Saturday, September 27, 2014

What It Takes to Hang a Sign?

What does it take to hang a sign in Waco Texas?  It seems like a clear enough question to answer.  You have a good idea, you put the design down on paper, you send it off to the printers and you hire someone to hang it up...
Ok, so clearly that's not what I really thought.  But I hadn't foreseen the road blocks, misdirections, lack of sleep, endless rewrites, financial pressures and insecurities (and did I mention planetary levels of insomnia?) that come along with a devotion to a great idea.  As I am married to someone who has never met a bad night for sleeping, this has left me much time to ponder the frightening/exciting world of business creation.  
One might think that creation begins with a good idea.  Well, to quote Seth Godin, "Ideas are easy, doing stuff is hard." Having the good idea seems to just be the common point of departure.  Landing with a successfully established business that is profitable,  relevant and community-engaged is what separates the thinkers from the doers. And this motivation cannot be externally driven, one has to pin down exactly what pushes them forward in this inner pursuit to achieve in the tangible what they only glimpse in the unseen.

Wow, well that was a weighty thought.  While I blame the two americanos and way too much alone time, the sentiment does not change: entrepreneurship is not for the weak kneed.  And so here is my story in pictorial representation.
Step 1: A great idea equally grounded in personal conviction and pleasure.
Step 2: Adapting that great idea to personal needs, community ideals, business structures and financial risk. 
Step 3: Risking self enough to engage others smarter than I for a little help.
Step 4: Keeping the vision, even when all the circumstances seem to say its an empty possibility.
Step 5:  Risking everyone and everything for a singular vision and purpose; being "all in".
Conclusion: A celebration of the small triumphs that lead to your small, little slice of victory.

And so began our journey; It started with a good idea but only came to blossom under the commitment to a bigger idea of self.  One that starts with the fundamental conviction that Waco needs an infusion of excitement that is convicted that thinking and doing are essential to the human experience;  and the acceptance that delays, upsets, redos, misdirections and insomnia are really just part of the journey.  So I declare a new theme song for this phase of the journey thanks to American Authors' "Believer".

I'm just a believer
That things will get better
Some can take it or leave it
But I don't wanna let it go

So, in conclusion, what does it take to hang a sign in Waco?  Pretty much everything...and a lot of caffeine.


AND BY THE WAY....Did I mention we started demolition today :)


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Clock is Counting Down

So, you may ask, "What is final?"  Could it be the building? Our signature on the bank's bottom line?The floor plan? The first tool purchase?  Our first scheduled class in our new, awesome membership software?  YES!
Us celebrating at Torchy's Tacos the day we signed!
So, to the most impt:  So many thanks to Mike Beard and all those at First National Bank McGregor (Misti is our new best friend).  They have put their trust in us, and our business plan, and have given us the loan needed to move forward.  With their help, and much prayer, we are happy to official say we can now get to Opening Day!  So, send them a thank you on Twitter or Facebook so they can receive a fair share of the love.

Second most impt (though, Rick might say it's a close second):  The honor of being our first tool purchase goes to the Shapeoko 2!  It is sitting on my front porch as I type, but I'll get there before you.  Maybe we will do an unboxing tomorrow, as our first tool purchase it deserves a special showcasing.  I am more excited about our second purchase, which we get tomorrow.  It's an Industrial Sawstop, because we believe in only the best for your perfectly attached appendages :)  I tell ya, it's more exciting than Christmas.

Thirdly, we have finalized everything with the landlord, have finished plans in hand and wait only for the MEP to give us a lovely copy to take to the city planners for approval.  The floor plan is only minimally changed from the one posted a few weeks ago.  A few sizes have changed and we've taken out the stove.  We are opting instead for inset, stow-able induction burners for craft needs.  There will still be an oven (yea) but taking the stove out solved some issues.

Fourthly, and maybe the most pressing, is we are calling all able-bodied makers to send in a list of classes that they would love to teach in the space.  From beginner to intermediate, we have the tools and space to teach them all.  So if you like to make soap, teach leather crafting, build a birdhouse or weld a sign (and you like to teach :), send us an email.  We have matched the most competitive standard in the industry for pay.  And, we really want this place to be for Waco.  Maker's Edge was created so those who have a desire to teach can find those who are thirsty to learn.  We would love to get your class ideas in our system, start advertising, and give plenty of lead time for students to sign up.  We hope to start offering safety tool tests October 1 (even if doors are not officially open).  But, opening day is really dependent on construction times and the city giving us a Cert of Occupancy.

And for you organizational tool nerds, look up MindBody, our new membership system.  I'm nerding out all the time about it...though, that could be due to the many hours a week I am working on it to get it set up and running by Sep 15.  I will let you all know when it goes live, which will allow you to join, sign up for classes and ask for a one-on-one mentor session with a specific tool expert.

Lastly, if you made it this far, you deserve a prize.  It's been a doozy.  Now that the ball is rolling, these should come faster, and with a little more brevity.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

THE space


So I don't know if you've picked up on it, but we've located THE perfect space. 
Basically, a 70 x 86 ft space begging for us to come and make inside it. I thought I would give you the general layout of the space as is, if you have any grand ideas, shoot me an attachment. But, here is our first go of it:
As you can see,it's laid out with plenty of room for the wood shop, metal works, conference area and workspace. However, I wasn't satisfied with the convoluted entrance area. And, not enough general workshop floor for larger projects.  Next came a shift of the electronics to the front, a separated conference room and lounge and more floor space. However, the large front desk has caused some discussion. I do like the transitional area, dropped down kitchen and large floor space. So it's definitely workable. 
As we discussed that central work area, another thought occurred.  "What about making the projects and people the focus."  We moved the wood shop up, who doesn't love to watch a ShopBot in action?  The kitchen becomes more present than I wanted, but that's forced by a drainage issue. I'm getting closer to happy. 
And we already have our first DIY project picked out for us. The floor has a thin (.5 in) layer of cement coating on it. I think someone tried to float the floor at some time in the past. Well, about half of it is missing now. I've never run a EDCO floor grinder before, but there is nothing like the present to learn. And it has to be easier then the chisel and hammer method we used to remove cement tiling 10 years ago. I wish I could post a picture of that fiasco.  But honestly, no one was in the mood to remember that project when it was all done. Even so, we couldn't believe the cost estimate ($20,000+), and in the spirit of makers everywhere said, "Well, let's try it again...but be a little smarter this time around."
So check out the tool I get to learn now. Not quite like a backhoe (my favorite tool thus far...you can feel the power surging through your vains) but still looks fun:  http://youtu.be/-pB1lgubXNs. And I get to play with an oxyacetylene rig. Don't fret, I'll spread the love around and let you know when it's happening. You can come by and put your hands on some tools with us. I may even take pictures. 




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wow, now it seems to be moving all too fast!

There are a lot of new things happening in the world of Maker's Edge.  My trusted advisor is always warning me that I say too much too soon.  How can that be when it seems that I know so little.  I write this at 12:37 am, though I won't post till the morning. "Why," you may ask. Well, short answer, I can barely operate my auto-correct after two cups of coffee. There is no hope after midnight. Its so late, even my dog won't humor me by staying up. 

We have had a lot of amazing responses to the idea of starting a makerspace in waco. Recently, a banker heard about our plan and referred our idea to a friend. As luck (God) would have it, he owns property and just had the perfect spot open up. So after weeks of looking door to door for a location, one fell into our lap. But after celebrating for three days, the sudden oppression of financials, business planning, and a lack of revenue stream has come crashing down around us. How do I get us to doors open in 90 days when I'm still trying to figure out corporate sales and strategy. 

And so to the joy, as it's more fun to focus on. I am truly excited about the educational opportunities this space will have for Waco.  I think about all of the classes and projects and people, and my energy is rejuvenated. My dream is for people, young and old, to connect their thinking with doing. We were made to be creators, to do work with our hands and make something. And when we create together, our collective possibilities outshine any isolated effort. I imagine a workshop full of soap makers and welders, jewelers and carpenters, CAD designers and robotics teams. It just gets me all tingly inside :)





Monday, March 17, 2014

SXSW Baby!

We just happen to align our spring break trip with this year's SXSW in Austin TX.  Accident???  I think not!  It was an amazing time of meeting with other makers, techies, (and for the kids) gamers. I also got in a little shopping. Check out these neat pendants etched on the back of Scrabble tiles with a laser.
Can you say "Etsey" anybody?

There was also a huge tent sponsored by MAKE, loaded with creative ways to use and reinvent the tools around you. Lydia and I loved the DIY fingernail polish table, but 3D printing and laser cutting was the star. I really enjoyed a booth hosted by Sparkfun https://www.sparkfun.com/. And, my fave spring treat that I love to eat was in attendance tweeting (Peep).  Though, the best pic was us in front of the Tardis. 
And for the gamers among is, check out this little goodie: 

Trust me!  For a little brain nerdvana, click the link to download the trial version of his game. Such a creative user interface, deceptively difficult.  It took me a while to pick it up, but the millennials (my kids) got it, no problem.   Now, my new obsession (besides Munchkins) is Settlers of Catan. I really want to learn. 

And what would life be like if there wasn't a Star Trek version for EVERYTHING!  Love it!


Can't wait to go back!  It was amazing to be surrounded by those who share in the passion of thinking and doing!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Many, many....many pieces

Well, I've been sitting for hours trying to clean up some work on our business plan.  Then, 5 seconds too late, I remember the #1 rule of the modern age..."Save early, save often!"  It is a battle cry at my house.  But alas, we don't always live by our own motto, and I now find myself sullen and counting the many little tiles on the floor of my favorite coffee shop.  I could get back to work, but I feel the need to wallow in my own despair before I put my big girl pants on and get back to work.  So I sit in my chair and contemplate the content of a new blog.

My Brain on business plan writing :p
Things I'm currently working on:  Kickstarter for an initial $500 to pay for incidentals (business cards, IP lawyer, bookkeeping program, TShirts and incidentals); Getting a bank account set up inrw and online; writing a business plan; marketing around the central Texas area; creating and distributing a survey for area educators; and keeping utd on the social media sites we have now.  Clearly, my brain is scrambled most of the time.

So, I have used SurveyMonkey to put together a survey to send out to educators and locals about what they would like to see in a makerspace.  I want to attach this to a kickstarter, so there is an action in place if they would like to help.  But kickstarter needs some type of A/V attached to it to be successful and a business account attached to it.  Amazon is tied in, as that works with Kickstarter.  But Amazon needs a bank account to pay into.  I can't stand Big Banks, so I'm trying to find a local to farm that out, but one that is also online.  In the mean time, I've spent $50 on a local advert at a school to sponsor a team, but had to use a personal check.  My mind is racing with business questions and I'm quite sure the IRS is going to nail me in the future, regardless of how I spent my $50, where the money came from, and they really won't care if my account was properly  approved by Amazon or not.   UGH!!!!

But, I'm greatly excited and energized by our latest community meeting.  We met with a bunch of engineer students at Baylor.  They remind me of why we are doing all of this.  There was excitement, joy and creativity in their minds as they helped us brainstorm some practicals.  I keep quoting Field of Dreams to myself and march towards just building it.  But as any teacher or parent would hammer (rightly) into my mind, laying the groundwork is fundamental to success.  

So it all comes back around to the many tiles on the floor.  At first, I noticed all of the many, little pieces that seem near-impossible to lay in place.  But now I see the fun little patterns as I tilt my head this way and that.  I may be laying little pieces of a grand plan, but I'm striving for the day when the pattern of our hope takes over what we see with our eyes. 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Well, I guess it's a good thing?!?

Oh My Gosh!

So, this phrase is oft overused in our sea of texts and emails.  But in this case, it is totally appropriate.

In the last two weeks we have located a very sweet space, worked on a business plan, signed up for a 2.5 day entrepreneur class at Baylor and had a request for a potential floor plan.  And we celebrated like Dr Woody on Psych when we got verified on Google+.  Who knew that this would be an accomplishment! Also, we currently have a secret agent on deployment scouting out potential interest on Baylor Campus.  It will be fun to get another's input on the parameter and scope of a project like this.  I hear I owe her a glass of wine :)

But enough fun.  We have a few harrowing weeks ahead.  "Why?" you may ask.  Well, we feel a pressing need to get things on paper for potential business partners because they are starting to ask more specific business (financial) questions.  This pressure is good.  But I am constantly reminded of our basic premiss, things always get better when done collaboratively.  And as such, we feel more pressure than ever to start up a meetup or interest meeting with others who may be interested in creating a club that could form the "consultation committee" for the more basic questions.  What equipment should we start with?  What classes should we offer at the start?  How should we market ourselves and to whom?  What layout would best meet our market needs (we're aiming for a 5000 sq ft facility).  And what would be fairly priced membership tiers.

These are the most pressing topics at hand.  I mean, once you get past the ever-pressing topic of funding.  So if you have any answers, we certainly have our ears open.  Right now I am working on a Business plan and trying to incorporate an economic outlook report published by Hankamer in 2013.  In general, it encourages me.  Though, I am one of the unemployed so maybe I shouldn't be.  Not sure yet, but life goes on!