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AZ Tech Beat | August 23, 2019

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Plasma cutters, 3D printers and Square – TechShop Chandler opens for innovation – slideshow

Plasma cutters, 3D printers and Square – TechShop Chandler opens for innovation – slideshow
Tishin Donkersley

TechShop, a membership-based do-it-yourself workshop and fabrication studio, officially opened its new location in the ASU Chandler Innovation Center over the weekend. I was able to catch up with the founder Jim Newton and CEO Mark Hatch at the event.

After touring the space and Mark and Jim showing me all of the cool products that have emerged from other TechShops around the country, including Square, DODO Case and Coin, I was convinced that this is a key place for innovators, young to old, to build their prototypes.

“We are in the business of creating communities that come together, collaborate and create jobs,” said Mark.

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During our tour, I asked Jim how TechShop found it’s way to Arizona, “Mitzi Montoya (Dean, College of Technology and Innovation) and I were on a panel in DC, and she was moderating. Afterward at the dinner, we started talking and she told me that ASU was about to build an innovation center in Chandler, but didn’t know how to do a shop, and wondering if they could build a TechShop at this location. This will be our first of many university partnerships,” he said.  It was that simple.

With how many great products that emerge out of TechShop, I was curious about the inception and process. Mark, being the storyteller, shared the story behind building Square at TechShop. “Square was founded by Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter-he came up with an idea for a payment service company because small businesses had trouble getting merchant accounts through the banks. Jack went out to all the big venture capitalists to raise money for the concept…he was turned down flat. Later, he and his partner came to TechShop to build the reader, he thought a prototype would help VCs understand how it worked. Jack went back out to the VCs and during his pitch asked to borrow one of the VC’s credit cards-he then charged $50 to the card, illustrating the ease of the product and explaining what Square means to commerce and small business. During his pitches, he raised $500 from VCs to help pay for the first minimal viable product…and no he didn’t return the money,” Mark said with a chuckle.

Other cool stuff about TechShop, all employees are local, they don’t take any interest in the product and it’s 100 percent owned by the founder, and they give 1,500 memberships away to veterans.

TechShop just announced a 60 million capital campaign to expand to 11 cities.

Buy Mark Hatch’s book The Maker Movement Manifesto on Amazon here.

Learn more about TechShop and classes here.