We don’t have to tell you: making a living as a maker ain’t easy — and it ain’t cheap. Workspace and proper equipment are expensive, and creating a prototype for a complex idea … well, unless you have a 3D printer or thousands of dollars lying around, it’s easier said than done. But we’re a creative bunch, and that’s why makers across the country are banding together to create “makerspaces” designed to feed our constant need to create. And one such concept in particular is changing the game. TechShop, a membership-based, DIY workshop, is empowering makers across the nation (and now the globe) to invent more, dream bigger and aim higher.
Founded by Jim Newton in 2006, TechShop now has 10 locations (and growing) nationwide. For a monthly or annual fee, members have 24/7 access to 20,000 square feet of anything a maker might need. Each location is equipped with machine tools and equipment like 3D printers, industrial sewing machines, water jet cutters and more. It’s like having your very own factory minus the overhead—meaning you can save startup costs to fund even more of you brilliant ideas. Each location also hosts networking events and classes to help makers familiarize themselves with specific equipment. So it’s not only helping people capitalize on their craft; it’s helping them learn new ones. A guy named Jack Dorsey, for example, had an idea for a dongle that goes on a phone and allows every business owner to accept credit cards. A former glassblower and computer programmer, he had never worked in plastics or electronics before. But by joining TechShop, he learned how to use the tools he needed to build his prototype, which raised $10 million to launch a little company you might know as Square.
Through TechShop, CEO Mark Hatch and founder Jim Newton have empowered anyone with a good idea (or even a bad idea, for that matter) to launch their own hardware company—and your idea could be next.
Dream on, makers. Dream on.