Maker Village KC wins a sweet $10k from AltCap Your Biz
When they bought their building in 2013 was dark and did not have plumbing so Nick Ward-Bopp and Sam Green Co-Founders of Maker VIllage KC fixed it up.
Nick Ward Bopp, Co-Founder of Maker Village KC remembers the grueling process. “When we bought the building there was no power, there was no water. The water had been shut off. The transformer had been taken off the pole. There was no electrical panel. The place was just full of literal junk, turned over engines, dolls, old moldy wood, just full of junk. We started cleaning it out and took off all the plaster, dropped the ceilings. We filled up like four roll off dumpsters, like 60-70 tons of just debris.” Nick recalled.
But that was just the beginning, their company, Maker Village KC was born during the two years spent cleaning and beautifying the space.
“We are self-funded I guess you could say. It’s kind of a slow growth, low debt model, which means things don’t happen overnight. We’re doing it a little differently, so that makes for tough decisions on what is a priority. That obstacle also helps us be more intentional about what we do.” Said Nick.
They first learned about AltCap from a neighboring building owner who had received a facade improvement loan, and they applied for one too. Maker Village KC then entered the AltCap Your Biz Competition and won in 2017, receiving a cash prize as well as technical assistance and mentoring.
Nick recounted, “Those options don’t exist with a traditional bank, even SBA. If they do have grants, they are few and far between. It would be a lot more paperwork and potentially push us in a direction that we don’t want to go. This worked perfectly because we weren’t changing the direction of the organization to just meet the guidelines of a grant. We’re lucky it happened to fit really nicely.”
Maker Village KC is using the prize money to purchase more equipment for the shop: a safer soft-stop saw, an industrial sewing machine, a spray booth, and a 3D printer. They are also upgrading their website to allow them to offer memberships and online scheduling. The ultimate, though, goal is to create a sense of community.
“Our business is not secondary to what’s going on in the neighborhood, but we plan on being here a really long time. It’s a long-term goal for us to make change, and hopefully not change with displacement.” Stated Nick.
Maker Village KC offers introductory classes for people of all ages to learn woodworking and metalworking. You can also drop in during open studio every Saturday to use their equipment.