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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:28 am 
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You could divide the "maker space" into sections oriented towards particular genres of tools (eg. wood/metal/electronics/automotive/etc.), then have a base membership that gives people limited access to basic tools/workshops and add on "area" memberships. If some of the makers were willing to craft a magnetic stripe card access system for the different areas, you could even have a kiosk to sell hourly (minute/per-use?) access to areas that people wouldn't be willing to pay for monthly memberships but could use from time to time. Highly specialized or expensive tools could have their own room/fees to better recoup costs of ownership. Also having some workshops/classes free for members and some which require payment would probably be acceptable. You could reward people who have the talent and initiative to develop and lead classes or workshops with credits for area access in exchange for sharing their knowledge and expertise.

Referral credits for getting others to join is another way to increase funding by giving incentive to people for helping build a larger membership base.

I also like the idea that was raised about registering as a not-for-profit organization and seeking donations/grants.


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:11 am 
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ACM gives discounts to people who present or teach a class. Perhaps a similar model would help? It would at least encourage people to share what they have. Also, don't be afraid to hit up every business, tech school, university in the area and beyond. Philanthropists live under every rock.

Competitions are great. Entry fees help weed out slackers and keep people on track, and a few bucks in the coffers doest hurt either. Not to mention great publicity.


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:38 am 
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From what I've seen on the "Hackerspaces" wiki the most successful locations are also the most expensive. Starting an endeavor like this is going to require some startup capital and some regular cash flow to keep things running to offset ongoing costs.

Being a non-profit may complicate things but I've known a few people that've run (or helped to run) non-profits and the word on the street is that the Twin Cities is a healthy place to look for philanthropy. Some work will eventually be needed from typically expensive types like laweyers and possibly media types, designers, etc. As a non-profit it's much easier to make your pitch to get a hand with things.

The other for-profit model could work as well. But organizing a business around a membership-based shop and workspace may be difficult. For the first few months operating costs would be high as building, tool acquisition, and paying administrative staff would still be required even without many members. Membership would swell over a period of months but start to dwindle when the novelty wore off for the fickle (they're out there). Alot of other spaces in larger cities only have 10-30 dedicated members although the reason for relatively low membership may be debatable. Even at $100/mo with 30 members ($3000) I'm not sure if the organization could break even or turn a profit to be reinvested or shared.

Without that philanthropy to offset operating costs I don't see how a $10/mo model would work unless there were hundreds of members - even then the maintenance on machines and wear on whatever staff is there will be amplified to a high and possibly unsustainable level, but that's another problem for another thread. The most successful ones I've heard about are between $100-200 per month. I'd start thereabouts and decrease the cost only as alternative sources of funding are found. Corporations, foundations, local educational charities, universities, individuals and other typical sources of philanthropy might have less cash for projects like this than they used to but if it can be used to build PR for a company then I'm sure it'd be an easier sell.

On workshops...

Workshops are a must, if only as a way to offset costs. People will pay a one-time fee to learn basic fab skills, welding, hacking, circuit bending, etc. I know that local bender band Beatrix*Jar have done circuit bending workshops in places like that before and there's plenty of talent in the twin cities that could help. The Ham community, the bike-builder hardcore, the art car fanatics, electronics hobbyists, and many other groups will resonate with the idea too and every one of those communities will have natural instructors that will be happy to share their wealth of knowledge.


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:16 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:26 am
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The membership fees should be couched in terms of the money people already spend on entertainment. For instance, each month I spend:

$15 on Public Radio
$40 on high speed internet
$15 on MMORPG gaming
$12 on Emusic download rights

Most people also spend between $40 and $100 on cable or satellite and don't think twice about that.

I wouldn't hesitate to pay $25 a month for this, depending somewhat on location, once I stack it up against where the rest of my (truly) discretionary cash goes.

_________________
Mike H.
My maker blog


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:39 am 
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Insurance is likely going to be a driving force in membership fee requirements.


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:28 pm
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Michael wrote:
Initial capital can be raised by offering discounted, pre-paid, refundable (if it doesn't fly) multi-year memberships. In the $100 range, I would bite. Throw in a little "early adopter love" discount and it's a cinch.


FWIW - I meant $100 / month, not $100 / year.


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:57 pm 
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zevn_dad wrote:
Insurance is likely going to be a driving force in membership fee requirements.


Agreed. Has anyone looked in to signing up for commercial liability insurance before? Perhaps we could poke around for some quotes to see if it's even feasible?

Insurance and facility costs will be the two biggest recurring costs. Initial costs would be for whatever materials/machines we can't get donated.

How about a Google Spreadsheet for an initial pass at a budget?


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:31 am 
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Location: NE Minneapolis
budget is useless until we have a location as that will be the primary item. if we've got a big garage, then our costs will be a lot less than if we've got a warehouse, however the number of bodies we can cram in will be smaller.

insurance will be based on legalese waivers for hold harmless, so the danger is in folks damaging the building, meaning you'd need to be "certified" to use say the welding gear by walking through some basic training, or taking a welding class before you can use certain tools. that in itself will be a tiering level of membership. i.e. you join and you can use all the hand tools, but to use basic power tools you have to take a class /show proficiency to a trainer that you know how to use a circ saw safely. class costs the same as teh test, a nominal fee, but you can test out of it if you know the tool. maybe you get the lockout combination to the table saw or combination lock on the oxy torch when you pass.

in terms of fee structure being split up/ tiered by type of work, i don't know about you, but i use *all* sorts of tools to build something.


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:33 pm 
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uptownmaker wrote:
I wouldn't hesitate to pay $25 a month for this, depending somewhat on location, once I stack it up against where the rest of my (truly) discretionary cash goes.

I'm thinking that for alot of people a membership to a workshop like this would be more than just entertainment. But for many it would be part of more varied entertainment spending. I think there may be some natural segmentation in our user base that would justify a "good, better, best" model.

Maybe a series of tiers for "casual", "serious", and "professional" makers/craftsfolk would be in order? Given the costs of things like insurance, equipment, administration, and other vital things I'm not sure a $10-20/mo flat fee for all would be sustainable. But if we had 50 members at $20/mo for "casual access", 20 at $100/mo for "all day access", and just a few at $250/mo for "all hours" access then that might be more sustainable from a budget perspective. I just pulled arbitrary numbers out of my head as an example so please don't focus on the numbers. The definition of what each tier means would take some tweaking and understanding of the customer base but it could work, it's far too early to say what fees would be specifically.

In the end it'll depend on the needs of the people that will inhabit the space. If we've only got people that want casual access and nobody doing any "professional" building (prototyping, development, etc) then that will define things clearly. We will need to be mindful of budget since, in my experience, insurance and maintenance (to pick just two topics) are almost always more expensive than anyone considers at first.


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 Post subject: Re: How should we approach the membership fees
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:33 pm 
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Location: NE Minneapolis
part of the higher investment making it successful is if it only cost 5$ a month you don't feel bad about not going to the gym, but if it costs 50/month, that's wasted money. it's buying into the idea of the investment not just the use of facility.

the trick will be finding a balance between affordable yet enough to make it an "investment" 20 a month is pretty reasonable for some pretty nice gear and unlimited access.... what about 5$ an hour for "casual", 30$ a week, 100$ a month or 400$ a year? (yearly could be paid in 4 monthly installments. i.e. you buy a month 4x in a row and get a year, or pay upfront)

is that too steep? ~35 a month for unlimited access to basic tools? and get one "trained" or certified tool class thrown in if if you do a year?

(i really think basic gets you everything basic, and you need to pay a nominal fee and take a 15~4 hour class depending on the tool to use more complex stuff that will break/explode if you misuse it like a serger, or weldign gear, or could cause serious bodily harm like a circ saw)


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