Elysium Studios Cooperative, P.B.C. (which is the legal name of Elysium Studios) is a worker-owned “public benefit cooperative” based in Colorado focused on improving the field of new media. Currently, we’re on the start-up path and working on our first visual novel, My First Castellan. However, we are interested in improving the areas of journalism, blogging and podcasting, comics/graphic novels, and music.

What do you mean by “Pride of the West”?

An 1898 photochrom of a round-up in Cimarron, Colorado

It isn’t an idle boast. Elysium Studios aims to be a cooperative that is the pride of the West… the New West. The West evokes ideas of exploration into uncharted territory. The New West takes that spirit of exploration and new horizons and brings them into industries such as technology and media.

And nowhere is the New West better expressed than in Colorado. Colorado is a highly desirable place to make video games and launch other New Media projects, has anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Coloradans (and gender neutral IDs to boot!), along with arguably one of the best cooperative laws in the United States.

Elysium Studios is proud to be based in Colorado and we hope that Colorado is proud to have us here too. We aspire to be the Pride of the West.

What is Elysium?

Goethe’s Ankunft im Elysium

Elysium is a Greek myth about the afterlife. Essentially, Elysium (or the Elysian Fields) is a place those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life.

Elysium Studios is our crude attempt to manifest the Elysian Fields in the here and now. In fact, this mythology has not only inspired our name but our logo and branding.

… Wait, “cooperative”?

Yup, Elysium Studios is a worker-owned cooperative. That’s why we have a dot coop domain name and there are references to cooperatives sprinkled throughout the site. Being a cooperative means that we’re a values-driven business that puts worker and community benefit at the core of our purpose.

There are large cooperatives all across this country. Land O’Lakes is a $12 billion club functioning all across America. There are rural electric co-ops in 47 states. Ace Hardware is a cooperative.

Kent Conrad

The Benefits of Being a Cooperative

In contrast to traditional companies, workers at worker cooperatives participate in the profits, oversight, and often management of the organization using democratic practices. Workers own the majority of the equity in the business, and control the voting shares.

The model has proven to be an effective tool for creating and maintaining sustainable, dignified jobs; generating wealth; improving the quality of life of workers; and promoting community and local economic development, particularly for people who lack access to business ownership or even sustainable work options. According to United for a Fair Economy:

One of the main barriers to business ownership for people of [colour] is access to start-up capital… [Worker cooperatives make] business ownership more accessible.

State of the Dream 2013

Worker cooperatives build local wealth

At a worker cooperative, profits do not go to distant investors, but instead go directly to the workers. As a result, the money stays grounded in the local economy, building community wealth. With ownership in the hands of workers, who are usually living and spending locally, these companies stay connected and accountable to their communities.

Worker cooperatives create quality jobs

Workers have a meaningful role in the business, as they contribute to and benefit from the success of a company they co-own. Jobs at worker cooperatives tend to be longer-term, offer extensive skills training, and provide better wages than similar jobs in conventional companies. Furthermore, worker cooperatives offer opportunities for greater participation in management and governance decisions that help the business succeed.

Worker cooperatives create meaningful change for underserved populations

The New York Times concludes, “by placing workers’ needs ahead of profits, they address the root cause of economic disparity.” (3/23/14) More than half of worker cooperatives in the United States today were designed to improve low-wage jobs and build wealth in communities most directly affected by inequality, helping vulnerable workers build skills and earning potential, household income, and assets.

Yeah, I know what a cooperative is, but what’s a “public benefit cooperative”?

Yeah, Elysium Studios is incorporated in Colorado as a cooperative formed as a public benefit corporation. This allows us to pursue certification as a B-Corp and gives us a legal mandate to do good for the community, not just for our worker-owners.