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TechShop is a Lab/Workshop for Innovation -- Inventors, DIY and Makers

TechShop is a community workshop for inventors who need specialized tools and like minded entrepreneur community

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TechShop Provides a Workshop and Community for DIY, Maker Innovation

TechShop is a fully-equipped open-access workshop and creative environment that lets you drop in any time and work on your own projects at your own pace. It is like a health club with tools and equipment instead of exercise equipment...or a Kinko's for geeks.

TechShop was founded in 2006 by Jim Newton, a lifetime maker, veteran BattleBots builder and former MythBuster. TechShop is located in Menlo Park, California, on the San Francisco peninsula 25 miles south of San Francisco.

The atelier occupies a maze-like 15,000-square-foot warehouse near Stanford University. Twelve work tables fill the main space. Rooms are designated individually for activities such as painting, foam molding and neon production.

Anyone can come in and build and make all kinds of things themselves using the TechShop tools, machines and equipment, and draw on the TechShop instructors and experts to help them with their projects.

TechShop is designed for everyone, regardless of their skill level. TechShop is perfect for inventors, "makers", hackers, tinkerers, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, youth groups, FIRST robotic teams, arts and crafts enthusiasts, and anyone else who wants to be able to make things that they dream up but don't have the tools, space or skills.

Access to Technology, Tools and Community for Inventors

By offering affordable access to otherwise out-of-reach tools, TechShop is lowering start-up costs and providing a commons for previously isolated minds. It's a place where "makers" -- as members of the do-it-yourself movement are known -- can make such products as water-cooled stacks of computer servers and remote-controlled robots that do videoconferencing.

It's doing for physical goods what Kinko's did for printed products, said David Pescovitz, a research director at the Institute for the Future, a forecasting group in Menlo Park.

TechShop has the potential to be the service bureau to the inventor community

Since opening in October 2006, TechShop has attracted 300 members, each paying $100 a month for hands-on access to the sophisticated tools. The operation also sells supplies and charges for classes.

Now TechShop is poised to expand. Newton, 45, plans to open 11 additional locations in the coming year. Soon, TechShops may appear in markets as diverse as Austin, Texas; Orlando, Fla.; and Los Angeles.

Newton expects the first Los Angeles location to open in early summer 2009, but they are still looking for a partner in the area.

With franchises on the way, Newton hopes to emulate the bottom-up style of innovation employed by Kinko's. That company's early franchisees came up with signature ideas and that's what TechShop is trying to foster."

Mark Hatch, now with TechShop, was the director of Kinko's $200-million computer services business. Newton has plans to open 50 shops in the next five years. Aside from TechShop's tools, its major asset is the opportunity it gives inventors to mingle.

TechShop is a sign of the maker movement's recent renaissance. Magazines such as Make and ReadyMade promote the DIY ethos. The Maker Faire, a celebration of invention and crafts, drew 65,000 people to the San Mateo Fairgrounds last month.

"We're about selling access to an incredible community of really smart, like-minded people," Newton said.

TechShop LLC
120 Independence Dr
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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