I’m in the process of starting a makerspace in Dursley, Gloucestershire and would like to see how others have gone about setting up.
I’m in contact with Joe from the Swindon Makerspace who has advised me that a CiC might be the way to go, its description seems to be most fitting for what we plan to do, however, the gov website information on how to set up is woolly at best.
I have a few questions on this:
Is a CiC a good fit for a small makerspace, after some searching, Russ posted a diagram that showed setting up a CLG might be a really good way to start.
If a CiC is still the best, what resources have helped you incorporate it? I’m struggling to find a good template or reference for an Asset Lock document
As above, what would be a suitable document to reference regarding a constitution for a small makerspace.
Any advice you’d give in general to someone setting up in the first place?
Thanks in advance for any help.
For Newbury we didn’t bother with CiC, it was a burden we didn’t want to have. Instead we set up a CLG and never looked back, it achieved exactly what we needed. The key things for grant applications are the Articles of Association and your application documents.
Good luck in the start-up!
Thanks for the quick reply, Dursley and the surrounding villages together have a similar population to Newbury and I’m mainly in contact with makerspaces that have set up in big cities, do you think there have been any challenges you faced that someone in a city based makerspace might not have to worry about?
We definitely had a foot-traffic problem, in that being a smaller town (and being in a suburb of that town) we didn’t get passers-by seeing the space and dropping in. We had to work hard on marketing and we attended a LOT of local events (shows, craft fairs, country fairs, town fairs, etc) to get our name out there. This also helped build relationships with the local radio stations, town councils etc which had a measurable effect on our success.
We did luck-out in two ways:
- There was a local charitable trust who were willing to help out financially with the start-up costs. We were still “profitable” within a year.
- Our relationship with the local council helped us find a very reasonably priced ex-council vehicle workshop.
Your start-up group is key. As people visit your space and see your members they will be insired or discouraged by their skills, interests and approach. If you start up with 80% of your members interested in electronics you’ll find that it’ll take a while for those interested in other crafts to get interested.
For this reason I’d work hard in the early days to attend a lot of different events and get a variety of people from different backgrounds. Diversity is good.
Thanks, so far the facebook group I’ve made has attracted nearly 70 members and we have a weekly meeting to discuss what to do next. Thanks to some local facebook groups, we’ve reached over 5000 people in the local area and had at least 500 people view the makerspace page with about 100 showing interest in joining once set up.
As for the start-up group we have a very diverse group with people wanting to do everything from woodworking to sewing and pottery and we’re in contact with a few of the smaller groups that could potentially have a good relationship with the makerspace.
How many members did you have when you first got a space? Our key obstacle once incorporated will be to find a space and whether we want to make a lot of noise and advertise ourselves before we have a space and have interest fall by the time we have found somewhere or whether to work on a space first then bring in the people.
We had 8-12 paying members accruing a start-up pot at the time we started seriously considering real spaces. The key thing here is to get people financially committed as that will give you a good indication of how many ‘real’ members you’ll have. Many people will loosely commit but won’t actually put money in until the space has been running for some time.
Finding the space itself is hard. Sometimes you’ll get lucky but most of the time you won’t. Be ready to call all the local trusts, charities, councils, schools, colleges, etc. Councils are a good resource and shouldn’t be underestimated. Even the smallest councils will have random buildings and sites, any one of which they may have no real use for. Sometimes asking the question will prompt them to think about places they’re using for storage of stuff they no longer need.
Commercial rentals are also viable but they can get REALLY expensive. Sometimes you can find a property awaiting demolition or occupation and can strike an agreement with the owners because they’re still paying business rates and, as a community organisation, you’ll probably qualify for 80% reduction (depending on the council). This is a win-win, however you may have to take on a space that you’d have to leave at 1-month notice.
If you can find something less commercial you’ll do yourself a favour but, again, building a relationship with the councils will help you all around.
Awesome, thanks for all your help, just one final question regarding money at startup, did you have a business bank account for that or did you just entrust the money with a member and if business account, which one did you go for and would you recommend it?
Thanks again for all the help, its been really useful
For the VERY short term we put the money in a bank account in my name (HSBC allow you to create extra current accounts easily) but that’s not a good solution even medium term. As soon as the CLG was created we got a Natwest Community bank account. There are some constraints with these accounts (e.g. you have to go into a branch to do anything at the account level) but they are free long term and the online banking system was perfectly usable.
Thanks for all your help, I’ve gone ahead and made an application to make Dursley Makerspace a CLG, will hopefully know soon enough if its approved. The process was much less daunting than a CiC and we can always convert if it suits us more in future.
A couple of the members have contacts with the local council so we’re approaching them for leads on places.
East Essex Hackspace CIC here. We’re still “just” awaiting our lease from the local council after almost exactly a year, though the end is very much in sight as we’ve just signed the heads of terms in the last four weeks and the final lease is being prepared. We went down the CIC route as being a non profit helped. The new CIC route launched last year took us about 20 minutes to do the paperwork and get it all approved same day. I didn’t see the advice for the CLG, but I don’t think we’ve run into any inherent problems yet.
We used the CIC docs straight from the site. We’ll probably modify them later. We used a local charity some of us were affiliated with, but that will probably change when we get time to something more relevant for the space.
I don’t think we had a constitution.
My advice is to keep your ear to the ground. Someone once told me that if you’re interested in buying an anvil, you slip it into every conversation somehow and eventually you’ll find one. I think the same is about hackspaces. We’re moving into a fairly large cricket pavilion which we’ve paid £7 for 7 years of rent. It’s a big help when you get the local authority on side. You do have to get involved, but remembering that CICs have to be apolitical. I don’t think that necessarily means you can’t get help from your local councillors but dealing with publicity may be hard.
Be aware there’s other organisations doing similar things - you can get them involved. EEH currently is sited in a public park - so we have Junior park run - so we’ve opened our doors to them so they can use the space for toilets and making a cup of tea. We’ve got the U3A (a similar organisation in interests) who use the social space during the week days & help us meet our running costs. We’re also generating links with Remap - a charity that engineers custom solutions for the disabled. All of this will help drive additional members to you.
Jess / Swindon here.
We used the default CiC docs as I recall, which only means adding some short sentences about how you’re a CIC specifically, and deciding who to default the asset lock to. Happy to send you our docs if that’s still useful - pick what seems to work though, as long as you’re not signing your life away (charities have rules!), then you’re fine.
We also started out meeting as a smallish (room for 12 people!) location weekly, so we started our actual CIC with 6 members, and grew from there (currently ~80).
The best suggestion I’ve seen (for the general case), is not to rely to heavily on individuals for long - that is get the company’s own bank account (Barclays Community here), own space (rented by the company, not an individual, also useful if it goes bankrupt) etc. Nothing more annoying than a key member moving elsewhere and the group losing out.
Note that as a membership based organisation, you are obliged to keep an uptodate membership register (or be able to generate one), should anyone ask. (never seen this happen)
Don’t forget GDPR (rules on personal data storage) when storing membership data.
I’m sure there’s more that will occur to me.
I may pop by the Swindon makerspace on Wednesday with Pete E. and potentially others from our end to have a look at your setup. I took the plunge on a simple CLG as we can always change but if you’re happy to send documents, I’ll take the help
I’m quite fond of procedures and documenting stuff so keeping track of members shouldn’t be an issue and we also have someone that has been trained in GDPR procedure so we have that going for us
Thanks for your help and I might see you on the wednesday open night
Thanks for your advice, I do think it will be key to be involved with all sorts of other local communities. We’re in touch with a few already and hoping to keep that list growing as I’ll be meeting with someone tomorrow.
I really like the anvil advice, I’ll be sure to mention the makerspace any time I speak to someone (more than i already do). I’m amazed that you can get 7 years for £7, the cost of renting/finding a place is the most daunting at the moment but your situation gives me a lot of hope.
Thanks for your help )
Lots of council buildings unused out there, it’s finding them that’s tough, then getting the council to do something. I won’t deny it does help to do it in a turbulent election period.
Sounds good! Hope to see you visit on a Wednesday.
I stumbled upon this thread after thinking about trying to set something up in Stroud. Be great to hear how progress is going for you, especially with that whole pandemic thing going on
I’d be interested to join the facebook group you mentioned and get involved but couldn’t find it earlier if you can share a link?