The concept for HeatSync Labs came out of the desire for a group of Arizona locals to get together and continue working on projects after academic life. We wanted a place to share tools, space, and ideas with fellow hackers and makers. Heavy industrial and electrical equipment, as well as professional computer software can be so costly as to be out of reach for the average student, entrepreneur, or garage tinkerer. The traditional model has been to personally build hobby workshops in seclusion over a period of decades. We don't want to work in seclusion, nor do we want our equipment to sit fallow 90% of the time.
Throughout 2009, we discovered, and in some cases, visited, other notable hacker spaces popping up across the North America (NoiseBridge, Pumping Station: One, NYC Resistor, Hacklab Toronto, and HacDC). The main funding source of everyone we visited was some combination of personal investment, membership dues and classes. The wildly successful spaces were able to buy equipment but most relied on donations and grants for that.
This early research allowed us to understand the constraints and pitfalls associated with our dream. Our ultimate goal became a permanent space of our own. Tools and equipment would follow when our peers saw the work we were doing. To fund our space, utilities, etc. we would have to seek member dues from those who, like us, were committed to our mission. Grants and monetary and equipment donations would be the way we build capital towards specific equipment purchases.
It was important that this private nature not fence us off from our community, however. Outreach would be through our free public biweekly meetings, free workshops, and eventually paid classes. Finally, transparency to our membership, and the community at large would be key.
Organizational Meetings began in May of 2009 aided by national coverage via the Make: Blog. By September the group had elected its board of members and drafted its bylaws. It was during this time we began the 501c3 application process. Following in the footsteps of Pumping Station One and Noisebridge's successful 501c3 applications, we too wanted to seek non profit status as a commitment to our community and pledge for future transparency and openness.
By December we had outgrown our temporary location and took up a tantalizing offer to partner with a local collaborative workspace called Gangplank. Gangplank is building a community of collaboration by offering to individuals and business, for free, temporary workspace, conference space, internet access and more. This partnership brought us the space needed to begin our public outreach mainly through our now expanded bi-monthly public meetings and through a new monthly electronics workshop.
Currently, We are on track with our membership projections and are constantly surprised by the positivity and energy the community has shown for this project. We are using our new community partnerships to approach the local professional technical community and apply for other funding opportunities. Gangplank is only able to offer us temporary workspace. What we will eventual need to flourish will be workshop space where we can maintain professional quality heavy industrial equipment. Because of our space donations we have been cash flow positive since inception and are currently banking money for that eventual move. If no grant or major donations opportunities arise after 3 years we will still have banked enough money and grown our membership enough to be able to safely move under our own power.
From here on out we aim to continue to collect brilliant people and provide the tools necessary to see them grow and prosper. We will provide resources available to our creative community outside of the constraints of an academic, corporate, or state controlled environment. We will nurture a mindset of collaboration and learning among our members and positively impact the community, and the world, at large.