Since 2013, Makervillage, Inc has experimented with building businesses. Over that time, we’ve played with various models, mechanisms, and approaches. We’ve redeveloped nearly 20,000 sq feet of historic property. We’ve been a home to more than 100 startup companies, events, and ideas. Over 5,000 people have passed through our doors. We’ve led projects that fostered innovative learning opportunities for more than 250 children. We accelerated 12 founders, funded a half dozen microloans, and saw two successful exits. And we are still percolating.
In 2013, Tricia Steele launched Makervillage as a project within her company, SAI Digital, in Rome, Ga. She loved helping people that might be disregarded by others. So, she fancied up a meeting room and started hosting marketing workshops to help nurture creators and fledgling businesses.
She joined up with her now-husband, Greg Richardson, to connect the resources of the 7hills Makerspace, headquartered just a few blocks away.
It was a match made in heaven.
In late 2013, they negotiated the use of five downtown buildings to wrap a startup community around people with ideas and drive. This expansion included renovating two buildings as residences for five entrepreneurs.
In 2014, Tricia received a $50,000 SBA grant to incorporate Makervillage, Inc. Glorious chaos erupted.
In 2016, Makervillage completed the process to become a 501(c) non-profit and took on the renovation of a 10,000 sq. ft warehouse in downtown Rome. The number of projects and experiments exploded. Operating a multi-purpose co-work and creative hub meant taking on a Board of Directors, part-time staff, and as many volunteers as we could find.
At one point, a multi-million dollar software company was growing across the warehouse from a theater company rehearsing Shakespeare while a food truck taught cooking classes in the kitchen on the weekends (all while dozens of other members came and went at all hours!)
Because we believe that startup businesses need as much creativity and risk-taking as business savvy, we partnered with multiple arts organizations, hosted film premiers and radio shows and concerts. Why? Because we believe in saying YES to other people’s dreams. We think that the community benefits from every dollar a startup earns as well as every creation an artist dreams up.
With the successful sale of both of their own companies and the onset of the global pandemic, founders Greg & Tricia decided to accept the time to rest. In many ways, their bodies made them. Besides, no one wanted to breathe each other’s air in a co-work space for quite some time and this brought new clarity. As of 2021, Makervillage, Inc continued as a private Georgia non-profit, but elected not to maintain its tax-exempt status or a board of directors. In 2022, we gave our much-improved building back to its owner, and supported dozens of businesses, artists, and remote workers in our outgoing Maker Bazaar. We have continued investing financially in startup businesses that we care about and see potential in. The future may hold a VC fund, online resources and community, or not.
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