I was reading this Brick and Makers website and came across the term “freechise”. It is used as a term to describe an open source franchise business model. This particular website might be poorly worded in parts, but the concept of a freechise is interesting.
Some of the things that can be open sourced about a business are:
- Logo – The open source franchise can have a logo and allow a small subset of the graphic to be specific to the individual operator.
- Policies and Procedures – The policies and procedures manuals can be distributed via a repository like Github and forked or outright re-used by each franchise operator.
- Software – The software that underpins the business can be open sourced, letting others freely use and contribute to its development.
Commercial franchises have strict rules that have to be followed or you can lose your franchise. For example, there is a certain standard that you must adhere to if you want to keep your McDonalds franchise. How should these types of controls work in an open source environment? The franchise is a brand and consumers expect the same quality and product from each franchise owner. When you go to one McDonalds, you expect the Big Mac to taste exactly like the Big Mac you had in a different city. It is not clear to me yet how this is enforced in an open source franchise.