Support Network for Free Software

Support Network for Free Software: We support independence by making Fee Software the most convenient option.

Austria
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

At the moment most people are using proprietary software since this is the default solution which is available with ease. This way they rely on untransparent systems controlled by others. Freie.it makes professional support for buying, setting up and administering computer systems with Free Software accessible. So that even people without extensive technological knowledge can enjoy independence from closed formats and restricting programmes.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

As a society we rely more and more on computer systems to administer our lives. Therefore, the possibilities open to us depend on our choice of technology. We need technology we can trust. Trust comes from transparency and accountability. Proprietary software is non-transparent by definition. Nobody outside the providing institution is allowed to check what exactly this software does. Not even governments are allowed to penetrate these secrets. The first obligation for a for profit company is to generate revenue. Therefore, without control users' interests get truncated for greater gains. Especially when economies face constant threat of collapse. The intention is not to try to harm others. This is just a consequence of how things work.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Nobody can hide unwanted functions or disable certain possibilities in Free Software. Everybody can get complete access to the source code and is allowed to publish altered versions. This way, Free Software stays accountable and independent. Since Free Software doesn't enable anyone to limit others to only use (and buy) certain products, there has been no powerful body to push its market share. As a consequence, despite its obvious advantages only few people use it. Huge computer security scandals lead many to crave a trustworthy alternative. Unlike traditional Linux user groups freie.it enables people with no desire of becoming computer experts to get Free Software solutions. We work to make Free Software the most convenient option.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Lisa needs a new notebook. She is no expert on computers and worries to make wrong security decisions ending up with technical problems and no reliable support. Via a quick internet search she finds freie.it. She calls an expert from the list on the platform to discuss what he can do for her. She confirms the e-mail with her order from the expert. Like announced, a few days later the expert visits Lisa at home. He sets up her new system and shows her how everything works. Since Lisa doesn't really care about the technological background she decided to keep the expert as administrator. She can give him remote access when ever she needs his help. If she has connection issues he can visit her since the expert lives in her area.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Profiles on our platform are free at the moment. We start as a local project in Vienna. If we find growing demand it is easy to geographically widen the range. After leaving the testing stage our group of Free Software advocates behind the NGO will locally advertise the availability of this service by spreading leaflets and giving talks. (If we decide to collect additional funding via member fees or paid profiles we can even pay for traditional advertising.) Since we use Free Software only the availability of our concept is not limited to our NGO. Everybody can set up local projects. The more people using Free Software the greater the demand for the services offered via freie.it will be. We deliberately started with a very low level implementation and designed the basic framework in a way that it can provide the necessary structure for rich functional incremental enhancements.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are some very successful business to business companies offering Free Software solutions but they ignore small scale enterprises and the private sector. In Linux user groups people can get help with Free Software. They are usually populated by quite advanced technicians and they most of the time overexert what new people can comprehend. They can reach only people with a serious interest in computer systems and with high self confidence in that area. There is extensive documentation for Free Software. In theory everybody can get an expert by just working his way through that material and endless guides and forums available on the internet. Obviously this as well excludes people who just understand the advantages of Free Software but who lack the desire to become computer experts themselves.
Team

Team

freie.it is a small volunteer based NGO. We keep business and the work of the NGO strictly separated. The association supports the adaptation and usage of Free Software by providing infrastructure and organising information events. The business happens only between experts and customers. Therefore the role of the NGO is limited to providing infrastructure. Business acteurs and customers can suggest features and donate money and time but the association itself will never offer paid services. Acteurs in the NGO act in self interest in order to support the platform which they are depending on. Volunteers can practically come from any field, but most are experts and customers in one person since nobody can be expected to be an expert in every field.
About the Lead Co-Creation Partners
Organization:
Ing. Gregor Horvath - Industrieberatung & Softwareentwicklung
Visit website
LEAD SOCIAL-MISSION ORGANIZATION
Type of organization (e.g. NGO, association, not-for-profit, foundation, social enterprise)

NGO

Total Number of Full-Time Employees

0

Lead Contact First Name

Franz

Lead Contact Last Name

Gratzer

Title

Chair

Country

Austria

Twitter URL
Facebook URL
LEAD CORPORATE PARTNER
Organization Name

Ing. Gregor Horvath - Industrieberatung & Softwareentwicklung

Total Number of Full-Time Employees

1

Lead Contact First Name

Gregor

Lead Contact Last Name

Horvath

Title

Ing.

Country

Austria

Twitter URL
Facebook URL
Organization Website
Basic Info
Project Starting Year

2014

Primary European Country where this Project is creating social impact

, WIE

Additional European countries where this Project is creating social impact

theoretically any

Select the category that best fits the type of your project:

New products & services: Entries in this category develop and offer essentials product and services that address needs currently unmet, Job Creation: Entries in this category create new jobs for people away from the labor market.

What awards or honors has the project received?
Project Summary
Co-Creation Model: Tell us about your main strategic partners and how the partnership truly create value. For each Partner please include its type (business/social/public), its name, a short description, its key motivation to participate in the co-creation project, and the key contributions it is making in the co-creation project. Please follow the format displayed below:

- Independent Free Software experts
-Type of partner [business]
-Short description sentence [Programmers, supporters, consultants, etc. offering their services on our platform. This can be self employed experts as well as companies offering fitting services.]
-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project [Earn income through contracts gained via their profile on our portal and support the solutions they themselves believe to be the best option.]
-Key contributions in the co-creation project [Provide the main computer technology services for the public]

-Customer
-Type of partners [public]
-Short description sentence [People wanting their technological independence searching for experts willing to help them with their computer needs.]
-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project [They want to fulfil their technological requirements without the need to get experts themselves. They want fast, trustworthy help without having to worry about technical questions.]
-Key contributions in the co-creation project [Investing money and this way becoming the body of the public shift to Free Software.]

-freie.it (NGO)
-Type of partners [social]
-Short description sentence [Free Software enthusiasts, willing to devote spare time for establishing and supporting the platform. (Active for years as advocates for Free Software.)]
-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project [Urge to cause the shift from proprietary dominance to a fairer, more reliable and more pleasant working environment for all of us.]
-Key contributions in the co-creation project [Building, guiding and developing the process. Support for other stakeholders.]

Impact
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact. Please specify using qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. # of indirect and direct beneficiaries); help us understand how this solution truly makes a difference.

The platform is in testing mode. Therefore we didn't advertise it or let search engines list it yet. Anyhow, we got considerably good feedback on our concept when ever we presented it on information stalls and talks. Many people seem to be eager to have such a service available.
So far the target group of Free Software has been mainly the relatively small group of technologically interested people. We explicitly target the general public by lowering the main participation barriers. The services on our platform are (usually) not offered for free. Therefore only people who are prepared to pay money for computer support will actually be willing to use it. But since such a service is quite rare for end users and practically non-existent for Free Software we expect a considerable large untapped target group. We plan to do a survey in order to gather concrete data on the concrete demand.

Sustainability
Funding: How is your project financial supported? [select all that apply]

Individuals, Customers.

Sustainability Plan: Has your project already reached financial sustainability? If not, what is this solutio’s plan to ensure financial sustainability? Do the main partners have enough stake to sustain the solution? If this project requires limited budget, how will other resources be secured to maintain or grow this work?

So far only volunteers donated (a little) money and some time. By introducing member fees for freie.it and by collecting fees for profiles we can adjust to financial needs. (It will never be necessary to be a member of the association freie.it in order to have a profile. Therefore member fees are different from profile fees.) We only want to consider profile fess if people actually experience they can create income by being listed on our platform.
Since most volunteers are experts as well they profit from the success of the platform. It's in their own interest to help it succeed.
The further development and implementation of features is not mandatory to ensure the basic functionality. If the project grows, it seems reasonable to foster its appeal by introducing useful features like user feedback and testimonials or like insider circles for experts in order to strengthen the community.

Team
Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the Partners to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

Some volunteers from the Viennese fellowship group of the Free Software Foundation Europe where exploring the reasons why they ended up in the Fellowship and why - despite its virtues - only so few people are using Free Software.
Except in very seldom cases most new computers come with proprietary systems pre-installed. Companies made their limiting products the most convenient option. If we want Free Software solutions to become the most prominent option the only way seems to be getting much more convenient. Free Software solutions can not compete with the advertising budgets or industry pressure of international corporations, but it's possible to offer better personal support since Free Software doesn't constrain competition. Myriads of people can earn their income by working with Free Software to what ever conditions they want.

About the Co-Creation
Barriers: What main barriers may you have encountered to co-create during the creation and implementation of the project and how did you try to overcome them?

Experts are somewhat reserved to offer their services. Their main concerns seem to be:
1) They have already too many customers and mainly want to outsource some of their work. We plan to provide education for getting more experts on varying knowledge levels since not every request needs to be done by the most experienced experts.
2) Many experts would like to find other experts in specific fields, but do not want to be available to the general public. Later in the process we will incorporate user levels and a rights management which enables experts to adjust the visibility of their profiles.
3) The profitability of computer support is very dependent on possible variations. If we want to have low fees, this will only work with specific hardware. We suggest offering specific well chosen sets to our experts.

Governance: What is the type of the relationship between the partners? (e.g. joint venture, contractual relationship, joint project...)

Publicly available profiles can be accessed by anyone without login. People willing to provide support can apply for being listed as experts. We only publish board-reviewed experts on the platform. At the moment most board members are experts as well. In general customers can become experts (with a profile) and anyone can become a supporting member of the association freie.it.

Interaction model: How is the project a transformative partnership? How is the interaction transforming the partnering organizations and their employees/ leadership in terms of creating a new vision, new management practices, new skills and new organizational structures? Please provide for concrete examples

At the moment we are aiming to enable people to find Free Software experts as easy as possible respectively to connect such experts with their customers. In future we plan to organise further education for (potential) experts in order to satisfy the demand. This enables not only normal end users to profit from Free Software but as well strengthens the availability of experts on the field. It is not yet clear if the trainings will be organised as normal paid services or funded by any other source. We will discuss this as soon as we reach the proper stage of the process. By default it will just be implemented by some experts as normal offerings in their service profiles.
The main goal of freie.it is to foster the use of Free Software. Therefore our primary obligation is to enable as many people as possible to switch to Free Software in order to liberate their everyday computing.

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