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Shared Engineering Facility Build Ideas/Mississippi

04/12/2017 5:48 PM

Thanks for reading this post. I'm developing a shared workspace in southern Mississippi for people with ideas who need workspace in which to develop them. I'm a property developer and not an engineer by trade, so I would like to solicit input from the engineering community about what facilities would be suitable. After a few brain-storming sessions, we decided to go straight to the source. Would things like 3D printers, CAD system access etc. be valuable for a monthly access fee? What other facilities would be most valuable?

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#1

Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/12/2017 7:58 PM

Welcome to CR4

Would things like 3D printers, CAD system access etc. be valuable for a monthly access fee?

It's kinda of a niche market, depending what disciplines you want to cater to. Are you thinking like a machine shop, electrical and controls, civil engineering etc. There's a lot of fields to cover. There could be a market for a shop like you want to put together depending on what the fees are. Most people that have an idea don't necessarily have the financial backing to afford renting space to bring their idea to fruit, so generally it's done in their garage or they sell their soul to the company they work for.

And if their idea is a $million dollar design, they would be on the dumb end of the stick to put their idea on someone else's computer.

As a foot note; most engineer's don't get along with "bean counters".

I'm not saying there isn't a market for your idea, but could be a bottomless pit your throwing money into.

This is only my personal opinion.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/12/2017 8:28 PM

Thank you for your input! I couldn't possibly fit every piece of machinery that one would want into a facility, but I'm hoping for a consensus of most popular ones. Rentable 3D printer time and CAD facilities are the two options that seem popular so far.

The goal is to create a facility where people with ideas can be brought together with people who can help bring those ideas to the marketplace and people with the investible capital to do so.

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#3

Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/12/2017 8:35 PM

Protected floor space with electricity and wifi available is a common need among builders and hobbyists...If you could provide that, it would be great....Most raw materials can be scavenged....Once you have established a group of users, then the requests for things can be entertained....like torches, table saws, kilns, work tables, easels, and other handtools....metalworking equipment takes it to a new level....It would be great just to have a garage with a lift to work on your own car...One of the most important commodities is experience and proper guidance, a lot of people think they have an original idea that they want to develop and build but don't realize it already exists, we get that all the time here, so you need a good sounding board to bounce the ideas off and then offer direction and guidance...That can all be had over the internet...There should be a community organization that takes on projects around the neighborhood, this gives people with nothing to do, something to do....So this way you have a large resource of people that you could draw on for larger projects, and a way for people with little resources a way to acquire floor space and materials for their own projects....Good luck, I think it's a great idea....

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/12/2017 8:50 PM

Thank you for the response. I will post elevations and schematics as we go. Input is always welcome.

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#5
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Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/12/2017 9:40 PM

Is this a 'for profit', 'nonprofit' or charitable endeavor?

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/12/2017 10:33 PM

Its for profit. Facility access will be sold on a membership basis and will be a shared workspace style complex with a focus on technical start-ups. We have investors in our network that can assist with scaling and monetizing. Our thesis here is that there isn't much of a bridge between ideas and money here in the south. Our belief is that we can build that bridge.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/12/2017 11:47 PM

Sounds like sort of a "Shark Tank" preschool facility....So this isn't a grass roots incubator for fostering forward thinking products, but more of a if you think you have a good idea we'll take your money, and if it turns out to be a good idea we'll shark tank you....

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/13/2017 9:24 AM

Well it's definitely not an incubator. It's a privately funded facility in which we hope to provide access to technologies that would be inaccessible to most individuals for a monthly fee.

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#9
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Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/13/2017 6:48 PM

My first thought in post #1 was a "Shark Tank"

If you have the funding then you shouldn't limit yourself to one geographical location. Maybe franchise your idea, there's a lot of people with ideas world wide that may not want to rent space in Southern Mississippi, but closer to their home.

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Shared engineering facility build ideas/Mississippi

04/13/2017 8:30 PM

Rather than an ongoing monthly fee, you might want to cater to one-time or occasional users, say by an hourly charge.

I have heard of rental workshops equipped with various woodworking or other tools, but I don't know how widely the concept has spread. They might have some safety issues that you wouldn't necessarily face.

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#11

Re: Shared Engineering Facility Build Ideas/Mississippi

04/13/2017 11:59 PM

Nobody's mentioned it, but be sure that what ever structure/facility you plan is in compliance with applicable building and zoning codes.

Very often these mundane requirements are not considered by "idea people".

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#12

Re: Shared Engineering Facility Build Ideas/Mississippi

04/14/2017 11:01 AM

I've been involved with two of these startups in PDX, TechShop and Village Industrial Arts Studio. Both went belly up for financial reasons, philosophical differences and poor management.

TechShop was managed by an individual who kept things pretty much to himself. He rented an oversized and expensive space and attempted to operate on a membership basis. He needed 850 members to break even, but never reached 200. He did about $100,000 in improvements which he never paid for and in the end was soliciting investor money which he immediately rolled into monthly operating expenses.

VIAS was operated by partners who ended up disagreeing over just about everything. One partner was running classes listed with the local community college. The other partner kept planning classes, but never running any. The non-class running partner set up a go-fund-me page, but never fulfilled on his rewards. The non-class-running partner finally found an investor and collectively ran the class-running partner out of the business. The investor ended up taking all the VIAS owned equipment as compensation for his investment and the operation just kind of blew away with the wind.

Get a good, sensible business plan before you enter into anything like this and vet the management for workability as a team. Make things transparent and take your time.

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