[hackerspaces] Establishing hackerspace and getting people actively involved

john arclight arclight at gmail.com
Mon May 10 18:50:02 CEST 2010

So one of our shop neighbors down the street is a scuba diving shop.
They have been around for at least 15 years. At the same time, I have
seen at least 5 other shops that do the same thing come and go in our
town. Basically, it's them and a couple of shops that are about 100m
from the water that have survived.

What they do differently, is that the two owners have other jobs. One
of them manages some real estate properties and builds motorbikes,
while the other guy works for the Post Office.  They have a very
active dive club, and the shop is pretty much there to support the
club.  Neither of them try to make it a source of incredible wealth,
but they do run it like a business and make sure that it always is
cash-positive.  I'm pretty sure that they spend whatever profits they
make on more diving anyway.

The lessons I take from this model, which seems to be working for them is:

1. Someone needs to take ownership and treat it like a business or you
will get mired down quickly and not be focused on paying the rent,
sustaining the place, etc. The person who does this is putting in
their time and risking considerable money. They deserve to be paid for
their risk and expenditure if profits occur.

2. At the same time, set the expectation that it's never going to get
anyone rich.

3. Community support is key to making this work. In this case, it's a
business that exists to support a club.


On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 9:02 AM, Christopher J. Pilkington <cjp at 0x1.net> wrote:
> On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 05:33:40PM +0200, Koen Martens wrote:
>> I would think that approaching a hackerspace in such a commercial way, with
>> paid staff, has a danger in it: that the 'members' are slipping into consumer
>> mode. Expecting the paid staff to take care of everything, refusing to pick
> I tend to agree... in my definition, hackerspace != coworking
> space/workshop.
> It's like the difference between a group of enthusiastic fitness
> nuts that start their own weightlifting club vs. a gym where
> people sign a contract, pay their membership, and use the
> hardware available.
> It's all about community and collaboration, IMHO.
> -cjp
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