In the heart of Rome, GA’s downtown, Makervillage has crafted a distinctive space — part co-working hub, part event space, part art gallery and soon, part programming bootcamp. What makes Makervillage different than others of its kind is that this spot attract not only startups and tech entrepreneurs, but also artists.
In Makervillage, artists and technologists mingle on and collaborate on a daily basis to bring their respective ideas to life, whether that’s a phone app or their next ceramic project. The 10,000 square feet spot leaves room for plenty of innovation and new ideas. Plus, with a new accelerator and coding school in the works, the space hopes to nurture more leaders in the area.
Hypepotamus talked to Tricia Steele and Pete McPherson of Makervillage about what inspired them to open the space in Rome, the challenges and benefits of merging tech and arts innovation under one roof and how they hope to connect with the Atlanta community.
We first acquired paying customers in 2013 as a project our founding sponsor and we officially incorporated in 2015. It’s been a long iterating process.
What’s Makervillage all about?
We’re a co-work warehouse where artists, entrepreneurs, and startups can gather to work, play, collaborate, and make stuff that matters. Everything needed to go from idea to shipped product, whether digital or physical, is under one roof (and patio), including code school, marketing lab, shipping center, and community art gallery.
What inspired you to open a collaborative space in Rome, GA?
Entrepreneurship knows no borders or boundaries, and we want to provide the option to stay rural for those with the making- and-doing itch. The energy and close connections found within urban areas is undoubtedly what draws business and ideas into bigger cities, but tech is making it easier than ever to do what you want to do from anywhere.
We like our town and want to live here. Creativity abounds, but entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers are often isolated. We wanted to solve that and build a place that celebrates and inspires those underground and seedling businesses.
What’s Makervillage bringing to the city of Rome and beyond?
We bring world-class tools and resources, education, workspace, and connections to small-town residents who would otherwise not have access to them.
We are also solving some local and regional problems. The community has been without an art gallery for several years so we partnered up with the arts organizations to provide them a facility to curate for the public part-time giving our co-workers a beautiful place to work during the day.
We are also solving the skills and recruiting gap that exists in NW Georgia. Coding jobs are in high demand and recruiting even for large, multinational companies is a challenge in the rural area, much less our fledgling tech startups.
So, we are supporting a “grow your own” approach. Working with the computer science resources in the region, we will launch NWGA’s first bootcamp-style programming curriculum, MVP School, that will focus on the education and experience required to build minimum viable products within real companies to solve real problems.
You have a co-working, startup and artisan workspaces under one roof, plus an art gallery and code school. Who do you want to see interacting at the space? How do you hope these communities will merge under your roof?
Makervillage is a place to work alongside other creative and driven human beings, and our goal is to foster new ideas and perspectives on a daily basis, no matter your field or title. We are a place for anyone who creates anything for other people. Simple.
The vision that is quickly becoming reality: In the same day, we might be home to craftsmen honing wood sculptures for placement in large corporations, a floral designer assembling a centerpiece or a pen-and-ink artist making beautiful greeting cards. As those artisans work or pack up goods, they will cross paths with tech startups, developers and designers, or remote workers for companies around the world crunching away on laptops, meeting with a customer, or ideating on white boards. We think that kind of cross-pollination is inspiring.
We made sure to put a big, gorgeous mop sink right out where everyone could see it because we don’t want anyone to forget that creative or entrepreneurial work is sometimes messy.
What kind of services do you offer? What are the benefits of the area for businesses looking to stay at Makervillage?
We offer day and monthly co-working, dedicated startup memberships and artisan memberships. We’re also building out a really cool space to host events, workshops, and programs — all of which exist to enhance the skills and outputs of local entrepreneurs, artists, and small businesses. We also host the Co.Starters Idea Accelerator each year and provide some micro funding through our Maker Fund. Our weekly Office Hours time lets anyone come and talk about an idea or get advice.
What’s your revenue model?
As we’re a non-profit through and through, we rely on member and event revenue, as well as generous organizational sponsors and our founding sponsor, SAI Digital.
How are you connecting this tech-driven community with the Atlanta-based one?
We’re very fortunate to have relationships with our counterparts in the ATL, and we hope to deepen them in the future.
Makervillage will honor memberships from both Switchyards Downtown Club and Atlanta Tech Village, as well as our friends at Augusta Innovation Academy, Four Athens, and Spark Macon. Our members will also enjoy privileges at each of those places. We are hoping for some larger cross pollination between cities in the future.