Spark Makerspace is a new space for creatives and makers in southeastern CT.
Do you like to tinker & make things and want to play with big toys like 3D printers, CNC machines, and drill presses?
Or do you want to make things with your hands but don’t know how and aren’t sure where to get started??
Or maybe you are more the type who likes to make things happen?!?
Spark Makerspace is a new organization in southeastern CT designed to make it easy for people to make, learn, play together, and make things happen in our community.
We are forming as a nonprofit organization in which members cooperatively share tools, workspaces, office & meeting space, and retail storefront space to sell creations in downtown New London.
Many people are already involved in the work of building out two spaces in downtown New London that have a woodshop, commercial kitchen, 3D printers & electronics, sewing machines, printmaking, CNC machines, laser cutters, digital media lab, office space, reservable conference and event space, and more.
Spark is using Kickstarter to sign up members, raise money for start-up costs, and get the word out to attract donations of tools and equipment to form the different workstations.
Check out our wish list here or drop into the makerspace at 86 Golden St. (the old El N Gee!) between 12 - 5pm Monday through Saturday. Or lend a hand during workdays on Saturdays between 12 - 5pm.
Membership will begin in March but we are ready now for more people to lend a hand in developing this community space!
How does Spark work??
Spark is member-led and staff supported. At the individual level, Spark is comprised of Working Members and General (non-working) Members who pay monthly dues to use the spaces and workstations within the community.
Working Members pay less ($30 / month) in exchange for doing something helpful over the course of each month--teaching a class, working a reception or retail shift, or helping with a community project.
General Members pay $55 / month to use the spaces with no obligation to work.
Spark Makerspace is for everybody and everything!
Spark will also have membership classes for businesses, nonprofits, and anchor institutions after getting up and running with individual members who share an understanding of Spark as more than just a gym-like space in which people access tools.
Spark is designed to ignite community & the economy
Spark is specifically designed to polish and grow the identity of New London and the wider Southeastern CT area as a center for arts, culture, and manufacturing.
We want Spark to work like a community center in which people get to know their neighbors, so a majority of classes are led by Working Members sharing knowledge based on their expertise.
A strong cultural drive to improve New London and beyond will seed community projects that utilize Spark infrastructure and Working Members to make awesome things happen. The entrepreneurs among us will find ways to turn some of these awesome things into profitable businesses.
Spark represents the cutting edge of the sharing economy movement
Part of the Spark vision is to grow into a cooperative that starts other cooperative endeavors so that some of our shared projects become social enterprise businesses. This dynamic will generate economic opportunities for Members and will also become part of the income that supports Spark’s operational costs.
Spark has the potential to be a grassroots incubator--nothing like this exists in the area!!
Spark is excited to be part of CTNEXT Partners, a state-funded program dedicated to jumpstarting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Connecticut. CTNEXT has provided $20,000 in seed capital for Spark. This money has been supplemented by donations from individuals in the community to develop the Spark business and secure great downtown locations so that we are now ready to sign up members.
The operational costs of Spark without staff will be at least $7k per month.
Our goal for this campaign is to raise two months worth of operating costs to buy time while we talk with other funders.
If we exceed this goal and validate local demand for a space like Spark we will be able to stretch in to additional goals, like moving upstairs into the 2nd floor of the El n Gee makerspace building to add an additional 3,500 square feet of space for making and making things happen!
Risks and challenges
Starting at this scale and scope is risky but also highly rewardy.
((We just made this word up, but don’t you think it should exist?))
The most pressing concern for Spark is getting the funds we need to survive and thrive.
We estimate that our annual costs could be around $300,000. Over time we believe that internal business development will bring in more than enough to supplement income from membership and classes. But in the first year or two Spark will need community support as a bridge to get to financial sustainability.
A primary way Spark will keep costs down is by coordinating the efforts of Working Members to do some work that in most other organizations is done by paid staff. For our business model to work we need to grow into having hundreds of members.
A related challenge is acquiring needed donations of tools, equipment, furniture, etc. to form the basis of each workstation at Spark that are of high quality. We want to not buy new if we don’t have to for financial and environmental reasons, but we are also committed to creating phenomenal spaces with a cohesive feel.
A challenge to any entity in start-up is estimating timeline. It is our expectation that we will open in March and build toward a grand opening ribbon cutting in early Spring. We are definitely hopeful, but we cannot guarantee this.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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