Editor’s Note: Jim Newton’s full 30-minute profile airs on CNN’s “The Next List” this Sunday at 2 P.M. ET. He is the founder and chairman of TechShop, a membership-based workshop for do-it-yourselfers that provides access to tools, equipment and instruction.
By Jim Newton, Special to CNN
When I started TechShop in 2006, there were about 200 projects I wanted to make. I needed a maker space like TechShop so I could get access to the tools and the space to create. I already had the ideas. I also knew a lot of people who would jump at the chance to be part of a place like that.
As TechShop has grown, now with six locations and about 4,000 members, I’ve been astounded by the ideas that members walk in with. We’ve seen ideas for electric cars, a needle-free diabetes meter, a baby warmer that could save 100,000 infants’ lives and even a diamond-making machine. Literally, everything from jewelry to jet packs have been created at TechShop. Most members have an idea of something they want to make, and come to us and join our community to build it.
When I meet people who are not yet members of TechShop, I like to ask a simple question: “What do you want to make?” The typical response is “Oh, nothing. I wouldn’t know where to start,” or “I’m not handy … I don’t know which end of a hammer to hold.”
Then I’ll press further. “Isn’t there something that you’ve wanted to make that doesn’t exist? For your house or car, a gift for someone, or to improve your life or someone else’s?”
That’s when an interesting thing happens. They light up and say something like, “Well, there is this one idea I have.” They will describe the idea in great detail right down to color, variations, and the brand name they have given it.
I find that most people are very passionate about something specific they want to make, but they don’t know how to do it. Some of these ideas are small and personal, and others are world-altering ideas.
TechShop’s mission is to coax people to think about their ideas and help them bring those ideas to fruition.
I believe that unlocking these ideas is how we can help change a person, or help change the world. So my question to you, right now is: What do YOU want to make?” As you go about the rest of your day, take a look around and ask yourself: If you had the resources and ability to make something, what you would do?