TechShop Menlo Park, the hardware workshop that was the birthplace of Square, among other inventions, has to move. It has until October 31st to clear out of the building it has leased since its inception. In an email to the community, TechShop founder Jim Newton said, “In spite of our best efforts, negotiations have failed to produce even a short term extension of our lease to early 2014.”
TechShop needs to raise $2.5 million to move and build newer, better facilities. Its goal was to raise this money partially through loans and partially through a $250,000 Indiegogo crowd funding campaign. Its Indiegogo site went live on September 4th, with coverage in Engadget and GigaOM.
But with 17 days left in the campaign, Tech Shop is falling woefully short of its goals and has only raised $6,250. That bare minimum doesn’t even reach what the campaign would have needed to raise daily — $7,143 — to meet its target by September 8th.
It’s ironic that Tech Shop is struggling to crowdfund, given that many of the products built there are financed through Kickstarter or Indiegogo. One such recent one, a laser helmet for growing hair called Theradome, has raised $413,997 of its $50,000 goal. It raised the first $50,000 in 24 hours. Apparently people are willing to pay for products but not necessarily the community from whence those products came.
Tamim Hamid from Theradome credits TechShop with enabling its creation. “We drew our first laser helmet concept at the TechShop (Menlo Park) white board. We put together our first prototype at the TechShop (Menlo Park). We developed all of our manufacturing plans and tools at TechShop (SF). And now we have launched our product with the help of TechShop and its community using crowdfunding,” Hamid says.
Amidst a resurgence in the hardware movement, particularly among startups, Tech Shop has played a key role. Its seven locations have equipment for experimenting, testing, and building a variety of products in wood-ware, plastics, textiles, 3D printing, and metal. For a monthly fee, members have access to all the machinery and classes their hearts could desire. In addition to merchant payment hardware Square, other creations built at TechShop that you might recognize are the foldable Oru-Kayak, the baby-saving blanket Embrace, and GPS fertilizer Solum.
The Menlo Park location is the flagship, original workshop, and as a result, its equipment is older. “In the back of our heads, we’ve always thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to rebuild Tech Shop Menlo Park as nice as all of our other locations?’” Jim Newton said on the phone. Tech Shop will be able to move regardless of whether the Indiegogo campaign is successful, but it might not get the complete facelift that Newton was hoping for.
[Image courtesy: TechShop]