My Dream - Urban Maker Space, New York
Introducing (UMS) Urban Maker Space, New York (Expected Sept 2019)
I’ve been waiting for this moment for months, and today it’s time to share what I’m planning on doing in New York City! I was (and still am) so afraid to share this. Did I do enough? Is anyone interested in a service like this? Am I presenting it right? Despite my fears, it is time! Let’s get into it:
UMS NYC, or Urban Maker Space New York City, is a collaborative workspace for hobbyists and professionals to pursue their passion of ‘making’.
We offer private studios - to fully equipped, shared workspaces. For the first half of this article, I’ll outline what my idea is and why I want to pursue this.The second half I’ll talk more about the business model behind it and how it will work. I’ve been refining and contemplating on the Maker Space concept for the last four months, and I’m proud to be able to share it with you in more detail today. The goal of this article is to clarify:
WHAT UMS New York City is
WHY I want to start a MakerSpace
HOW I’m going to pull this off
Bringing back ‘the creative’ to our cities. Facilitating new ways to Learn and Discover. Creating a different way to interacting with Knowledge and Skills.
I went to school to learn the trade of woodworking; Which I’ve been passionate about for more than a decade. It started when my parents decided to move, back in 2007, from the city of Ghent to a small village in the Belgian countryside. I was 9 years old and had a very tough time adjusting to my new environment: new friends, new house, new school, new life.
School was especially tough for me. Not just because it was new, but also because I just had such a hard time understanding why certain things are the way they are, and why a young kid somehow couldn't change that. I had good grades, most of my teachers and classmates seemed to like me, I had some friends, but something was missing: I wasn't learning. So I dropped-out.
"I wish Louis the best of luck in his home-schooling adventure, and I hope he'll find what he's looking for: A different way of interacting with knowledge and skills, a different way of bringing others wishes and opportunities together." - My 7th Grade Math Teacher
One positive note on my moving experience was the birth of my fascination with the construction process of building our house. I wanted to make too, but how? You need tools, space, knowledge on materials, construction methods, best practices, industry standards, and much more. It’s a lot to figure out, especially if you don’t know anyone who can teach or show you how… I was committed and it took me a decade and lots of mistakes, to get all this figured out. What helped me the most, was to surround myself with other makers who had the experience and knowledge I needed. But they were hard to find, especially because I was so young and I had nobody in my family who could provide me with such contacts. I was also very fortunate to not live in a dense city, but in the countryside where my parents had a small shed I could use to work out of. But not everyone has that privilege, and you might not want to spent more than a decade to get started.
So in short, these are the problems I want to address:
Lack of Physical Space
Expensive and not everyone has access to it (Especially in Cities).
Lack of Skills
And the connections to someone who could show me.
Lack of Machinery/Equipment
Expensive and a high-risk investment
From what I've observed, cities do not leave much opportunity for people to ‘make’, with high real-estate prices and just the general lack of space, leaving an opportunity for UMS to fill this gap.
UMS Products and Services:
Providing you with a ‘space to work’
Providing you with all the ‘tools’ to make
Workshops and Courses
Sharing ‘Knowledge’ and insights
Selling ‘Prototyping’ and ‘Custom Fabrication’ Services
The products/services outlined above are just the start of what I’m planning on doing with the UMS NYC concept. But you’ve got to start somewhere. I have tons of ideas on how to optimize, and cross sell, but I want to nail down these initial, core services first. I have the ambition to scale the UMS model through franchising in the future. I’m fascinated by how franchising has built huge brands and companies in the past, and believe UMS can do the same.
*Pricing mentioned in the sections below are subject to change
PRIVATE WORK STUDIOS
Rentable private studio workspaces, ranging from 8x10 feet (2,5m x 3m) to 12x22 feet (3,7m x 6,7m). These spaces are meant to be yours only, and allow you to work on your own projects 24/7. You are also able to use the ‘common space’ which is equipped with CNC machines, 3D printers and hand-tools.
For people or businesses who have their own equipment but are just looking for a place to work from. Adding the additional benefit of the shared resources our space offers, like the CNC and 3D printing equipment for example.
Your own 24/7 Private Workspace
Also Unlimited access to our Shared Workspace and Equipment
Access to our Online Community
Unlimited access to our CNC and 3D printing equipment
Flexible lease = Month-to-month commitment
Prices starting at $650/Month and up
MONTHLY/DAILY CO-WORKING PASSES
If you’re not ready for the investment of a private studio, you can opt for a Coworking membership. Pick between a monthly or daily option and get to work! The monthly pass will grant you discounts to our workshops (more info below) and you will be added to our online community center.
The daily/monthly passes make it possible for ‘everyone’ who wants to create to do so in a safe, fully equipped environment at a reasonable price-point.
Access to our Shared Workshop Space
(For 24 hours, or 24/7 for Monthly Members)
Unlimited access to our tools and equipment
Access to our Online Community (Monthly Members Only)
Access to our CNC and 3D printing equipment (Limited)
Month-to-month commitment (For Monthly Members)
Monthly Pass: Starts at $225/month and up
Daily Pass: $60/Day (Day passes do not require membership)
Learn first hand how to make basic furniture from our professional members here at Urban MakerSpace New York, and take your workpiece home! And you don't have to be a member, or pay any subscription to join a workshop. Just pay the one-time-fee per workshop.
Workshops organized and led by professionals. People can take their own project home after the half/one-day workshop.
No Membership required
One-Time flat fee
Prices start at $70/person and up
For companies, schools and organizations wanting their employees to stay up-to-date on the latest prototyping, construction techniques. In-depth courses given by professionals from their industry. Courses can take up-to four days and will be certified.
Deep-dives into a certain industry topic like: Advanced framing techniques, or CNC 101 courses, etc.
No Membership required
One-week (4 days) programs
Official Certification Programs
Prices start at $750/person and up
ONLINE COMMUNITY CENTER
An online community hosted on SLACK to stay in touch with every member of our space (past and present) to share thoughts, ideas, future projects, struggles… Access to exclusive events, discounts, etc.
I would love to eventually hire a content creator to film the daily life in our space, show what people are working on, and start a how-to channel online for people outside of our community to enjoy.
Share your projects with all UMS Members
Ask for advice from professionals
Find more information about materials, suppliers…
Included in all memberships (except for day passes)
What can be added later
These are just a few of the ideas I’m planning on implementing into the UMS model within the first two years after launch. They do not require to much capital to setup (compared to the initial investment) but they will require a huge amount of operational and logistical work to be done. Again, feel free to add any/all comments or ideas you have!
STORE (ONLINE AND OFFLINE)
Sell ‘stuff’ made in the space online and offline (on-location store). Create foot traffic in our Maker Space and help makers to retrieve some of their investment.
3D and CNC prototyping services available for everyone. For people who don’t like to do the work themselves.
CUSTOM FABRICATION SERVICES
On-demand building and restoration of Furniture and other projects.
The Business Side of the Business
UMS New York City, is a Property Management company for Industrial Buildings. We provide maker-spaces for individuals and start-ups looking for space and equipment. It is my ambition to scale the UMS model by working out a franchise model to implement maker spaces in dense urban areas in several cities in the United States.
I’m working on a go-to-market strategy, marketing and financial plan, as well as looking for properties, learning about industrially zoned real-estate, NNN leases, liability insurance, payroll expenses and so, sooo many other things I don’t know anything about…
I’ve really been pushing the power of LinkedIn to meet and talk to as many people as possible here in Toronto (where I’m staying whilst I prepare for launching UMS) from various industries: real-estate, marketers, designers, customer success agents, business development professionals, investors, salespeople, urban planners and off course: MAKERS.
Because of legal concerns, there isn’t much more I can tell you right now, but feel free to contact me if you want to know more!
Why I am the right man for the job
Before I conclude, I would just like to outline why I want this project to succeed. It fills a big need in my life from 10 years ago, and it could have saved me from countless costly mistakes I made along the way of learning my trade. While I don’t think making mistakes area bad thing, I do know that without external support, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my ‘maker’ career. Mistakes cost money, and if resources are scarce, you better make as few mistakes as possible.
(December 2013) Dropped-out of School
After a very tumultuous school career that lasted for 14 years, me and my parents decided to make the jump to home-schooling. It was by far the scariest and most influential decision we've ever made, but it got me to where I am today, and I would do it again if I had the chance too.
(January - June 2014) Woodworking Internship
One of the reasons I dropped out, is my passion for woodworking. I wanted to know more. I wanted to get better, and school was just not cutting it for me... So I did an internship with a company called Wood Design, that really taught me the ins-and-outs of the trade. Focusing on interior projects, I constantly trained my eye for detail and efficiency. When entering the construction industry shortly after, this really set me apart.
Related: "My journey to Entrepreneurship"
(September 2014 - March 2015) CEC
A few months after dropping out, I did make the decision to obtain a High-School degree. I went to the Central Exam Commission in my home country, Belgium, and got my degree in Office Administration and Data Analysis six months later. It wasn't something I was terribly excited about, but it did open doors for me. Or at least, kept some doors open for the future.
(April - July 2015) California Tiny House
After getting my High-School degree, I was invited to California. Friends of mine had a second home in a town called Mount Shasta, close to the California-Oregon border. I stayed with them for three months and in exchange, built a Tiny Home for them. I'd never heard of Tiny Houses nor the Tiny House Movement before. But because of my background in Woodworking (Which I've been practicing since I was 9 years old) They gave me a chance to prove that I could do more.
Related: "The California Tiny House"
(January 2016 - February 2017) Tiny House Belgium
Leaving California behind, I started building my own Tiny House in my cousins' backyard. "I had tasted freedom and couldn't let it go". Moving back in with my parents was really not an option for me. Renting an apartment wasn't a great option either, as I wanted to go back to the United States ASAP and didn't want to be stuck to a 12-months' lease.
After posting some of my construction progress on Facebook, National and International press took notice and not much later, I started a company in designing and building Tiny Houses on Wheels.
Related article: "My Tiny House Belgium Journey"
(October 2016 - Present) Content Creator / Web-Developer
Creating content and websites initially for my self, and later also for businesses and brands. I'm still practicing this on the side today, together with talented designers from New York City and writers from Europe and North-America.
Related Article: "My experience after 6 months of being a social media consultant"
(January 2017 - April 2018) New York City
A 9-month trip to New York City made me feel in love with the energy and drive everyone seems to have there. It is my life goal to be around people who I feel are 'smarter' and 'better' than me. It's the only way I have found myself to grow, and New York City seems to be the only place where I've been able to connect with exactly these people.
Related: "I love NYC"
(August 2018 - ...) Property Management Toronto
Recently, I moved to Toronto for a year and I found a job in property management (Which will come in very handy later). I work for a company called CasaDell and manage Airbnb properties in downtown Toronto.
After months-and-months of conceptualizing, I am proud to present what I’m going to do in New York City next year: building a MakerSpace in dense urban areas like New York and others, to enable creatives to create and do. My ambition is to expand this project into a franchise model, to facilitate the trade and creative skills so many of us have in different cities all over the United States.
If you have any tips or suggestions, please feel free to contact me and follow me on social media to follow my journey of making UMS a reality! (Links below)
About Louis De Keyser
Louis is a 20 year old, in the process of moving from Belgium to his dream city, New York. He was the founder and CEO of Tiny House Belgium, a Tiny House Design and Construction company that focused on promoting the idea of 'smaller living' and 'living life without a mortgage'. He sold his business in January 2017 to pursue his dream of moving to North-America. Right now, Louis lives in Toronto Canada.