I am working on creating a makerspace for my area in Valparaiso, Indiana. Any thoughts by the makers of the DMS?
have very reasonable and clear goals going in, and make sure the founders have a common goal. Also be prepared to put a ton of time and your own money into it. @AndrewLeCody and a few other founders can probably weigh in.
@Mary_Mathias might also weigh in on starting a makerspace.
I’ve started one and now helping to run this one… a major difference I’ve seen is having a core group of people. DMS was started within the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, which had already formed a community and even some property and expense sharing: https://www.dprg.org/founding-of-the-dallas-maker-space/ – as stated above some of the founding members during that time might have some more to say.
But that one fact, in my opinion, accelerated the growth of the organization and made it much quicker to establish. One thing the space in Cleveland suffered from was the need for money and volunteers – you need both, and you need both to get more of both.
In terms of advice starting one, decide on your format and start small. Focus on a particular technology that’s not too pricey to start with, maybe some 3d printers and laser cutters. Get a core group of people that believe in it and will put money into it as well – having been one of the sole people putting money into the Cleveland makerspace, it definitely contributes to burnout.
In terms of business model, we’re a 501c3, and while it has some benefits, it also has a number of downsides as well. You could also form under a social club as a 501c7 (similar to fraternities, yacht clubs, etc), or even go for-profit – though most attempts at that have not succeeded. Investigate all those options, as it’s hard to change once you’ve gone down a certain path (I am not a lawyer, I am not your lawyer, and this is not financial advice).
I’ve also seen some private makerspaces where it had very limited membership, high dues, but awesome space and equipment. Of course, that depends on how much money is in your area.
Like many things in life, it can be very rewarding, but requires lots of work. If you have any more specific questions, just let me know!
Thank you for all of the comments. I will digest them over then next few days