Inspiration Labs, a local educational non-profit has been moving very quickly towards establishing a membership driven, creative space for hobbyists, inventors, makers, and artists. In the last two weeks, the board of directors has established bylaws and established a plan for membership.
Inspiration Labs, Inc. was formed to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities. Our plan is to accomplish this mission by establishing local Hackerspaces and Makerspaces where people can get together to work on individual and group projects and attend classes led by members.
Until a suitable space is identified and approved, membership rates have been set at $20 for individuals and $30 for families. These exceptionally low membership rates help Inspiration Labs demonstrate to potential landlords and partners the sustainability of the local maker community and provide seed money for startup costs in a new space. Members receive exclusive access to private events. They also have extended hour and streamlined access to MOSI’s fabrication lab, and discounts for our member-led training events. Members also help with the space selection process and participate in strategic decisions for the space.
Our immediate challenge is to locate an affordable space for our first community workshop and classroom within the Tampa Bay area. We would like to partner with local businesses to repurpose unused space into shared workshops and classrooms where we can provide equipment and diverse skill sets. Besides the philanthropic benefit of providing this space, partnering organizations could benefit by having access to a broad spectrum of skills embodied in the community’s membership.
Mid-term, we have to establish our organization financially. We need money to handle the startup and ongoing expenses of operating a full-access Hackerspace sustainably.
Long-term, we intend to provide our community with a network of shared spaces and access to state-of-the-art equipment at affordable prices. We’d like Tampa Bay to become a showcase for how these things are done.
To accomplish our goals, there are a few things that everyone can do to help right away.
1. Join! We don’t have a space yet but we can start building a community and interacting as a Hackerspace now. Members are how we fund our space and are necessary when negotiating with realtors and businesses. Our immediate costs for corporate filings, insurance and legal expenses is $5,200. It costs money for deposits, equipment, build out, toilet paper, furnishings, security systems, and the dozens of other things we need for our own space. Sure, we can have classes and do a kickstarter and other things to raise money but membership is really important for another reason. Once we move into the space, we need to know we can afford to keep it. No one wants to spend a bunch of money to move in and then flame out in three months because we can’t pay the rent or electric bill. Having paid members helps us ensure we will be able to fund our operating costs to keep the space open, keep it nice and make sure the equipment can be fixed if it breaks. It also lets us demonstrate to donors and potential landlords that we have a community who is active and engaged in what we’re doing. The membership app and Paypal links are on the membership page.
2. Help us find a company in the Tampa Bay who can help us out with our space requirements. We know there are companies out there who have unused space and might be willing to make us a deal. Think about tech companies, machine shops, light manufacturing, warehouses, building owners. If a company has recently downsized or leased too much space and isn’t growing into it as fast as they expected, we would love to talk to them. We are trying to get past the chicken and egg problem of having members and money and space by lowering the up front cost and the immediate need for ongoing revenue until we can establish ourselves into a permanent home. With 180 people in our Facebook group, I’m sure some of you know someone who might be able to help. Of the options available to us now, this is the quickest way to get into a space and really start doing interesting (and fun) things. If you have a lead, please don’t post it here. Please email whatever information you have to us at email@example.com.
3. This one is more of a long shot but certainly not beyond our capabilities. If we had a donor or angel investor willing to back the organization, we could quickly solve both the financial and space problems with no further muss and fuss. Did you go to college with someone who is suddenly independently wealthy? Know any lottery winners looking to do some good? How about that tech genius who sold out to the Silicon Valley elite and pocketed a bunch of cash in the process? Actually, even if they aren’t filthy rich but simply well-to-do, perhaps they’d like to contribute on a smaller scale to help us out. If you have a donor lead, make an introduction for us! Send us the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.