Makerspaces Mean Business
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Have a Product Idea?
Finally! You’ve found the perfect idea. That one which is going to make it for you, fulfill your dreams, inspire others, and fill your wallet. Great! 🙌
You’ve come down off that euphoric moment, you start to doubt your idea, you realize you don’t have the tools (and possibly the experience) to see it through…
Here’s where makerspaces excel!
Photo by Jason Gessner
What to Think About
As you begin your journey exploring your perfect idea, let’s just take a minute and take a step back. What do you need to consider?
Is your idea practical? Does it solve a problem? Does someone want your solution?
Can you make it? One? Two? How many? What is it made from? Does it work like you think? What kind of tools will you need to make your first version?
How long does it take to make? Do you need tools you don’t have? Do you need training to make it? What would it really cost to make? - Lots of questions.
Makerspaces likely have answers.
Taking steps to ensure that your perfect idea is, in actuality, perfect for others, is critical. If your great idea is just for you, OK, but you won’t make any successful business if this is the case. You’ve got to take the time, and have the resilience, to test your idea with people.
The ‘only’ way to do this is to share the idea, talk with others, get feedback, and make revisions. If you’re too afraid of discussing the idea, you’re too afraid to succeed. Be Brave!
Makerspaces are an ideal place to talk to others about your idea, as they’re already working something -just like you. Makerspaces are filled with people from the community -just like you. And Makerspaces are filled with, you guessed it, ‘makers’ making things -just like you.
These wonderful individuals, these members, have their own unique and sometimes communal aspirations. From my experiences across multiple locations, far more often than naught, makerspace members are not only willing to share perspective and provide feedback, but become actively engaged in your idea with you. They want you to succeed. They want their community to succeed.
Test the practicality of your idea.
Now that you’ve mustered up the courage to get feedback on your idea, met the fabulous and diverse community at the space, and gotten feedback, you should start considering ‘how’ to make your idea a reality. What is the thing you’re making? Can you explain it to others? Are you clearly able to define it?
You’re going to need to be able to define your MVP (Minimum Viable Product). The most basic version of your idea that someone might buy. The better you can define it, the more straightforward pathway you have to make it.
Now you can seriously start considering what materials to use, what equipment you need to make it, and what skills you either need to learn -or find help with. Makerspaces help you judge feasibility with their community, their tools, and their diverse expertise; Take advantage of this feedback.
Determine if your idea is feasible.
Now that you’ve found what you need, time to get started. How? -Well, join of course!
If you’re not already a member and are still curious about makerspaces, most are extremely accessible to beginners, offering introduction courses, intermediate and advanced topical classes, as well as a plethora of workshops.
Makerspaces traditionally act much like a gym, with monthly memberships, access to equipment on either a scheduled or first-come-first-serve basis, and with affordable and expandable rates. Some makerspaces even offer punch-card visitations for those who just need an every-now-and-then experience.
Nowhere else are you likely to get access to such diverse and quality equipment with such support and training opportunities. Nowhere else are you able to get access to a community of makers who are more than likely supportive of your idea and your activities. In short, makerspaces are the perfect place to keep costs down on your MVP, and sometimes your final product.
Makerspaces mean business; your business.
About LIGHTS: Ohio University's Innovation Center founded the LIGHTS (Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability) program in 2016. LIGHTS' Innovation Network catalyzes the creation of companies to create high-wage jobs, and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The Appalachian Regional Commission generously funded the program because of its unique way of matching complex problems and opportunities facing corporations, communities, and individuals to a network of two strategically-placed Innovation Hubs and seven Gateways. New marketable products arise from these problems. The Gateways and Hubs are new business incubators and makerspaces serving a 28-county area.