You might be intimidated by the idea of starting a makerspace. You've read about makerspaces and seen how they're a great resource for people all over the world. Now you want to start one. You don't need much. Dallas Makerspace opened its first location in 2010 with a little over $6,000 in community funds and less than 30 founding members contributing modestly every month. Every makerspace creates its own path based on the resources and vision of the community it serves. Ultimately, you will need the following:
A makerspace is all about passion for your community and a strong belief in the importance of learning by doing. Without a laser-focused passion for serving people, you will be unable to establish the trust necessary to sell yourself or your service to others. It is possible to make money from a makerspace, but your passion must be focused on a sincere love of serving your community. The hands-on exploration, creativity, and collaboration offered by a makerspace provide an invaluable service to those who take advantage of it. You'll need passion and a strong belief in the importance of learning by doing to succeed in this venture.
You will want to provide community access to a physical space that is dedicated to making things. This space can be a corner of a room, an entire room, a whole building, or even an entire campus. Your community will need regular access to this space in order to use it effectively. If you already have a commercial space that you use for another venture, offering a small work area to your community may help contribute to your marketing goals. If you already have a home workshop in your garage or shed, opening this space up to your community could offset tool expenses that you would normally spend on home improvement or hobbies. Also, your workshop and any new expenses would become immediately tax deductable! By offering space in a makerspace, you can create opportunities for people to come together and collaborate on new ideas. This space can be used for educational purposes, business purposes, or simply as a place to gather and be creative. Regardless of how you use it, space in a makerspace can be a valuable asset that won't always be tangible.
One of the great things about makerspaces is that you don't necessarily need your own money or equipment to get started. If you're bold enough to ask around, you may be surprised at how many people are willing to donate materials to your cause. Friends, family, and even strangers can be a great source of makerspace supplies. Of course, if you already have a shop full of tools and equipment, this part is done for you. But for those just getting started, it's important to remember that you don't need to go it alone. There's a whole community out there ready and willing to help you get started on your makerspace journey.
When starting a makerspace, it's important to get the community involved to figure out what they need. This is called market research in the business world. You won't succeed if you don't build a supportive community and do market research, even if it's just informal conversations with prospective members to figure out what they want. A makerspace is only as successful as its community is engaged, so it's important to get feedback from people who would be using it before you start building anything. Once you have a good understanding of what the community needs, you can start planning how to best meet those needs. With a little effort, you can create a makerspace that everyone will love!