TechShop: Geek Heaven

What an absolutely brilliant idea.

Guy Kawasaki: Jim Newton founded TechShop in the summer of 2006 because he needed a world-class workshop so he could work on his projects and inventions. After having access to full machine shops at both the College of San Mateo when he taught a BattleBots class and at the studio set of the Discovery Channel’s MythBusters show when he was the science advisor, he found himself without a place to work on his projects after these positions. He was surprised to find that there were not any places like TechShop already, so he decided that he would open one himself.

TechShop provides its members with a huge variety of tools, machines, and equipment in a 15,000 square-foot workshop environment. The equipment at TechShop is not likely to appear in the hobbyist’s home workshop. The range of tools and equipment covers machining, sheet metal, welding, casting, laser cutters, rapid prototyping, CAD, CNC equipment, electronics, sewing, automotive, plastics, composites, and lots more.

Membership is modeled after a fitness center, and several levels of membership are available. There are currently approximately 350 monthly, yearly, corporate, and lifetime members. The facility can handle around fifty members at a time, so TechShop have set the membership cap at 500 members so the shop and workspace does not get over-crowded. There are only about 150 membership slots available until membership is full. The hours of operation for TechShop are currently 9 AM to midnight, 7 days a week. Jim tells me that they plan to open 24×7 when they reach the membership cap of 500 in the next month or two.

There are shared bins full of bits and bobs from your shed and everyone else’s shed, much akin to the wall of (useful!) crap Jamie Hyneman is famous for. The tool racks grow when people bring in their own, and appear not to shrink as you’d expect. There’s a 3D printer, a powder coater, a laser cutter, punches, lathes, sandblasters, test benches, plasma cutters, everything the uber nerd or plain old home hobbyist could need. And they run open classes, for thirty bucks and hour — a good price from both standpoints imo.

This should be franchised, all over the world. I want one in Cork. All you need to do to make is perfect for me is add a few ramps and a few other bits of automotive equipment, so I can pretend I’m Chip Foose. I’d have to be dragged out of the place kicking and screaming, like a child being extracted from a playground.


3 responses

  1. That is fairly amazing. They’re selling a year’s membership at the moment for $1100 – less than €800. That’s only a little bit more than your average gym in Ireland. I like how they plan to open 24×7, just in case you get a great idea at 3am.

    I would love to have a local Techshop, but the likelihood of anything like this ever springing up in Cork would be fairly slim. It’s interesting that they’re capping the membership at 500 – you would think that Cork has nearly got the population to match that, certainly we could get 250 members for a half Techshop, but just think of all the hassle we’d have here with insurance and health & safety. For one thing, you’d need probably need a safe pass and a hard hat just to get near the lathe.

  2. T had the same thought, also citing insurance plus Cork’s notoriety as the “compo capital”. However our compensation culture is essentially learned from the US, and I’m pretty sure TechShop has to pay insurance too, possibly the same as us by the time you weigh their even worse compensation culture against our high costs of… well, everything.

    This baby needs to be franchised, quick.