While just up the street, buses labeled “Google” and “Apple” cart employees back and forth from massive campuses, the workers at TechCollective make their way to the first floor of a house surrounded by ornate, old, wooden Victorian houses in the heart of San Francisco. As the Bay Area buzzes with dot-commers fighting to be the next big thing, the small team at TechCollective daily opens its door and invites computer owners to walk in with their broken devices. They also maintain the networks of several dozen companies, both on-site and remotely.
“When I heard about the cooperative I knew that it was the right choice for me,” Taran Ramage says. Computer screens, hard drives, various wires, screw drivers and pliers surround him. “I experienced the tech bubble. I worked really hard for other people. It was a gamble.” Now the five members of TechCollective regulate their risk and work on a more personalized scale.
The cooperative offers several services. When computers crash or lock up employees will work to fix the specific device, removing viruses and recovering memory. More than that, however, they develop and maintain comprehensive networks for other businesses. Most of those businesses are local. “I feel like I work for the business community of San Francisco,” says Ramage. He’s not trying to break into a global market, and he is satisfied with this scaled down experience.
“I’m a capitalist, but I want to work for myself, for my company, not for share holders.” When Ramage worked for start-ups he did not own his own work. He likes the shift that TechCollective offers, an opportunity to create new methods and means and maintain control over those methods and means.
As they become entrenched in the local community, TechCollective connects with other tech support companies in the Bay Area and tech cooperatives throughout the country. “We send each other work, depending on the focus and abilities of each group.” Ramage and his team are committed to the idea that growth and development of other collegial organizations is good for the growth and development of TechCollective.
At the end of each day, when Ramage and the other members and employees of TechCollective lock the small door on their work space, they go home happy with the knowledge that the work they did is their own and that it positively impacts the community just outside that door.