[hackerspaces] Who currently has the best, most functional hackerspace model?

Pete Prodoehl raster at gmail.com
Tue Jul 5 20:42:36 CEST 2016

I'm a former Board Member at Milwaukee Makerspace (now just a regular 
member) but we've got 255 members right now, and we manage our 
membership stuff through Wild Apriocot <http://www.wildapricot.com/> 
though it was a home-brew system in the old days. We have an access 
control system for the space built by one of our founders, and it's 
integrated into the payment system so if you don't pay your dues, you 
don't get in the building.

As we've grown and add more and more members, people don't know each 
other as well as when it was a smaller group, but we've gained financial 
stability, which is good. We allow members to choose where a percentage 
of their dues go every month, to a specific area/focus of the space, 
like the metal shop, casing area, laser cutters, etc. Then Area 
Champions can use the funds for supplies, improvements, materials, etc. 
It's worked well so far, and we still have money in the bank.

We also got all rule happy and had to add all sorts of rules when we got 
big, and we need to remind people to "Be Excellent to Each Other" fairly 

As for culture, it's become much more "heavy machine" focused and some 
members seem to not be able to even use a computer for simple tasks. We 
also have people who are at the space every single day, and some are 
there all day (and night) it seems, which I think has an influence on 
the culture and the atmosphere of the space.


On 7/5/16 12:35 PM, Robert Davidson wrote:
> Shirley,
> For Dallas Makerspace,
> We use Smart Waivers (Commercial Application) this collects there 
> Name, DOB, Signature, Email to track understanding our waiver.
> We use WHMCS  (Commercial) as our Member Managment System this 
> collects there Signup information and which membership class they are 
> in as well as triggers recurring billing andt a automated emails such 
> as (CC failures, Expiration, Password Resets)
> We have a custom solution Maker Manager currently 3.0 that handles 
> integration for AD, MakerManager, WHMCS, Access Control.
> This allows self service for items such as issuing RFID Badges, Adding 
> Family Members,
> for the admin side creating Contractor RFID, Audit logs etc.
> A couple of notes that I think help a lot,
> Direct Correlation between events and new members,
> Only allow reoccurring membership dues for example no one time 
> payments of cash check etc
> During tours ask how they heard about us
> For Cancellations ask why they are leaving
> Culture of Recruitment
> Adequate access control that does not allow a non member or non active 
> member to traverse the bldg and use tools. (We are way past the size 
> everyone knows each other)
> Automate all billing/membership access decisions (Nobody wants to shut 
> someones badge cause they are having hard time but you have bills to 
> pay, automation makes it less personal)
> On a financial model Dallas is running in what I am going to call the 
> GYM model
> Our price is $50 a month which gains you access to everything a lot of 
> people tell us that the price is too low but in truth my goal is to 
> make it so they don't cancel when they are finished with a project to 
> create reoccurring revenue. I have visited quite a few makerspaces and 
> feel this model is the most sustainable.
> I would estimate 70% of the membership show up less than once a month.
> I think the biggest decision comes down to culture,
> Dallas to my knowledge is one of the biggest when you do member count 
> approx 1,200 members and growing.
> But culture is sacrificed gone are the days of everyone knew everyone, 
> and running the corp like a club.
> So IMO Red Mountain should identify what kind of culture you want and 
> based on that find a model that works for you to achieve the desired 
> results.
> Robert
> On Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 11:24 AM, Shirley Hicks 
> <shirley at velochicdesign.com <mailto:shirley at velochicdesign.com>> wrote:
>     So would I.
>     All for saving steps. :D
>     — Shirley
>>     On Jul 5, 2016, at 11:23 AM, Christopher Agocs <chris at agocs.org
>>     <mailto:chris at agocs.org>> wrote:
>>     dosman, I'd love to see your exit interview questionnaire. Could
>>     you send it to me?
>>     On Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 11:20 AM, dosman
>>     <dosman at packetsniffers.org <mailto:dosman at packetsniffers.org>> wrote:
>>         A couple things to consider on this specific topic. My
>>         experience is that things go slower than desired on most
>>         hackerspace projects, but they do happen as there is
>>         time+demand, you just have to be ok with that. If people want
>>         to get involved and help they will, if no one wants to do the
>>         work then it’s left to the few that do the work as they have
>>         time. Lots of administrative stuff was done by me because it
>>         saved me tons of time in the long-run (invoicing automation,
>>         nag email automation, membership processing automation, etc).
>>         Unless it’s causing a serious detriment to the group I don’t
>>         worry about timelines for most projects though. Exceptions
>>         would be things like physically moving spaces and other
>>         urgent matters that affect all members.
>>         As for member churn, we have a google questionnaire form that
>>         automatically goes out when memberships end. Most people for
>>         our group leave for lack of free time to use their
>>         memberships, moving away, etc. but sometimes we do get good
>>         feedback that something was wrong we didn’t know about. I
>>         have another questionnaire i am about to deploy to new
>>         members after they have joined for a few months to get a
>>         fresh angle we might be missing. But I’m a survey and
>>         spreadsheet nerd, so that’s my desire.
>>         Thanks,
>>         -dosman
>>         > On Jul 5, 2016, at 8:25 AM, Shirley Hicks
>>         <shirley at velochicdesign.com
>>         <mailto:shirley at velochicdesign.com>> wrote:
>>         >
>>         > We’ve adopted as many of the hackerspace patterns as
>>         possible, but are a bit hung up reaching long-term financial
>>         sustainability due to member churn. The space we selected to
>>         start in required a lot of work and it has burned some
>>         members out. Given our community, we also have a shortage of
>>         members with some of the key skills that make setting up
>>         systems (IT, business) go faster, so that has taken some
>>         time. Getting there now.
>>         >
>>         > We’re also dealing with some in-group/outgroup issues -
>>         mainly between those who’ve been trained in other
>>         environments to work tightly as a group (HAM, emergency ops,
>>         military) and those who have not.
>>         >
>>         >>
>>         > — Shirley
>>         > RMM, Birmingham, AL
>>         >

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