, our social models and our world.
09:15 AM

Panel Discussion: Platform Co-operatives, Issues & Opportunities

Moderated by Nora Young: Exploring the context, concepts, and challenges of the platform economy, the concentration of value chain capture and the opportunity for co-operative-based solutions. What have we learned about platform co-ops since 2015? What role might there be for the traditional co-operative movement?

  • Trebor Scholz, Associate Professor for Culture & Media at The New School in New York City.
  • Brianna Wettlaufer, CEO and Co-Founder of Stocksy United.
  • Nathan Schneider, Journalist, and scholar in residence of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.
  • Evan Henshaw Plath, Activist, coder, first engineer at Twitter, and CTO of Affinity Works.
09:30 AM

Networking Break (Prologue)

10:15 AM

Platform Co-op Startup Showcase

Existing start up co-op projects in different states of development illustrate the diversity of the model and also the opportunities and challenges: Short 15 minutes presentations followed by Q&A.

  1. Jen Horenjeff, Savvy Cooperative, a multi-stakeholder co-op model, so how do you balance the interests of all those stakeholders?
  2. Sito Veracruz, Fairbnb: Platforms in city-based markets. Models for scaling up and building global platforms existing in distributed legal frameworks and regulatory regimes.
  3. Brianna Wettlaufer, Stocksy United: The implications of distributed ownership on growth, governance, and maintaining the vision of platform founders. Scaling up with integrity.
10:30 AM

Lunch (Prologue)

Networking space Q&A: Co-op values and principles – (Prologue) Q&A about
co-operative values, governance, structures/models, and principles: Ask about worker/producer/multi-stakeholder/Fairshares models.

12:00 PM

Start up and Scale up Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion moderated by Helen Kontozopoulos, Co-Founder/Director, University of Toronto Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab:

  • Jen Horonjeff, Ph.D.,  Patient Engagement & Consumer Insights Specialist, co-founder of Savvy.coop
  • Sito Veracruz, Entrepreneur and urban consultant in Amsterdam, founder of Fairbnb (working name)
  • Brianna Wettlaufer, CEO of Stocksy United
  • Nathan Schneider, Journalist and a scholar-in-residence of media studies at the University of Colorado


01:00 PM

Freelancers, the gig economy, and platform co-ops

Moderated by Colette Murphy, The Atkinson Foundation for Decent Work:

  • Kristy Milland, McMaster University, Expert in crowd work from the workers’ perspective.
  • Greig de Peuter, Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Trebor Scholz, Associate Professor for Culture & Media at The New School in New York City.
02:00 PM

Networking Break (Prologue)

02:45 PM

Showcase 2: Established Co-ops and Experimental Models

Existing models illustrate the diversity of the co-ops and also demonstrate competitive resilience: Brief presentations followed by a Q&A.
  1. Frisia Donders, SMart cooperative, EU: A shared co-op platform that reduces precarious employment by offering services, social protection, and a community to 85,000 freelance workers in 9 European countries.
  2. Cloe Waretini, Enspiral Network, NZ: Building entrepreneurial solidarity, democratic decision-making, experimenting with organizational structure, managing power dynamics. Maintaining vision and culture as you grow.
  3. Patrick Nangle, CEO of  Modo Car Share Co-op, BC: Resilience of the co-operative model in the sharing economy, the evolution of Modo Co-op.
03:00 PM

keynote: Evan Henshaw Plath, Affinity Works

04:00 PM

Closing Remarks: Trebor Scholz

04:45 PM

Networking Opportunity: Coffee & Pastries

8:30 AM

Welcome and introductions

What questions do you want to answer today?

9:30 AM

The platform co-operative ecosystem

by Nathan Schneider

The Internet of Ownership (ioo.coop) and the diversity of projects globally. The role of the Platform Co-operative Consortium and Internet of ownership in platform co-op development.

9:45 AM

International Platforms and National Legal Frameworks

by Margaret Vincent

10:45 AM

Co-operative Governance and Platforms

by TBD

An overview of the tools, methods, and lessons to date? What questions do you want to answer today?

11:30 AM

Buffet Lunch

12:30 PM

Financing a co-operatively owned platform

Figuring out how to finance a more democratic, values-centered online economy.

1:30 PM

Looking forward

Future research, possible partnerships, and co-op development opportunities.

2:30 PM


Learning about sustainable platform businesses
We’re pleased to present experts who are pushing hard to balance ownership and equity in the digital economy. Platform co-operatives are an alternative to venture capital funded platforms because they are owned and governed by those who depend on them most — workers, users, or stakeholders. Co-operatively owned digital platforms can help entrepreneurs succeed and build a sustainable and profitable platform economy.

The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon is a versatile and engaging space flooded with natural light. It offers a contemporary modular design and is comprised of three rooms which can be used separately or in combination.  It features two outdoor terraces, a full catering kitchen, a built-in bar and private washrooms.

The pre-conference academic gathering, on September 8, will be held at the University of Toronto DCS Innovation Lab.

Some Questions

Can co-operative ownership solve the challenges we face from platform monopolies in the sharing economy?

Will blockchain technologies make co-operative and democratic ownership of the web possible?

What would an Uber owned by its drivers look like? Would a Twitter governed by its users make it more sustainable?

How can public policy spur and protect co-operative platforms? What kinds of financing and legal support do they need?

This is a networking and learning opportunity for coders, entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, academics, and change makers

To build international momentum toward more thoughtful and sustainable platforms, we will be creating opportunities to socialize and build relationships with the Platform Cooperativism movement.


We have taken great care to make this event affordable. If you feel you have good reasons to request free admission, please contact us.

September 8
Pre-Conference Academic Gathering
Researchers and Academics from across Canada and internationally will meet for an unconference style day. To register, please email: alex.szaflarska@gmail.com


September 9
Disrupting the Disruptors
Presentations and keynotes about the co-operative opportunities in an expanding digital economy. The logic, reasoning and examples that point to new and more sustainable digital platforms.


September 10
Platform Co-op Workshop
In depth analysis of the investment models, technological solutions, governance innovation, legal frameworks, and partnerships that can advance platform co-operative development and support a Canadian and international ecosystem.


Thank You To Our Partners

Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get to the venue?

The map and Contact details are listed within the contact information.You will also receive a confirmation email with location map.

What about accommodation?

The cost of the hotel accommodation and travel is not included in the event fee. For  accommodation rates, please see our list of hotels near the venue.

What payment types do you accept?

All payments are processed via Eventbrite. You may also pay at the time of the event. But please reserve your seat by contacting us directly.

Can I get a refund on my tickets?

All tickets are non-refundable unless the event is cancelled by us, in which case we will make a full refund.



Bram and Bluma Appel Salon

16 Asquith Ave, Toronto, ON M4W 2G8

Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM




+1 613 238 6712 extension 206


If you have any questions about the event, please contact us directly.

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