Update, Dec. 1: In an email to members, Protohaven announced that it secured a Wilkinsburg location: 214 N Trenton Ave.
To launch fundraising, Protohaven plans to do what its members did when starting their businesses — start with grassroots efforts.
On Monday, roughly 50 people attended a fundraising launch for the nonprofit maker space poised to replace TechShop. Although the meeting at KerfCase Studio was planned before TechShop’s abrupt closing Wednesday, the lack of tools and space added urgency to the meeting.
“We’re now without a shop,” Protohaven Co-Founder Devin Montgomery told the group. “We don’t want to wait too long. … [We] have to find a way to move forward now.”
But, he said, Protohaven doesn’t need all of its funds upfront. Instead, the plan is to start small, getting members before a building.
As for its first goal, Montgomery said: “What I’m asking is for 250 people to take an $85 bet this month and take that same bet next month.”
Protohaven will rely heavily, if not completely, on TechShop’s former members. As of Monday, the nonprofit had more than 100 founding members who’ve donated at least $30. As of this summer, TechShop had between 400 and 500 members, per staff.
With 250 general members, Protohaven would likely be able to secure a space by the end of the year and be in and using it, with minimal equipment, in January 2018, he said, adding that the nonprofit is looking at several locations, including in Wilkinsburg.
Memberships and donations are open on the Protohaven website. It plans to offer income-based discounts and memberships at different levels based on the time someone spends in the shop, Montgomery said.
The new nonprofit, according to its website, will have four major differences from TechShop: a civic and inclusive focus, equipment that matches makers’ needs, more private workspace and storage, and more advanced classes.