Secure Full/Partial Funding in the US

(Ron Bowes) #1

I am extremely interested in starting a Fab Lab in a city that I will be moving to in about May 2019. I’ve been though a lot of the information about costs for machines, materials, computers, and other equipment, but I didn’t see much information about getting the initial funding (which didn’t surprise me since they are all over the world!).

Since I’m in the USA, I was wondering if anyone has experience with contacting local government / agencies (i.e. The Chamber of Commerce, or the City) to help start with the initial costs. I will probably need to take out a loan, I assume that I should first create an LLC and get the loan through the new company? I also plan the company being a 501 ©(3).

Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated!


(Jean-Luc Pierite) #2

Hi @Ronbowes,

I would start with the Secretary of State’s office for the state where the city is where you would move.

If you are looking to become a 501(c)(3), the first step would be to identify members of a board that will help you strategically plan towards your goals. This could be a group of friends or individuals that you would identify local to where your lab will be.

There are several opportunities for funding through grants and public or private partnerships. Definitely look at ways to present your project to potential investors that would make it more attractive (e.g., uniqueness, range of impact for the community, and diversity and inclusion).

Most importantly, think about what your mission is for your new organization. Make sure it aligns with the overall Fab Charter.

Those are general pointers that I can provide.

(Ron Bowes) #3

Thanks Jean-Luc!

I’m currently working on a business plan and also trying to get my friends to help which will demonstrate what we are doing and why we are wanting to do it. I hadn’t thought about grants, but I’ll definitely look into that tomorrow!

(Terri Willingham) #4

We spent two years trying to secure space, working with local governments across three counties here in the Tampa Bay area. We ultimately had more success with our nonprofit working with a local retail shopping mall undergoing redevelopment into an mixed use city center. After securing your 501c3 status, you may want to look into redevelopment areas or underutilized space in your community. We were able to get an amazingly generous agreement in place with the mall, for about 8000 sq. ft of space and some in-kind support of the mall with respect to programming, assistance to other tenants and providing community engagement opportunities, all of which fit into our mission and goals, as well as the Fab Lab charter. Additionally, the mall is located near a big university, with which we’ve partnered before and are working to partner with on this effort.

Working with existing grants, we’re able to cover the costs of first year space rental, and are putting plans in place for future sustainability through earned income via membership plans, sponsorships, machining and fabrication services and educational and professional development programming.

(Ron Bowes) #5

Thanks for the information Terri.
I have thought about a mall location; especially since I think there is some unused space in it. I wasn’t sure about the noise from the machines and if it would be possible to have vents for paint and welding stations… Another concern was people bringing in their projects through the stores. I will have to look into it again though.

I’m going to a Startup Weekend Convention this weekend in Northwest Arkansas, so I will definitely remember to keep your post and comments in mind.

(Terri Willingham) #6

Hi Ron,
We’re taking our noisy equipment to the back of the mall space, back where storage used to be. We’re lucky to have easy back door access, which is something you might want to look into a different malls or retail spaces. Some open into back hallway spaces that lead out to parking lots and others, like ours, open directly into parking lots, which is handy.

University Mall, where we are, is managed by RD Management, which has retail spaces nationwide. If you can find one of their facilities that they’re repurposing, they’d probably be happy to work with you.

Happy to stay connected and help as able from here. Good luck with everything!