[hackerspaces] Establishing hackerspace and getting people actively involved

Adam D Bachman adam.bachman at gmail.com
Tue May 11 20:45:34 CEST 2010

> How many members did other spaces have before signing a lease?  (HacDC had

There were six of us (I think it was, we should write this down) who agreed
to front all necessary money for up to six months. At the end of six months,
if it wasn't self sustaining at $50 per member per month, we kill it. The
cost was about $300 up front each (our three month
and up to $100 a month until there were enough members to cover monthly
expenses. That's considerable personal expense given that the money could
otherwise be put directly into projects and none of us were independently
wealthy. The payoff was the space and the community that could be built
around it. We called this the "failsafe".

The immediate implications were: 1) we could move quickly to secure a space
we could afford, 2) we didn't have to worry about membership, because at the
very least we would survive, and 3) finances were not going to be a concern
for the first six months, so we had a guaranteed period in which we could
build the space, start projects, do community outreach, look for members,
run workshops, etc.

People showed up. Our first three months we went from 10 members to 17. Now
near the end of our first year we've got 24 members and lower churn than I
expected. We're making more each month than survival requires and we're
looking to upgrade the space, so, success. It's not guaranteed by any
stretch of the imagination and it took non-trivial amounts of obsession over
a three month period in order to bring it all together. My wife needed a lot
of convincing that I wasn't going to be left holding the bag. If there
weren't five other people willing to risk it, I couldn't have been involved
(for better or worse ;).

At the meeting when we actually agreed to sign the lease, we capped
recurring monthly responsibility at $100 max, standard membership dues at
$50, and agreed not to move unless we had enough people to put us in the
black. I have a page in my notebook with the names and dollar amounts
pledged at that meeting. To [finally] answer your question, I think there
were 10 people who committed before we signed the lease (I can check the
docs). We never had to execute the failsafe, and the rest is history.

- Adam

On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 1:48 PM, Nick Farr (hackerspaces.org) <
nick at hackerspaces.org> wrote:

> On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 01:52, Jens Christian Hillerup
> <jens at hillerup.net> wrote:
> >
> > In Labitat we had a general assembly with nine participants last year.
> > Before that we had one or two meetings with slightly more people. At the
> > general assembly we decided we wanted to make a hackerspace, so we set
> down
> > a board and *all* worked towards raising money for workshops before we
> had a
> > space.
> This seems to fit in with the pattern.  However, as I've noticed it,
> while 4-12 people sit on the "board" or are the core organizing group,
> it ends up being 1-4 people who do the leg work of collecting the
> money, filling out the papers, searching for a space, etc.  How did
> Labitat end up dividing the work equally?
> > Sometime in October last year we held an Arduino workshop paid for
> > from some money ($3000) that we won in a "project battle" against ~20
> other
> > youth-related projects in Copenhagen.
> This is definitely cool!  Do you have links or more info on this?
> (Perhaps I'm running into language problems GTFAing my question...)
> > In December we had sixty members that actually paid a monthly fee (>=
> $30)
> > so we decided to sign the lease.
> This is another good data point to have:  How many members did other
> spaces have before signing a lease?  (HacDC had 6)
> > January through March 2010 we were renovating ev-e-ry-thing and only last
> > month we held our public opening with journalists and media people.
> I think this is definitely unusual...while each space I know of does
> some renovation, going from trashed-to-space seems a bit odd.  HacDC
> renovated a new room that opened up in our building, but that process
> continues to this day.  (We just got better power down there.)
> Nick Farr
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