My name is Jim Newton, and I am the founder of TechShop. I started TechShop because I needed a place to build my hundreds of projects. It turned out that a lot of other people needed the same thing, and that's what has made TechShop such a success!
I started TechShop because I am a maker, and I personally needed access to a wide range of tools and equipment so I could build my hundreds of ideas. Originally I planned to only build one TechShop (this one in Menlo Park), but it turned out that the idea was a lot bigger than I had anticipated, so we quickly began to expand.
The land where our original location in Menlo Park is located is being redeveloped, so we have to move TechShop Menlo Park to a new location by Halloween 2013!
As part of the TechShop Menlo Park community, we ask you to consider backing this Indiegogo campaign in any way you can in order to help us raise $2.5 million so we can move TechShop Menlo Park, and rebuild it as the best TechShop location yet!
What Is TechShop?
TechShop is America's first and largest membership-based do-it-yourself workshop that empowers its members to build all the things they have always wanted to make.
Here is a brief video about TechShop and features a few of our members who use TechShop to make an impact on the world, and their own lives:
The First TechShop Ever...TechShop Menlo Park
I opened the first TechShop in Menlo Park back in October 2006, before there were any hackerspaces or makerspaces in the US. We couldn't just look at another makerspace and copy their model, so we had to design it from scratch. But with the help of our amazing community, we were able to fund it and get it open. Members of our community helped by telling everyone they knew about the TechShop idea, by pre-purchasing memberships, by providing us with $25,000 loans, and by volunteering to help us actually build the facility. As a result, we opened the doors of the very first TechShop on October 1, 2006...almost exactly 7 years ago.
As demand grew, we went on to build TechShop San Francisco and TechShop San Jose and crowd-funded more than $5 million for those two locations before there was even such a thing as "crowd-funding".
Today we have six TechShop locations across the US (TechShop Menlo Park, TechShop San Francisco, TechShop San Jose, TechShop Detroit, TechShop Austin, and TechShop Pittsburgh) and five more locations in development including TechShop Chandler AZ in partnership with Arizona State University, which will open in November 2013.
Our mission is to open hundreds of TechShop locations in the US and other countries and provide everyone with the tools of innovation so they can make amazing things and change the world.
We employ over 120 full-time employees, hundreds of part-time instructors, and we currently serve nearly 6,000 active members including 850 active members at TechShop Menlo Park. Thousands of people take classes at TechShop every month.
TechShop has enabled many of its members to launch businesses and products, including some world-changing products and a lot of very successful campaigns on Indiegogo and other crowd-funding platforms.
TechShop Menlo Park was our very first location...where it all started. I have a personal love for this beat-up old location, and lots of our members love it despite its blemishes. But now TechShop Menlo Park is in danger of being closed if we can't raise funding to move it to a new location.
We Have To Move or Close Down!
As part of a planned development that has been in the works for a while, our Menlo Park building along with all the other buildings on our block are now slated to be demolished. So we need to move out of our current building before October 31, 2013...Halloween!
An Exciting and Positive Opportunity
We actually see this turn of events as a very positive opportunity for us to make TechShop Menlo Park even better than it is now and add all the new programs that the other TechShop members enjoy. Yes, the situation is urgent, and if we can't raise the funding we need, then we will need to suspend operations of TechShop Menlo Park, but we are hopeful that you and the rest of the community will step forward and help us raise the money we need and move and rebuild TechShop Menlo Park!
So What's Our Big Plan?
We've learned a lot and made a lot of improvements in the TechShop model since we opened this first location back in 2006.
The new TechShop Menlo Park will feature all brand-new tools and equipment. Right now, TechShop Menlo Park still has a lot of the old used equipment that we started with, but it will all be replaced. If we meet our funding goals, we are going to try our best to add some exciting new program areas including a Flow water jet cutter just like we have in all our other locations, an expanded automotive area with a car lift, a licensed and certified commercial kitchen for member use along with a variety of new cooking classes, a jewelry studio complete with a vacuum metal casting foundry, an expanded electronics lab with all new equipment including LabView software and hardware, a large flex room that can be split into smaller rooms for large and small events and includes a back-of-house catering kitchen for food service at events, and lots more.
When we build a new TechShop location as we have in San Francisco, San Jose, Detroit, Austin, and Pittsburgh, it takes us about 5 months to design it, get permits, complete the construction, order all the new equipment, and install everything. We have a lot of experience with this now and we have gotten pretty good at it. We anticipate that the permanent new location facility for TechShop Menlo Park will also take about 5 months to build. The problem is that we have to be out of the current building long before then. So rather than shut down TechShop Menlo Park for several months while we build the permanent location, we will move TechShop to a temporary facility while we build out the permanent location.
The area we are focused on for the temporary location and the permanent location is somewhere within 5 miles of the current TechShop location, and extending a little bit north. Here is a map that shows the region in which we would like to move TechShop Menlo Park:
The requirements for the temporary building include the following:
- Within 5 miles of TechShop Menlo Park (i.e. Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Stanford, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos)
- 8,000 to 12,000 square feet
- 10' to 14' clear height
- Safe parking for up to 40 cars; some street parking is fine
- Ideally slab concrete floor on ground floor. If a second floor, we will need an operable freight elevator
- Power: 400-800 amp service at 240V
Our general plan to move and rebuild TechShop Menlo Park is as follows:
- Secure a temporary location nearby and get ready for move-in
- Move to the temporary location by October 31 with less than 2 days downtime
- Secure a permanent location and design and build it out, which will take about 5 months
- Move TechShop Menlo Park to its new permanent location
We Can't Do This Without Your Help!
We are once again turning to you and the rest of our amazing community for help. We need to raise a minimum of $2.5 million to fund the new equipment and build-out costs, and we will raise the money through a combination of fun and exciting perks on Indiegogo, as well as $25,000 loans (not through Indiegogo...for more information about becoming a lender, please see the loan information on our web site here. The money from the Indiegogo campaign and the money from the loans will be used to build out the temporary facility and the new permanent facility, purchase all brand-new equipment, and put the whole thing together. The new TechShop Menlo Park will be even more beautiful and amazing than any of the other TechShop locations we have built so far, and will incorporate all the new programs and machines that we have added to the TechShop core over the years. This is a huge and ambitious project, and we could never do this without the support of you and the rest of our community!
Check Out These Great Perks
For this Indiegogo campaign, we are pulling out all the stops and offering some really crazy and cool perks that we hope will convince you to help us rebuild and move TechShop Menlo Park.
More About the "Get Skills To Work" Program
One big way you can help fund TechShop Menlo Park's move and rebuilding is to contribute as much as you can to our "Get Skills To Work" program (you can read more about this in our Veterans page.
This fantastic program, which was created by TechShop and our other partners including General Electric, Boeing, LinkedIn, the Gary Sinise Foundation, Alcoa, Lockheed Martin, and many others, provides annual TechShop memberships along with TechShop classes to US Veterans who want to learn new job skills particularly in advanced manufacturing areas such as CNC machining, laser cutting, 3D printing, and computer aided design. It also provides memberships and classes to veterans who want to explore being entrepreneurs in order to develop a new product, service, or company.
You can read more about the overall program at the Get Skills To Work web site.
Here is a brief video of actor Gary Sinise, founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation and one of our partners in the "Get Skills To Work" program, talking about just how valuable the program is to veterans:
100% of the funds raised through the different "Memberships for US Veterans" perks in this "TechShop Menlo Park: Move & Rebuild!" Indiegogo campaign will be used to provide annual TechShop memberships and classes at absolutely no cost to US Veterans who apply, and the revenue will be applied to the TechShop Menlo Park moving and rebuilding effort. We have already distributed over 1,000 free memberships to veterans since we started the "Get Skills To Work" program a few months ago.
Your contribution will help us provide more of these memberships and classes and help vets build skills to become great potential employees in the private sector, or to develop their own product or company.
Other Ways You Can Help
We understand that some people just can't contribute financially, but that doesn't mean they can't still help us empower people with the new TechShop Menlo Park. If you aren't able to help financially right now, here are a few ways that you can help us that don't require you to spend any money:
- SPREAD THE WORD!!! Let people know about this campaign through email, word-of-mouth, social networking, blogs, newspapers, and any other channels you can think of (you can also use the Indiegogo share tools)
- Let us know if you can volunteer to do construction, move stuff, paint walls, organize volunteers, or anything else you think we might need
- Introduce us to people who you think might want to become $25,000 lenders
- Let us know if there is a perk that you would love to get that we have not listed in this campaign yet!
The TechShop Menlo Park Move and Rebuild Team
We have built a fantastic team at TechShop, and every single person on our staff is dedicated to the TechShop mission of empowering people to be able to build the things they want to make.
Here are some of our team members who are directly involved in the "TechShop Menlo Park: Move & Rebuild!" project:
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to some of the more common questions people have asked us about our project of moving and rebuilding TechShop Menlo Park:
Q: When do you need to be out of the current location?
A: We must be completely out of the building by October 31, 2013. Our goal is to minimize interruption of service to our members and staff as much as possible. We will run classes until the last possible day in the current shop and resume them as soon as we can in the new location.
Q: There are already 2 other TechShop locations in the Bay Area within 30 minutes of the TechShop Menlo Park location (TechShop San Francisco and TechShop San Jose). Would you consider moving TechShop Menlo Park to the East Bay or Newark or Santa Rosa or Las Vegas or Sunnyvale or Hawaii or Los Angeles instead of relocating it within 5 miles of the current location?
A. TechShop Menlo Park currently has about 850 active paying members, thousands of people taking classes every month, and a full staff of amazing employees, so we feel it is the right thing to do to keep the new location within 5 miles of the current location. TechShop Menlo Park members typically do not visit our other two Bay Area locations (TechShop San Francisco and TechShop San Jose), so this data indicates that we need to keep the temporary and new TechShop Menlo Park location in the same vicinity. We wouldn't want to move TechShop Menlo Park to a location that is too close to TechShop San Francisco or TechShop San Jose.
However, our goal is to build hundreds and even thousands of TechShop locations in the US and other countries, so it is highly likely that we will eventually build a TechShop in your city.
You can help us get to your city faster by talking with the city leaders, organizations and companies, and raising interest and monetary commitments. We typically need $3.5 million to open a brand-new TechShop location in a given city, and this money can be in the form of large blocks of pre-paid memberships for a 5 or 10 year term, large corporate sponsorships, loans to the local TechShop location, and corporate strategic investments in TechShop corporate to be earmarked for the local TechShop location.
Donations of any amount can be made to our highly successful "Get Skills To Work" veteran's membership program which provides free annual memberships and free classes to veterans of all the military branches of the United States of America so they can develop advanced manufacturing skills to be better candidates for jobs, or to gain the skills to start their own businesses. You can find out more about TechShop's "Get Skills To Work" program with our partners General Electric, US Department of Veteran's Affairs, Boeing, Alcoa, LinkedIn, Lockheed Martin, US Chamber of Commerce, and many others, at http://www.getskillstowork.org.
Q: How can I help fund or donate to TechShop Menlo Park to help with the move and rebuilding?
Q: What is the timeline to build a permanent location and move in?
A. It takes about 5 months to build out a full permanent TechShop facility based on the timelines of the additional 5 locations we have built out since we opened TechShop Menlo Park.
Q. How can I loan you money to help with the move and rebuilding of TechShop Menlo Park?
A. You can inquire about becoming a lender with $25,000 or more on our web site here.
Q. What will the new permanent TechShop Menlo Park look like, and what equipment and facilities will it have for me to use as a member?
A. Our plan is to include all the latest programs and equipment that we have in our other newer TechShop locations, plus some new ones that will first appear at the new TechShop Menlo Park facility.
Q. What happens if you can't find a temporary space in time?
A. Unfortunately, if we are not able to raise the required funding through the Indiegogo campaign and through loans from individuals, we will need to suspend activities at TechShop Menlo Park. If this were to happen, we would ask current members of TechShop Menlo Park to use either TechShop San Francisco or TechShop San Jose. We would also offer prorated refunds to members who requested them. We are quite confident that you and the rest of the TechShop community will help us successfully raise the funds we need to move TechShop Menlo Park and rebuild it to be the best TechShop yet.
Q. Why is your Indiegogo campaign goal $250,000, but you say that you need $2.5 million in order to move and rebuild TechShop Menlo Park?
A. We are raising our funding for moving and rebuilding TechShop Menlo Park from a combination of Indiegogo perks and $25,000 loans from individuals. We really have no idea how many loans we will secure, and we don't know if we will overshoot or undershoot our Indiegogo goal. So because of the sage advice from the folks at Indiegogo, we set the goal on our Indiegogo campaign of $250,000 assuming that we will either overshoot on the Indiegogo funding (which would be awesome), or we will be able to raise $2,250,000 in loans, which is 90 people lending us $25,000 each. Our history supports this idea, as we raised over $5 million in $25,000 loans to open TechShop San Francisco and TechShop San Jose, so we know it is definitely possible to do this and the TechShop community will step up to the challenge.
Q. What happens if you don't raise the full $2.5 million (as a combination of Indiegogo perks and loans) by the end of this Indiegogo campaign?
A. We are pretty confident that we will be able to reach our goal on Indiegogo, and reach our goal of bringing in loans from individuals, since we have done it so many times before with success. However, if we don't reach our goal by the end of the Indiegogo campaign, we may need to extend our timeline, and there would be a chance that we would have to temporarily suspend operations at TechShop Menlo Park until we are able to raise all the money. In this case, the equipment would be put into storage, and we would work on completing funding so we could start work on the temporary location and then on the permanent location.
Q. Why do you need $2.5 million to relocate and rebuild TechShop Menlo Park? Could you do it for less?
A. In our experience, it actually takes $3.5 million to build and open a TechShop location in a new city. TechShop San Francisco and TechShop San Jose ended up costing around that much, but because we raised $2.7 million, we had to do additional fundraising as we continued the build-outs. TechShop Menlo Park is already well-established and has a strong member base, and above all it has been profitable for some time. Because of these factors, we can build TechShop Menlo Park for much less than it costs us to build a new TechShop in a given city. Some of the money goes to the "TIs" or "tenant improvements" which is the build out of the walls and floors and ceilings, HVAC and ventilation systems, electrical, natural gas, water, drainage, air, networking, lighting, safety, signage, access control, and all the infrastructure items. Some of the money goes to purchasing the new equipment and supporting supplies and fixtures and furnishings. Some of the money goes to pay for items like tables and chairs, desks, appliances, the front desk, and other such items. We make a lot of these items ourselves with TechShop equipment. There is a lot more than immediately meets the eye that goes into a TechShop facility to make it a delightful place to "build your dreams"!
Please Back This Campaign Right Now By Choosing As Many of the Perks as you Can!
It is only with the generous support of you and everyone else in the TechShop community that we will be able to move and rebuild TechShop Menlo Park for everyone to enjoy.
From the Entire TechShop Family Including Our Members, Our staff, and Our Community...WE THANK YOU!!!
Team on This Campaign: