I know there’s a lot of questions on where we stand right now in launching our Maker Space. Here’s the update:
Our biggest obstacle right now is publicity. We’re only about 3-½ months old and almost no one knows our name or what a maker space is, but that could change very quickly. College students will be returning to our area soon and we’ll be putting up posters on the various campus’ to generate interest. We’re also trying to come up with other inexpensive and effective ways to publicize ourselves. If you have any ideas then please email or call me.
We were recently mentioned in the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper and two other local publications have shown interest in doing stories on us. We’re also steadily getting new subscribers to our email announcement list. There is definitely growing interest and excitement about what we are and what we are planning so we want to be ready to quickly rent a space when we think we have enough prospective members to move forward. So we’ve found a lawyer we like who can quickly form our non-profit corporation and we’ve talked with a CPA and an insurance agency.
We’re also looking at real estate and talking to landlords. We found a space at 17 Industrial Street in Rochester’s up and coming Cascade District that we want to discuss renting temporarily at at our next meeting on September 5th @ 6:30 PM at The Flying Squirrel. If there is strong interest in it from prospective members then we could have our maker space open by October. And if there isn’t then we will at least have a better idea of what we should be looking for. Your input is important and I look forward to hearing your thoughts at the meeting on September 5th.
All great organizations need a great business plan and we are working on ours. One of our problems is that we don’t know how much permanent space we will need. The majority of successful maker spaces (and hackerspaces too) almost always go through huge growth spurts, which requires moving to bigger locations. So we’re trying to come up with realistic cost estimates for running three different size maker spaces: 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 square feet of space. Some costs are not easy to estimate (like utilities) so if you, or someone you know, has had experience renting commercial real estate and would be willing to be a mentor, we could certainly use the help.
We’re are also looking at ways to raise startup funds. We have someone willing to help pay the rent for a short time, but we’re going to need a lot more money than that to open our doors and equip our space. So we’re going to try creating a “Founder’s Club.” The first 100 people to donate $100 would get the right to call themselves a Founding Member of the Rochester Maker Space and get their name engraved on a large plaque that will be permanently displayed in our space. Additionally, Founding Members will receive a certificate or perhaps an additional memento to express our appreciation. We are also going to try using KickStarter or other crowd funding sources and we will actively seek donations from businesses, organizations and professionals. Again, please share your thoughts and ideas with us through email or at the upcoming meeting.
As always, we greatly appreciate any help or support you can give us, any suggestions you may have to the topics discussed here, or any additional thoughts that may help us in launching the maker space. If you have any questions always feel free to contact us via the contact page on our website or post a message in our forum.
I look forward to seeing you at the Flying Squirrel at 6:30pm on September 5th.