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Author Topic: Startup Dayz  (Read 3846 times)

tetsuharu

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Startup Dayz
« on: May 07, 2012, 02:19:54 PM »
FamiLab Startup Culture!!!
Almost every time we're at the lab during the day, someone shows up, and eventually we realize we're all entrepreneurs. Most of us have started within the last few months, but some folks, like Les, Lance, and JohnSoucy, have been in the game for years and have tons of advice and support to offer.
I know of 5 RECENT startup companies just from lab members alone!
I realize downtown Orlando and UCF already does a ton to support startup culture, but I think we have something unique to offer. For one, their communities are sort of insular. They manage to accomplish a lot more than we have so far, but it's still many of the same people. In contrast, our lab is so open most of us don't even know all of the members :). In a way, that's a good thing! We can inspire people outside of our traditional groups to start companies, provide support, guidance, community, etc, and add to the existing startup culture in ORL.


What I think we can do about this:
Coworking: Urban Rethink has a specific membership level of $108 for the 'coworking' membership. I'd like some formalization of the coworking culture at FamiLab, maybe not a new dues level, but an extra bullet point to the Maker level membership? Working space is often a struggle for startups, and
Coworking Days! People do coworking days at coffee shops and book stores downtown all the time.  I wouldn't mind some nose-to-the-grindstone coworking buddies :).
FamiLab.org: A section on the website for FamiLab's startup culture. I want to write a blog post about FamiLab's Startup Days, but I am honestly just too busy with all my client work! :D
Startup Days! There's probably also room for a general startup meetup group. There are already startup and entrepreneur groups in Orlando, but many of them are on the business end of the stick. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but personally I want to see more socially awkward hackers stretching themselves and learning to change the world :). Who better to reach out to the lonely hackers of CFL than us!


It's time to finally admit it
Central Florida IS a Tech Startup hub. There's no doubting it any longer.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 02:23:20 PM by tetsuharu »

tetsuharu

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2012, 02:26:31 PM »
Also, for anyone who's not sure if they'll be able to make it on their own, that maybe there's not enough business in Florida...

We started our consultancy, LevelSetLabs LLC, at the beginning of April. We are currently getting more webdev work than we can handle! I could use a good team of freelance developers to pass work off to! I left formal employment with $2k in my bank account, honestly just one paycheck, and I've done fine so far!

If you like long nights, lots of caffeine, staring at LCDs for hours, unsecured but hefty paychecks, and building experiences in your life that you will never forget, for the love of Celestia join us!!
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 02:30:25 PM by tetsuharu »

Katalysator

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2012, 02:51:34 PM »
This post makes me so happy! If we work with one another and help one another dot all the i's and cross all the t's, we can help one another grow and avoid the pitfalls that some of us may have experienced. What are the other five FamiLAB startups? I know Ted and I have started Greater Automation, LLC , another consultancy. We're still laying the foundation and definitely aren't ready to ditch the day jobs yet, and also have no client base yet. I love the idea of a startup culture : )

tetsuharu

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2012, 03:06:50 PM »
Recent Startups I know about:

LevelSetLabs: Scott & I
Greater Automation: You & Ted
WhiteHotLogic: Dustin
JohnBentCope has gotten some client work and is starting a design co with an old friend of his
Amiller has a consultancy S Corp that I know of
there are more, i just forgot the details.


Startups that have been around for at least a couple years:

Tawlk: Lance & others
Connecticut Metal Gauges: John Soucy (super cool industrial fab stuff, it's like an episode of "How It's Made")
Gagdget Emporium: Dave Casey (also some kind of production company?)
Dave Woods is a freakin' inventor! this is probably nothing new to him :p
Brooks Zurn works with her father in a small-ish company building scientific research tools (cool stuff!)

If you have a startup and are a lab member, post about it!
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 06:27:23 PM by tetsuharu »

Swinden Von Fappergiest

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2012, 06:38:10 PM »
I love the idea of getting more people in the lab during the day dedicating their time to work. It is nice to have a place to do work that is away from the distraction of video games  and yard work, it is also nice to have people to bounce ideas off of.

DWoodsTEC

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 09:42:20 PM »
The FamiLab space is way under utilized.  While I was under the impression the purpose of FamiLab was mostly to explore and learn and share ideas I always felt there is a huge opportunity for this to make money if it was organized properly.  Our mission statement does not include startup incubating.
 
I have been working in the space (making repairs and such) on several of the weekdays and noticed a completely empty space.  Membership has not grown to the point of supporting the space without subsidy yet.
 
There are a number of people who are in the throws of building a new business but they are not to the point of having their own office yet.  FamiLab has an office which is unused.  It also has need of a "lab manager" to maintain some sort of organization.  That is not a full time job yet.  If there was someone or, several people, who based themselves in the space on some sort of schedule they could serve double duty.  Work on their project/business and serve as a lab manager.  To be sure there are a lot of details to be worked out.
 
One thought is allowing small scale manufacturing by members.  The concept would be: members could contract with the public for small runs of whatever they are producing.  It could be produced using FamiLab facilities and possibly members.  The members would be paid a negotiated amount and a cut of the revenue would be turned over to Familab.  This could only work on a limited basis since we would not want to tie up the resources to the point the members would be limited on using them.  Definitely a bunch of issues.
 
If FamiLab starts to be a startup supporter it will likely need more office space.  And at some point dedicated office space.  Then comes the parking issue.  It makes me wonder if the 4000 sf is large enough.
 
There has been talk of remodeling.  I might suggest that discussion be put on hold until after the OMMF.  That could have a significant impact on membership.  It could be another space is in our future.
 
At any rate I agree there is plenty of reason to discuss the possibility of supporting startups.  After all FamiLab is located in Longwood Development Center.
 
Please bear in mind this is just some thinking out loud.  What are the possibilities?
Dave Woods

Real inventors turn ideas into products in the market.

Catastrophic

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2012, 10:25:05 PM »
I was discussing this very point with Bob while were working on the car the other night.  We were talking of the expected huge attendance at the Faire and the certain-but-unknown-number of new members that we will gain because of our exposure there.  There is no doubt that there are legions of people right here in the greater Orlando metropolis that would be a part of this space but do not know we exist.  That will all change on May 26, and I think that it would behoove us to begin working up a plan for FamiLAB 3.0.  Remember what the space looked like at the most recent open house?  It was crawling with people, I've never seen it so packed.  An awesome sight, to be sure, but if a crowd that size becomes a regularity then we are never going to get anything done in our current location.  It will be just too small and crowded to work in and I believe that ultimately this will prove to be the primary factor in limiting our growth for the future.


The place we have now is great and has a large number of things going for it, the landlord topping the list.  But it also suffers from a need for renovation, an upstairs that is unusable, a restrictive electrical service if we ever want to put in any sort of industrial-grade machine in there, etc.  All fixable, but I believe Dave is correct in suggesting that we hold off on any sort of improvements/renovations until we see just what kind of crowd is going to beat a path to our door starting May 27th.  I personally believe it will be beyond any of our expectations, and if we want to parlay that boon into turning FamiLAB into the uber-workshop/teaching facility that we all ultimately hope for then we need to be ready to make some changes to keep all these new members.


I am also frequently in the space during weekdays, as a motion picture freelancer I tend to have odd and occasional work schedules.  I sometimes see Tom in there and our new member Becka (sp?), but usually it's just me and my good friend Mr. Bandsaw.  I don't usually mind because I can crank the Rush and Led Zep to my heart's content, but I can attest to Dave's statement that the space is severely underutilized.  That being said, my previous mention of a large influx of new members is not going to alleviate that problem, merely create a new one...

willasaywhat

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012, 11:18:26 PM »
Quote
Our mission statement does not include startup incubating.


I think this is the key statement. I don't want to see the lab turn into a place where people come to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a mission, I don't want to do that.

Aberro

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2012, 11:29:32 PM »
I have an issue with this concept because I feel that there's a high risk of people coming in with some sense of entitlement. If we open ourselves to startups and coworkers specifically, we're validating them as having a specific place in the lab and that's awesome, but because they are inherently better organized than the other labfolk who are there to learn and do cool things, they may very easily shut others out. I don't want FamiLAB to become a bunch of business types telling me I'm not allowed to do something because they have higher authority.
STRANDBEEST.

digitalman2112

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2012, 12:30:43 AM »
"FamiLAB is a community that fosters learning and creativity through hands-on projects, collaboration, and the sharing of skills & tools to improve ourselves and enrich the world around us."

From my perspective, our mission does not preclude making money, having a startup inside FamiLAB, or even running an incubator (which is different than being a VC). Those activities can take place if we choose. I'm a fan of having enough money to be able to do the things we think are worthwhile, enough space (and availability of space) to house the community and the tools, and helping the people that we want to be able to help in the way that we want to be able to help them.

I'd like nothing more than to have a successful startup come from the community at FamiLAB. It would demonstrate the strength of our community, the technical knowledge, the innovation, [add more buzzwords here].

I'd hope that a few people that met or worked together in the lab, realized they'd like to do something new, do it together, etc. Hopefully the idea came one late night at the lab and makes for a great story later once they are successful.

In the beginning, this startup activity is no burden to the other members - space is not infringed, resources are not consumed (or are consumed at a level no more than a typical member) there is no extra cost to the other members, etc. Life is good.

Now, at some point this startup begins to need dedicated space / more space / more resources and begins to displace other members. Life is not so good here, people are getting grumpy, and we realize something needs to give. This is when we would need to decide if we had an incubation program that provided these things under the umbrella of "improving our community", etc. We'd discuss this just like any other proposal or item that would add cost or take significant resources. Depending on the startup, the people, and the impact on the FamiLAB community, I could go either way. I'd also suggest to them that it might be time to move into one of 12 UCF incubation centers around Central Florida designed just for that activity.

In abstract, I don't think we are an incubator - I don't think we exist solely for the purpose of growing startups - however, I can see how specific examples of incubation (likely those where startups grew from within) might qualify within our mission. (Please see NYResistor and Makerbot) Don't be afraid to let things grow organically, just realize that at some point it stops working, and we will need to address it.

tl;dr - Ian's opinion-  Do whatcha like, keep it legal, be excellent to one another, don't consume resources outside that of a normal member and life is good. I'd love to hang with the startup guys and share my perspective - maybe I can help in some way - and I bet I could learn a thing or two from them...that's why I'm here...



DWoodsTEC

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2012, 10:01:34 AM »
I just got word that someone thought I was upset about something.  This is not the case.  First and formost FamiLab is FamiLab.  It is a self governing and operating entity and subject to its own rules.  As the landlord and a member I struggle with false excess authority.  As far as FamiLab is concerned I am a member just like everyone else and my statements carry no more clout than the latest newbie.  My ideas are simply ideas just like everyone elses.  If I need to make a statement as the landlord I will make it very clear I am doing so.
 
As the Landlord I am not controlling your business.  :)
 
Now as a member I would like to mention a few other items about startups.  As VP of the Inventors Council of Central Florida I interact with many people who are starting and want to start businesses.  ICCF helps along those lines by pointing those people to organizations geared directly toward business startups.  Three organizations come immediately to mind:

SCORE - http://orlando.score.org/chapters/orlando-score - This is an organization of business folk who help new businesses understand the business processs.  They provide mentoring, classes, seminars, and business tools to help get you going.  They are co-located with the:
 
National Entrepreneur Center - http://www.nationalec.org/ - Located in Orlando Fashion Square Mall this is a hub of business support groups including seemingly every type of chamber of commerce in existence.
 
UCF Business Incubation Program - http://www.incubator.ucf.edu/ - They have offices scattered all over Central Florida and provide physical offices for new businesses at incredibly low prices.  The caviat is you must participate in their mentoring and training program which is included in the cost of the office.  If you are serious about starting a business you need to check this out.
 
and finally,
Inventors Council of Central Florida - www.InventorsCouncilCentralFla.us - With all the inquisitive talented minds in FamiLab it is possible someone might come up with something which should be patented or developed in some way.  ICCF has a wealth of information on how to make ideas products.  Most of which can be accessed directly from their website.
 
Oops that 4 resources.  Oh well.  ;D
 
Surely there are more resources but these three have so much to offer it could take a long time to exhaust them.  What they do not have is a workshop/fabrication facility.  This is where I see FamiLab fitting in.  The problem is sorting out how we deal with the "issues" voiced earlier.  I do not believe we have reached the critical mass to make this all happen yet but under the guidance of the myriad talents in FamiLab it could happen.  Notice Ian's statement started with our mission statement.  Let us not forget our mission.  ::)

 
Dave Woods

Real inventors turn ideas into products in the market.

willasaywhat

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2012, 10:22:20 AM »
Dave, I think you're spot on. For one-off prototyping, the lab is perfect. For ongoing space and fabrication needs, not so much. I'd love to see more products built by our members, and I think encouraging that is awesome. What Aberro touched on is what I worry about more than anything. We can't afford to rent space, power, or provide the care and feeding that a real coworking space like Colab can. There's a reason those places charge several times what we do -- they need it to survive and maintain that level of one-on-one service. What we can provide, however, is access to the tools and technology to get excited and make something. :)

digitalman2112

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2012, 11:02:01 AM »
Great discussion...

We can't afford to rent space, power, or provide the care and feeding that a real coworking space like Colab can.

That statement is perfect - and leads me to think: For any program, product or service we might provide, we have to question if that topic provides the personal motivation necessary - since we are all volunteers, we have to have enough people that feel strongly that something MUST happen in order to see it through - I don't think funding alone provides that.

tetsuharu

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2012, 12:13:05 PM »
Thank you all for the wonderful feedback!!!


I'm excited to see all the responses I hoped to see. Thanks DWoods for the links, I will definitely be using those :). Any more local startup resources are very very welcome!


To all the concerns, I am hearing you loud and clear! Taking notes, makin' a little plan. I will make sure startup activities never take precedence over member rights to access of equipment, and that their contributions match their usage of the space (starting at $50 :p).


I'm going to put together a blog post and persistent page for "FamiLab Startup Culture", listing the home-grown companies we have already, providing links to resources for people who are just starting, and links to help them migrate to the other Florida entrepreneurial resources when they outgrow basic FamiLab membership benefits. Soon we can start hosting events and bringing in awesome speakers from rising startups!

After I'm done with my work, of course. Which should be sometime around 4am, hah!


Let's help the thousands of floridian hackers start little hacker companies and rule the 2020's!
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 12:22:29 PM by tetsuharu »

bethjaneway

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Re: Startup Dayz
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2012, 12:50:11 AM »
I'd hope that a few people that met or worked together in the lab, realized they'd like to do something new, do it together, etc. Hopefully the idea came one late night at the lab and makes for a great story later once they are successful.
already happening, several times over :) 

One thought is allowing small scale manufacturing by members.  The concept would be: members could contract with the public for small runs of whatever they are producing.  It could be produced using FamiLab facilities and possibly members.
Like.  Then people (like me) don't have to feel 'guilty' about making cool stuff, that happens to be for work.  For me, work is my fun time :)   

For those worried the lab could be overrun by a new generation of made-in-america micro-manufacturing... by the time you get to -that- level of manufacturing needs, it's more cost-effective to get your own equipment and facility anyway.  IMHO it's probably a moot point. 
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