We’ve made a lot of progress since our web site went up in early May.
We have a small hardworking group of founders who have been working steadily on promoting the Rochester Maker Space and developing our business plan. We also have an impressive amount of tools to start with and some seed money to work with. So we’ve begun looking for both temporary and permanent locations to rent.
Nearly everyone who is currently involved lives on the east side of the city or in the eastern suburbs. So that’s probably where we’re going to be unless we get a huge donor who influences our decision.
We’re still months away from being able to rent a permanent location but we need to start looking at possible locations to gather cost information for the financial section of our business plan. We also need a better estimate of how many members we’ll start with and how much space we’ll need. We probably won’t have one until at least October, after the college students have returned. Our goal is to open in a permanent location by early next year.
In the meantime we’d like to find a small (1,000 to 1,500 sq. ft.) and inexpensive (~$500/month) temporary space that we can rent within the next two or three months. A temporary location will give us more credibility, help us attract members, and give us a place to work in and hold classes. It’ll also give us an opportunity to start learning on a small-scale how to manage a maker space.
But before we can consider renting any kind of space need to accomplish several things.
First, we need to find a lot more potential members. To do that we need to continue publicizing the Rochester Maker Space. We also need to do a better job describing what we’re trying to create, what we’re going to offer, how we can benefit the community and what memberships will probably cost.
Second, we need to find more people who are willing to help us with our huge to-do list. This is probably the most difficult challenge facing us. So please contact us if you’re interested. We have very simple things you can do to help, along with some more challenging ones.
And third, we need to find a good, affordable and personable lawyer to setup our not-for-profit corporation and advise us in some other ways. We can’t rent a space and buy liability insurance until we do so. Forming a corporation will require us to formalize our management team, prepare bylaws, and raise funds to pay for our legal fees. If we can’t do that, and also prepare a good business plan, then we probably shouldn’t even be trying to start a maker space.
When we first started I thought we would appeal mostly to engineers, geeks, hackers, hobbyists, entrepreneurs and other technically oriented “makers” who wanted access to machine tools, welding and metal fabrication equipment, woodworking tools, laser cutters, electronic test gear and 3D printers.
But then we decided we also wanted to make artists and crafters feel welcome. And as a result we’re getting an enormous amount of interest from that part of our community. We’re still not sure what they need in terms of tools but we have learned that access to workspace is very important to them and also all kinds of “makers.”
We’ve also learned that many of the most successful maker spaces have been able to achieve financial stability and create well-equipped community workshops by renting extra space to their members who want it for additional storage, a private work area or even an office area. So we’re looking into doing that also. You can find some of our research in our discussion forum.
We also once thought we could be a completely volunteer run organization. But now we’re not so sure of that. We’re worried that 3 or 4 people (or fewer) will end up doing most of the work and that won’t be sustainable for long.
We still intend to rely mostly on volunteers to hold costs down (expect regular group work sessions to fix machines or sweep floors). But we also think we need to at least consider getting to a point we can afford to hire at least some part-time help.
By the way, we’ve already decided we’re going to pay instructors because we think it will help us attract better ones and make it possible to schedule classes more regularly. But we haven’t decided yet how much to pay them.
So, our business plan is becoming more complicated and we need to spend more time working on it, especially the financial sections. But we’re already pedalling about as fast as we can. So we could really use some help with it.
Please don’t be afraid to ask questions or make suggestions in the comments. And we hope you can make it to our next organizational meeting. It will be at 7 PM on Monday July 23rd at the Webster Library.
The Rochester Maker Space is having another organizational meeting on Monday, July 23rd @ 7 PM
This time we’re going to be meeting in the Webster Library’s meeting room. It’s at 980 Ridge Rd, near the Hard Road exit of RT 104, in the plaza across from Staples and BJ’s).
Come early to socialize and network. There will be refreshments.
We’re going to discuss
Our goals and vision
Renting a temporary space
Buying a 3D printer
Getting more help with our to-do list
Please join us. We need your input and help to launch a non-profit community work space with affordable access to a wide variety of tools and classes. A place where you can meet and collaborate with other talented and creative people.
Makers Org NZ takes the concept of a makerspace to a new place. Traditionally these clubs are a space for members to come together, share project ideas and learn new aspects of design while using communal equipment that would be too expensive to buy on their own. Members of Makers Org NZ get all that—except the space and equipment parts.
The club has no actual space of its own, but instead arranges get-togethers and offers a place for people to share the projects they have made. It aims to be “the online focus point” for makers in New Zealand, and has links to other actual makerspaces throughout the nation. Makers Org NZ also organizes and promotes workshops, including some a bit outside the traditional metalworking and woodworking found at the average makerspace. One workshop taught participants how to assemble and play Nebulophones, which are small electronic instruments that create synthesized music. Once the workshop ended participants were able to share a few beers and have a jam session.
While bringing together makers and creators is the main aim, the overarching goals Makers Org NZ are a bit more high-minded. It tries to bring people from all walks of life together, from professionals to new graduates to simple enthusiasts who love their craft. The club has a special attention on children, trying to impart in them a “maker mindset” that steers them away from a consumer lifestyle and teaches them to create for themselves.
Makers who visit the site can find forums about tips and projects and a calendar with meet-up events throughout New Zealand. There are links to the five other makerspaces in New Zealand, along with short descriptions of each one and the features they offer. The site also connects members to resources, like online suppliers and a 3D printing company based in New Zealand.
I found a report about hackerspaces that was written by three students for a college project. In my opinion it’s almost a must read for anyone who is interested in starting a hacker or maker space.
Two of the authors wrote it for scholarly reasons and the third because he wanted to start a for-profit hackerspace. It’s not dated but it looks like from the bibliography that it was written during or after November 2010. The sixty nine page PDF has three parts:
Its main section describes the history of hacking and hackerspaces and how they’re evolving. It also lists some resources for learning more about hackerspaces
And it includes the business plan for MakeIt Labs, a for-profit hackerspace that is now located in Nashua NH.
I haven’t studied the business plan enough yet to say how helpful it will be to us. But I think the answers to the questionnaires are fascinating. They asked good questions and got some great replies.
Do you call it a hackerspace? Do you use the term hackerspace? If so, what do you feel that term means?
What are the demographics of your hackerspace (age, professional/ education background, etc.)?
How did the hackerspace start?
What is the management structure like?
Are you a formal business entity? If so, what kind? (LLC, Corp, non-profit status, etc)
How do you deal with liability? What kind of insurance do you have? How much of your operating budget do you spend on insurance percentage-wise?
What are legal problems you’ve faced, if any?
What are your sources of income? If you charge members, how much? Are there special discounts for poorer members?
What are some regular activities if you have any? Do you charge?
What is your relationship with the public?
What is your relationship with other local hackerspaces?
By the way. While getting the link to Hacker Dojo I noticed they’re trying to raise $250,000 (yes, a quarter of a million dollars) to “Save the Dojo.” They’re going to use the money to renovate their building and eliminate some fire and zoning code issues that prevent them from having large events. So far they’ve reached almost half their goal and have received some huge donations ($20K, $15K, $10K).
This short two-minute video describes the Westport Connecticut library’s plan to build a maker space inside its Great Hall. Patrons will then either be able to watch Joesph Schott, the library’s first “Maker-in-Residence,” build two very large (15-foot) wooden model airplanes or actually help him with their construction. The finished planes will then be kept on display at the library.
BuildMore Workshop thinks of itself like a fitness club. Members of the community can come in, utilize the thousands of dollars of equipment the club owns and socialize with others who share their interest. Except instead of treadmills and free weights BuildMore Workshop has professional grade tools.
The club, located in suburban Columbus, Ohio, has a mix of metal and woodworking machines along with plenty of power outlets and pneumatic hookups. It strives to be part-workshop, part-classroom, with a front lab filled with computer stations, reference materials and electronics. The space gives members a place to learn more about how to use the equipment, study new projects, brainstorm with the others using the area and just take a break and relax.
The focus of BuildMore Workshop is on woodworking and metalworking projects, so while there is a range of mills, saws and drill presses, there isn’t really anything for people looking to embroider or sew. But though the focus is tighter than some other do-it-all makerspaces, the arsenal of tools is not. It has machines of all sizes made to fit any project, and even two different CNC mills, one smaller and the other a larger vertical one.
BuildMore Workshop makes projects easy for its members, keeping a variety of the materials they need. Members don’t have to work about lugging in things like lumber, nuts and bolts or hardware products, as these are all provided. The workshop even keeps scrap parts for members to tinker around with, and if members can’t find what they need BuildMore Workshop will order the part from its exclusive industrial supplier.
The workshop is a bit different from other makerspaces in that it offers members expert help. Professional designers are available to help members learn about some of the more technical aspects, creating 3D computer models or working prototypes for their ideas. BuildMore Workshop also has its own robotics lab, a place where members can see a real industrial control system at work. The workshop encourages members to bring their children along to see how the robots work and get interested in engineering.
BuildMore Workshop aims to be more than a resource for its members. The club offers classes on workshop safety and opens its doors to events like Boy Scout meetings, craft fairs and robotics clubs. People interested in becoming members can look over pictures of projects other members have created on the BuildMore Workshop website. There they can also follow links to online resources, videos and blueprints to give them new project ideas.
Maker Works wants to be more than just a space for hobbyists to work on projects and socialize. The club, located in Ann Arbor, Mich., aims to help give a boost to the local economy by encouraging members who want to start craft-related businesses, adding what the club calls “micro-manufacturing” to the area.
Club organizers say the mission is especially important in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, hit hard in past decades by the departure of automakers and manufacturing plants. The club sponsors a series called Crafting the Small Business that teaches the logistics of running a craft-based business. Participants can work with experts from around southeastern Michigan, including consultants, instructors and sellers.
Maker Works has workshops for metal, circuits, wood and crafts, each with benches and tables along with plenty of electrical outlets. Each area in the club’s open floorplan has top-of-the-line tools, like a Clausing Colchester Engine Lathe and Tormach CNC Mill in the metalworking area. The craft section has a MakerBot 3-D Printer and an Epilog 50W Laser Cutter, one of the club’s most popular tools. The club helps make work easier and more efficient for members, providing an online calendar where there can sign in and reserve tools for certain times. It even has a conference room with a whiteboard and digital projector where local maker groups can hold meetings.
Maker Works also offers different classes and camps to members, including Brain Monkeys camp, which encourages young students to learn robotics. In the summer Maker Works hosts three resident artists from the area to work in studios, giving them a chance to use the tools they might not otherwise afford. The club trains them on tools they are not familiar with and offers storage space and access to computer software. At the end of the summer the residents showcase their work to the public during an evening lecture.
What is a Maker space? In layman’s terms, it is a huge clubhouse for inventor types. In more technical, correct terminology, it is a common physical location (as opposed to cyberspace on the internet), for craftsman, artists, inventors and “makers” of all things to congregate and work. It is a place where they can collaborate; share ideas, knowledge, and resources; socialize; work on projects or inventions; with access to a large variety of tools, training and equipment.
A “Dream Maker Space” is the Detroit Techshop, which anyone can join and use. It has developed a partnership with the Ford Motor Company that allows Ford employees to use TechShop’s facility and equipment for work or personal projects. Ford has strong hopes it will be a catalyst for economic recovery, new jobs and business for Detroit.
TechSpace is currently located in five cities and they’re getting ready to open a new one in Brooklyn. Their Detroit facility has 17,000 square feet and houses $750,000 worth of laser cutters, 3-D printers, CNC machines and tools of all kinds. In addition, TechSpace has “Dream Consultants” on hand to give advice and act as sounding boards. It is indeed an elite maker space facility.
Ford believes prototypes are taken more seriously than designs that are only on paper, and Ford executives, suppliers and the community are more apt to pay attention to them. Patent disclosures are up an impressive 30-percent since they launched the program. They say the patents are usually for the common and greater good; to be shared with all industries.
Whether a member of the Detroit Techshop is a young college graduate of engineering or art, or an industry person, an inventor or even a hobbyist, young or old, the tools and opportunities are there to build a dream.
The Quad Cities area, a stretch of Mideastern Iowa and Northwest Illinois with five major metropolitan regions, is a hotbed of artistic activity and a growing technical sector. These qualities combine make the perfect setting for a makerspace and QC Co-Lab has created just that.
Created in March 2010, this non-profit organization is meant to be “a haven for technologists, entrepreneurs, engineers, educators and hobbyists to meet and create their wildest dreams.” It operates out of a 4,000-square-foot space with industrial and electrical workshops, dedicated conference rooms, an audio-visual studio and a classroom.
Though it may be newer, the club is working hard to gain a strong foothold in the area and promote creativity between many other groups. It wants to build strong relationships with other makerspaces, and tries to entice members of other groups in by offering them free t-shirts or coffee mugs if they bring one from their own club. QC Co-Lab also tries to stretch its reach beyond just makerspace projects. In the fall it is hosting a multi-day video game tournament where teams compete to finish levels of the MegaMan series. Classes offered at QC Co-Lab also run the gamut of interests, like a screen printing class held earlier this year where participants made their own t-shirt designs.
Members of QC Co-Lab get round-the-clock access to the space, and the club gives ample opportunities for non-members to check it out as well. Dues are $35 per month for an individual or $45 for a family.