TechShop shuts down all U.S. locations, declares bankruptcy

By on November 18, 2017
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Making requires curiosity, creativity, and courage. Makers are people who think critically in order to find solutions to difficult problems. Finding the right solution, however, takes a lot of wrong prototypes. Only through this iterative process do we find the best path forward. This is true of both products and business models.

As a company, TechShop has gone through many iterations. We have grown from one location in Menlo Park to 10 locations across the US and 4 Internationally. We have tested new ideas through community engagement, education, youth programs, and business innovation with partners large and small. We have furthered the impact of the Maker Movement, guided the creation of more makerspaces, and launched countless individual enterprises.

Now, however, we are bringing this final iteration of the company to a close.

TechShop’s vision was to develop a network of makerspaces, members, curriculum, standards, instructors, and learning that would fuel the birth of new technologies, products, jobs, and companies.

TechShop attracted artists, artisans, engineers, designers, and creatives of all ages and skill levels. The combination of left- and right-brain types created a special kind of magic—it was a unique space where new projects and ideas were fostered and cross-pollination was the norm.

Many success projects were born there: Embrace Infant Warmer, Oru Kayak, DODOcase, Lumio, Type A Machine, abiliLife.

So why did they close?

In spite of many months of effort to restructure the company’s debt and raise new capital to fund our recently announced strategic pivot, we have depleted our funds. We are left with no other options. We’ve worked with members, partners, and  investors to try to turn the ship around. This meant slashing corporate spending, executive pay, and introducing an entirely new business model. But, in the final analysis, it wasn’t enough. It didn’t work.

Membership was usually around $1,000 a year depending on when you bought in — it certainly wasn’t cheap, but it was cheaper than buying any one piece of the bigger equipment yourself. They also handled the maintenance, which, when it comes to many of these massive machines with their piles of proprietary parts, is a money pit in its own right

Jim Newton, Member and Techshop’s Founder, said:

“TechShop was a grand experiment that touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people…

I’m very proud of what my team and I did to build TechShop. I’m very sad that we were not able to make TechShop into a sustainable business. It is my prayer that each of the people we touched will take those little sparks they received while they worked on their dreams at TechShop, and turn them into their own grand experiment.”

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