[hackerspaces] Establishing hackerspace and getting people actively involved

Adam D Bachman adam.bachman at gmail.com
Mon May 10 16:59:34 CEST 2010

I definitely see what we do administratively as a business. It is whether
you're for or non-profit. You have income and overhead, the second must be
balanced against the first, therefore you are running a business. If you are
creating something people want, they will pay money for it. Whether the
thing you're selling is the actual physical space or a compelling vision,
backed by physical infrastructure, you've got a product. Going for-profit
over non-profit allows flexibility, but can reduce the image of community
ownership. The co-working community (in the US, at least) has been combining
for profit and community led successfully, so it can work.

I think the important perspective you gain from approaching the thing like a
business (as opposed to pure hobby) is that people will not know what you
are doing unless you tell them. You have to be able to tell the story of the
thing you're building or people aren't going to be interested. Leave enough
open space for them to add their own chapters and the whole story becomes
richer (that's the community side).

I'm convinced hackerspaces are actually two things: on one side there's
physical infrastructure. This is tools, equipment, parts, and space. A
hackerspace can exist without this, but probably can't exist with just this
(e.g., TechShop). On the other side there's the community. People who do
awesome things, or want to be around people who are doing awesome things. A
hackerspace can exist which is only the community of people interested in
working together.

Infrastructure is not necessary, but it's a catalyst for action. Maybe even
the ideal catalyst, but it's still a means to an end, not the end
itself. The business approach to hackerspaces is concerned almost entirely
with the first part, the infrastructure, so it's good not to get caught up
in it because it's the second part, the community, that matters.

- Adam

On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 9:25 AM, Sara Gould <sajego at alum.rit.edu> wrote:

> I'm wondering if anyone else has used a model of starting a
> hackerspace as a business (successfully or not).  Some of you have
> said, essentially, "if you build it they will come".  So it almost
> makes sense to take your savings and bootstrap to rent a space and get
> some stuff in there to attract members. Then charge the membership fee
> that's needed to cover the space expenses and your personal expenses.
> I don't think you'd get rich, and when the space takes off justifying
> it as for-profit might be tricky, but it's a way to get started maybe
> it's not risky as it sounds, especially if you can get a flexible
> lease.
> Just my 2 cents... been thinking on these lines since November so I'd
> be curious what anyone else has to say.
> Sara
> On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 9:19 AM, Tim Krabec <tkrabec at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I'd like to say don't get discouraged.  I've been working on Hak-it for a
> > long time (1st post on the website was July 17, 2008 ).  Since then I've
> > been trying to gather some support get community members interested, etc.
> _______________________________________________
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> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
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