Author: john

"DoES Liverpool Has Moved"

 

DoES Liverpool has now officially moved to The Tapestry building.  When we re-open following the Easter holiday, on Tuesday 3rd April 2018, our new address will be:

DoES Liverpool
1st Floor
The Tapestry
68 – 76 Kempston Street
Liverpool L3 8HL

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped so far. There’s still plenty of cleaning and arranging to be done but if you don’t mind a bit of dishevelment then you’re welcome to come along and take a look. Our internet connection is active and the coffee will be brewing so you should be able to get some work done, although there’s a decent chance someone might offer you a paintbrush or mop!

This does mean that from this point our new pricing scheme is in action, as mentioned previously that is as follows:

Description Price Member Price
Single Day
(Workshop* or Desk)
£12/day £10/day
Out of Hours Workshop £35/month £25/month
Monthly Workshop £65/month £50/month
Flexidesk £80/month £70/month
Monthly desk £180/month £165/month
Registered Address/Mailbox £99/year £79/year
Storage per cubic feet per month £3 £3

* – Gerald surcharge of £2/usage still applies

If you are interested in receiving the discounts mentioned above, or simply supporting our efforts, this page will show you how to become a member.

Any hot desk days you’ve previously bought are still valid in the new venue. If you have a permanent desk then we will work with you to determine where your new desk location will be. If you have monthly workshop membership then your storage box has been transferred and your membership continues in the new location.

If you have a registered address with us, please now update any records you have to use the following address:

Your Company
c/o DoES Liverpool
The Tapestry
68 – 76 Kempston Street
Liverpool L3 8HL

For the time being we will still be able to receive post at the Gostins Building but this will only be available for the next few months so we advise that you update your records as soon as possible.

As mentioned there’s still much to do so we don’t yet have glossy photos of our finished space, but below should give you a taster, together with the last moments in Gostins!

End. Of. An. Era. Goodbye Gostins, it’s been a fun 7 years. #weeknotes

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"APRIL FOOLS: UK Government Announces First Multi-million Pound Investment in UK Makerspace"

Make sure you read to the end to find out full details of DoES Liverpool’s funding efforts, or TL;DR here: http://bit.ly/DoEpicFunding

Chancellor David Lidington today put in place the final building blocks of his “Northern powerhouse” when he announced the UK’s first Maker Enterprise Zone would be here in Liverpool.

The Government is putting £5m towards the DoES Liverpool move project – a collaboration between DoES Liverpool, The Tapestry and The Fabric District

DoES Liverpool will house and support new high-tech businesses around “sensor technologies”. It will also support new and existing businesses doing UX testing, public transit, wearable technology, home made 3D printed prosthetics, spoken language translation, social enterprise support, and basically any small business that needs their support. I mean, why limit yourself! 

Sensors are the crucial link between technological devices and the world around them, which is also incredibly important.  Capturing data on a whole host of areas such as temperature, humidity and pressure is really good, but then what do you do with that data? You interpret it, you present it, and you make sure people can understand it.

They can be used in everything from home security systems to medical technology and high-value manufacturing, don’t you know.

DoES Liverpool will help inventions go from the lab to the factory floor even faster, and act as a shop  window for foreign investment into Merseyside’s high tech start ups, as it has done for the last seven years


Mr Lidington told the ECHO: “The stuff being developed here is absolutely cutting edge.

It is better than anything else happening anywhere in the world, well apart from every other maker space. What’s the point in being ridiculously competitive and claiming to be the best when you can’t do it without the support of similar people around the world.

“We are all going to use the technologies being developed here and we are going to be able to say they were made in Liverpool, with massive support from the maker community around the world”

Mr Lidington is allocating £10.4m to upgrade the BT broadband provision in the centre of Liverpool, massively increasing the speeds available. A second 9600bps modem will sit alongside the existing 2400bps modem to provide speeds not seen anywhere else in the world, since 1991. Fortunately IX Liverpool and Baltic Broadband have independently installed a 10Gbps pipe which is available for use by people who actually want modern internet speeds.

Mr Lidington added: “I said I wanted to create a Northern powerhouse. You can link great cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds together and create a real economic powerhouse.

“Alternatively you could pay people who have no idea about these things hundreds of thousands to build a big overpriced building that’s not fit for purpose, but who’d do that eh?!”

The Chancellor also denied Liverpool was being left out of the proposed high speed rail projects, even though it was.

However, Mr Lidington insisted the increased capacity would benefit the whole of the North West.

He said: “Liverpool is very much on the map. Not the one we have in Whitehall, but it seems to be on this one you just handed me. It says OpenStreetMap, what’s that? I’m confused, I’m sure we told Ordnance Survey to remove Liverpool back in the 80s”

“The geographical area isn’t that different to Greater London but they are separate cities. One is called Liverpool and the other is called London. Hold on did I just say I was funding Liverpool, no.. wait.. that can’t be right, who crossed out London and wrote Liverpool. Did I sign that?! Someone call the bank and stop that cheque!”

Provost Professor Stephen Holloway, who led the bid from the University of Liverpool, said:  “Creating a new space where ideas from our sensor research laboratories can be transformed  into new start-ups is a very exciting prospect for both universities and provides great opportunities them to skim the profits made by anyone that even walks past our buildings. We definitely thought we should have got the funding even though DoES Liverpool already did all this stuff on a shoestring budget.”

And Professor Robin Leatherbarrow,  who led the bid for JMU added: “This is a tremendous success for Liverpool and a superb example of how our two universities can work together in an area where we each have considerable complementary strengths. Wait, I thought we won the money?!”


ONLY JOKING! Of course DoES Liverpool hasn’t been awarded millions in funding, and we’re definitely not bitter. We do currently have a funding drive going to help pay for our move to our amazing new space in the Tapestry building. After seven years running and helping new high-tech (and low-tech) businesses get started we’re looking forward to the next seven years and hope we can rely on your help to get us there! Find out more about that here, and tell your friends!
(And apologies to Tony McDonough for ripping apart his actually quite reasonable and well written article I found here: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/liverpools-15m-sensor-city-best-7365286, also partly inspired by this article extolling the virtues of makerspaces: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/britain-ideas-factory-uk-industry-creators-economy)
"Announcing our new home, and DoES membership!"

It’s been over 3 months since I last posted something about DoES Liverpool’s plan to move, and what a busy time it’s been. We’ve firmed up our plans to move and we’ve also managed to get some new people signed up so that we can be a lot happier about being able to afford what is looking like an exciting expansion of the DoES Liverpool coworking space and workshop. We actually announced this in person during our birthday party and have dropped quite obvious hints and mentions on Twitter, but somehow posting it to our blog feels more official. I am very happy to be able to announce:

DoES Liverpool is moving to The Tapestry, a newly renovated classic building in what will soon be known as The Fabric District.

This move should be a great new start for DoES Liverpool as we work through our seventh year. DoES Liverpool will be always be DoES Liverpool, but with double the floor space we’ll be able to do that much more. We will have a bigger, better events space; multiple meeting rooms; quiet corners to take a call and a nice space to hang out, drink coffee* and have a chat. While still offering the best coworking and workshop facilities in the city! (* other beverages are available)

The Fabric District is across the city between London Road and Islington. The map below illustrates our old location (red) and the new (green), we’ve also highlighted Lime Street Station to show the great transport links we’ll continue to have in our new location.

Jason Abbott, one of the owners of the Tapestry, and a number of other stakeholders are really pushing to develop the area into a great place to live and make things. They’re trying to do it in such a way that doesn’t push out the great people who are already running businesses there now, hoping to embrace their work and bring more people, and customers, into the area!

They’re still working to finish the building, and once that’s finished we then need to get in and get the space ready for our own purposes. We’re expecting to have the keys at the beginning of January and will then work to get the space ready as fast as possible. We’re working on the plans for this but we’re really hopeful to get things done as fast as possible and to be in by February.

The move to a new space is such a large change for DoES Liverpool, our first move in over 6 years, so this seems like an obvious time to make some changes to our pricing structure.

One key thing we’re doing is making membership an official thing. We’re ever thankful to Francis Irving for suggesting the “Friends of DoES” scheme and now we’re bringing that in as part of our pricing model. If you setup a monthly £10 payment then you are considered a “Friend of DoES”, we truly appreciate the people that do this and we know that people like having this option to signal their support for DoES Liverpool and our mission to support a vibrant community of makers in Liverpool. See this page for how to sign up.

This restructure does mean increasing our standard prices but we’re going to take this opportunity to offer discounts on these prices to our members as well. The larger size of the new venue and the ability to offer 24/7 access means we can add a few more services to the list as you’ll see below:

 

Description Price Member Price
Single Day
(Workshop* or Desk)
£12/day £10/day
Out of Hours Workshop £35/month £25/month
Monthly Workshop £65/month £50/month
Flexidesk £80/month £70/month
Monthly desk £180/month £165/month
Registered Address/Mailbox £99/year £79/year
Storage per cubic feet per month £3 £3

* – Gerald surcharge of £2/usage still applies

There’s a few new things on that list I can tell you about. The first is the “Flexidesk” option. This is somewhere between the hot desk day and the full monthly desk option. We really want it to allow people to pop in for short periods without having to stress about paying a half day for a few hours, or rushing out before their half day turns into a full day. It’s similar to our “all you can eat, but don’t take the mickey” workshop option that lets you come and go as you please but reflects the fact that we expect Flexidesk users to be in more often. We’re not going to be stressing about how often you’re in and we don’t want you to either, we just want to see more of you!

We’re now splitting the workshop offering into two, one for people who are likely to be in during the daytime and one for people who are more likely to be in “out of hours”. We’d expect this to be like peak and off-peak and have priced it accordingly, it’ll be interesting to see what changes when we have much extended opening hours.

Finally, we’ve come up with a price to cover general storage. We’re hoping this works out and is a fair price, considering our biggest outlay is rent – i.e the physical space – we really need to be able to recoup that cost and if you’re storing stuff at DoES you’re definitely making use of the space. All of the monthly costs already include some storage but if you find you need more, you can now pay us for it!

These price changes will help to make sure we can cover the running costs but getting the space ready in the first place and getting everything moved over is going to stretch our current finances so we’re also planning to run a crowdfunding drive to help us to cover that. There’ll be more information once we have a better idea of the costs involved.

We’re keeping the old prices until we move into the Tapestry but if you want to take advantage of the Flexidesk option you can do that straight away, just get in touch at hello@doesliverpool.com! Similarly if you have any questions about the move please get in touch. There’s so much more to tell about this story and we will continue to update you but hopefully we can alleviate any concerns you might have.

Finally lets close out with the current plan for room layout and some photos from within the (unfinished) space. This layout isn’t final yet and the furniture shown is just a guide but it’s still an exciting glimpse at the future capabilities of DoES Liverpool!

"Money and ting"

Continuing our “DoES wants to move” season… we should probably start again with some background. DoES Liverpool was incorporated, after a few months of discussion, on the 10th June 2011. To speed things up we ended up asking an accountant to set up the company for us, as a result we ended up with a Community Interest Company limited by shares, with our articles of association declaring that we will operate as a non-profit. As it turns out we may have been better off setting the company up as “limited by guarantee”, we even suspect that this contributed to us being denied rates relief by the council, so we’re going to look into changing this probably as part of the general “move” process.

So, we’re a “not for profit”, does that mean we have to make a loss every year? Surely that means we’ll go out of business?! Actually no, the important thing is that any profit generated is reinvested in the company and the community rather than taken out by shareholders (which is why it would be easier if we didn’t actually have shareholders!) In fact DoES Liverpool was a profitable company from the start, with no real capital invested – just a small director’s loan which was quickly paid back – we really had no choice to survive any other way.

Until the most recent financial year that accounts have been prepared for DoES Liverpool has made a profit each and every year. That financial year we had to start paying business rates, including some that were back-dated, so it wasn’t a big surprise there was a small loss. We ended the year with plenty of money in the bank

Financial Year Income Outgoings Profit/Loss
2015-2016 £38,314 £39,219 £-905
2014-2015 £34,770 £31,730 £3,040
2013-2014 £28,757 £27,755 £1,002
2012-2013 £29,146 £24,455 £4,691
2011-2012 £20,771 £17,104 £3,667

(Note that IANAA – I Am Not An Accountant, I’ll do my best with the figures in this post but there’s a decent chance I’ll make mistakes)

FreeAgent is also reporting we’ve made £37,394 in our last year that ended 30th June 2017 and should make a profit, it doesn’t offset for deposits we’re holding so that might drop but looks like we held our own.

So it looks like we’re doing pretty well going from nothing to quickly reaching around £40k/year. Really though DoES isn’t trying to make vast sums of money, all we need is to pay the rent and to have enough money to buy useful equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters. In fact the rise in income was matched by a rise in outgoings so that would have been around the time we took on the separate workshop (and kitchen) and then Dinky, our events room.

Unfortunately, while our accounts paint a fairly rosy picture, our income has been dropping over the last 12 months hence our recent pushes to get more people. Hold onto your hats, as here’s a graph of permanent desk invoicing over the last 12 months:

Permanent Desks 07/2016 – 06/2017

We’ve seen rises and falls before, an especially big one a few years ago that we did manage to pull ourselves out of as you’ll see in this graph:

Permanent Desks 2011-2017

Permanent desks have always been our main source of income. In some ways they’re the easiest things for us to sell as they make the biggest impact on our finances, but they also result in bigger problems when people decide to move on. Here’s a graph showing our income broken down into categories:

Income categorised, as a percentage, 2011-2017

That makes it quite clear how much of our income comes from permanent desks. We’ve always had the hot desk and workshop membership options. Hot desking has always been popular but has never reached the levels of the permanent desks for proportion of income. Workshop membership wasn’t so popular initially but has more recently seen an upturn.

Taking out the permanent desks gives a richer break-down:

Income categorised, no permanent desks, 2011-2017

Bearing in mind that permanent desks have always provided over 60% of our revenue it’s still interesting to dig down into the other categories. Our first six months in 2011 actually seem to have involved a lot of funding for events. This isn’t a big surprise, we were excited to have a new space so we ran a BarCamp and probably a few other events. We were also being given money to support Maker Nights which certainly helped in those early days. It’s actually a shame we’re not running events so often these days so hopefully that’s something we’ll look at more in the new space.

It looks like hot desks have become a smaller proportion of our income and, workshop membership seems to be growing. You start to see our registered address mailbox service creeping in too in the recent years. While hot desks may be a smaller proportion they’re still a large part of our income as you can see from the following similar graphs which aren’t scaled to percentages.

Income categorised, no permanent desks, 2011-2017

Income categorised, no permanent desks, 2011-2017

These do show that our hot desk income seems to be dropping, this is something we have perhaps noticed but not taken quite as much notice of as we should. If we’d picked up on it earlier it could have been a warning sign towards the more recent drop off of permanent desks. What reasons might there be for this? Well there’s definitely a lot more competition for hot-desks and flexible lets in the city now compared to 6 years ago. Few of these spaces offer the same community feel you get in DoES but some do, and just the number of people offering similar services can make it tricky for DoES to stand out. We’re well aware that our current space isn’t the most aesthetically appealing but there was little scope for improving it in the building we’re currently in. Our new home will allow us to much improve our co-working offering, both in terms of the services we offer and improving the feel of the space, so we’re confident we can turn this around.

What’s probably not shown so well on that graph is that some of the hot desk visits will actually be people using the workshop. We’re definitely seeing the workshop getting regular use, especially on the two laser cutters but also on the other equipment like the 3D printers.

What else can we do? Well offering new types of service is one thing. The registered address service that we introduced just a few years ago is going well and is bringing in increasing amounts. Similarly the “Friends of DoES” option that came about because Francis Irving decided he wanted to help fund DoES but didn’t need any of the specific paid-for services we had at the time has also helped (unfortunately it doesn’t show up well in the graphs, it will be spread across Funding & Other due to the ways the payments come in). We can also look at bringing in more revenue from hosting events and meetings, our existing events room – Dinky – is quite rarely busy during the day so there’s a lot of scope for doing more with this. If you have an idea of a service DoES should be offering let us know.

We’ve also mentioned in the past about bringing whole companies in to DoES Liverpool, that’s still an option if we can find companies that are interested and would be a good fit with the DoES community. While this would have a bigger impact on our finances, similar to the permanent desks it also gives us a bigger dependency as losing that single client will cause a big drop in our income. One to be careful of but something we’re definitely considering (get in touch if you’d like to move in with us!)

So there you have it, DoES Liverpool is a company that has grown from nothing into a wonderful large community and a mostly profitable Community Interest Company. We’ve had some difficult times but we’ve managed to make our way out of them in the past and we’re quite sure we can do it again.

I actually began writing this blog post not long after promising it back in March and things have moved on a lot since then. While we’ve had the news that our building has definitely been sold and we have a more urgent need to move, we’ve also been able to find a great new home and are in the final stages of finalising that. In the next few weeks and months you can expect more blog posts with updates both on the new space and also on changes we might be making to our offerings to support it. I’m very excited for what the future holds and I hope you are too!


If you are interested in moving a small company in to DoES Liverpool or you would like to run an event in our delightful events room (named Dinky, after the toy cars born in Liverpool!) then simply send an email over to hello@doesliverpool.com. If you want to use the workshop or hot desk then you can mostly just turn up, although you’re quite welcome to fire an email over first. To use the laser cutters you will need to book a slot, and have an induction first.

If you just want to give DoES money to help us make this happen then that’s always an option too! We always appreciate our Friends who donate £9/month by standing order or via PayPal.

 

"Superflyfast"

Did you know we upgraded our internet connection last year?

We probably got something of a reputation for having a poor connection early on so thought we really ought to crow about having such a great connection these days. Liverpool city centre is awful for internet access, BT have been terrible at upgrading what’s there and availability of Virgin is hit and miss. Fortunately our building was upgraded to a much faster connection meaning we have a fully synchronous connection that tops out at 100Mbps in both directions. Not only can you see your entire team in a HD video chat but they can see you in crisp clarity! Upload those gig photos that have been sitting on your hard drive, publish that HD video documentary you’ve been working on or become a millionaire with your latest mobile phone game!*

* DoES Liverpool can provide no guarantees regarding game sales.

So, if you’ve been avoiding coming into DoES remembering our days of ADSL that could barely provide 5Mbps, give us another try!

"DoES Liverpool Wants to Move"

DoES Liverpool is readying a move to new premises and we’re going to need your help to do it. But first, let me tell you a story…

Five years ago, a group of six friends started an experiment.  They thought that a space to learn, work, and play with new technology and tools, and alongside others with similar interests, could help everyone in the city do epic shit.  They founded DoES Liverpool and took on a thousand square feet of space in Gostins.  It was one of the first wave of makerspaces and hackspaces founded across the country, and has always had a focus on diversity – of interests and of the sort of people using the space: hobbyists, freelancers and businesses.

Come to DoES Liverpool, we have cupboards!

They had big ambitions.  Believing that the best way to get a company like Google to open an office in Liverpool is to grow a company like Google within Liverpool.  However, that ambition is always tempered by a realism of what can be achieved at a given point in time; not because they’re happy to settle for less, but because of a belief that better living through technology is a journey rather than a destination and they’re in it for the long haul!

The open plains of early DoES Liverpool, where obviously the CNC mill is next to the coffee machine and printer.

In the five and a half years since setting up the DoES Liverpool space our community have been involved in some really great projects. If you follow our #weeknotes blog posts you’ll already know but we hack our lives, and the lives of others. Making efficient wave energy happen. The Wheredial to keep in touch with loved ones. A 12 year old girl 3D printing the new hand she designed and customised herself. 3D printed quad-copters, and rolling out technology tackling loneliness in older people.

DoES Liverpool has expanded a number of times over the years, taking on a dedicated workshop and then an events space but we’ve hit the limits of what the Gostins Building can offer and it’s time for a change.

By moving to a new home we are aiming to make big changes to what our community can do within our walls. We want to expand our workshop to fit more people in and to house more exciting equipment. We want to expand our co-working to let more hot-deskers and small companies join us. We want to make it easier for people to work to their own hours, allowing 24/7 access too. We also want DoES Liverpool to be an inviting space that people really want to visit, with considered aesthetics and a warm, welcoming vibe.

See, we can do aesthetics! (Ignore the cables!)

To put some numbers on it, we currently reside in approximately 2000 square feet of space in the Gostins building. We have decided that to make a move worthwhile the minimum space that will let us grow to support the community in the ways we want is 4000 square feet. We currently get a great rate for our rent so anywhere we move to is going to cost more, in fact more than double (pretty obviously given the size increase!) DoES has never relied on external funding for our running costs, instead charging a reasonable sum for services. This means that to be able to afford a new, bigger, space we have to be sure that it’s going to generate the income we need.

What do we need to make this happen? What can you do to help? Well the best thing you can do is to start making use of our services. If you’ve been thinking of taking a permanent desk, we have some available already in our current home. If you’ve been thinking of taking workshop membership then get in touch. Even if you just want to start popping in once a week or once a month, it will all help.

As our new space is going to be substantially bigger we intend to welcome in small companies too, around 5-10 people in a self-contained room for example. Obviously we would struggle to accommodate you now but if working alongside the DoES Liverpool community with regular access to our workshop is something that interests you then get in touch. Knowing that you’ll be joining us could make the difference.

We have lots of chairs!

While we do have a few viable options, if you know somewhere that could be ideal for DoES then we’re still open to suggestions. We need a minimum of 4000 square feet but would be happy with more, cost permitting. We’re not a fan of strings (except when they’re CNC controlled and drawing pretty pictures) so offers of space that are dependent on promises we can’t meet or that restrict who we can allow into the space are not going to cut it.

If you just want to give DoES money to help us make this happen then that’s always an option too! We always appreciate our Friends (who donate £9/month by standing order and PayPal) and we’re planning to run a Kickstarter campaign once we have a better idea of overall costs so there’ll be opportunities to help there too.

We have fantastic ideas for where we can take DoES in the future and we’d love to fill you in so we’re going to follow this post up very soon with some detail on that. For those who are really interested in the numbers we’ll also follow up with more detail about what we’ve been paying and how much we’ve been making over the years.

And what will we do when we get our new space? Well more Epic Shit of course! More 3D printed prosthetics, more laser cut artworks, more apps, more electronics, more cake, and of course.. more bubbles!

Not all of our desks are this small

 

"Merry Christmas"

Seasons greetings to all from DoES Liverpool. Don’t forget our Christmas party this Saturday from 2pm. There’ll be various things happening through the afternoon and possibly into the evening! Bring some festive cheer, and some food and drink along, and enjoy Christmas with us.

You can get some festive cheer in early by changing the colours on our Christmas tree! Simply send a tweet mentioning a colour and the word “cheerlights” and our tree will change colour, you can even see it on the webcam below! (Updated once a minute now disabled until next year!) More information on how to control CheerLights here.

Even more impressive, you can control the LED screen at FACT in a similar way due to a new installation by MCQN!

"Building a Self Sustaining Community Space"

DoES Liverpool is three years old! Over these three years we’ve gone from 6 people who thought it might be an interesting idea to set up a shared space for co-working and making stuff to a much bigger community including great tech startups, published authors, internationally recognised conference speakers, and awesome moustaches (and all that’s just Adrian).

It’s been mainly good times during these years but we’ve also had some difficult times. We’re getting to a tricky time at the moment so please read on to the end to hear more about that, but first…

A Little History

Actually DoES Liverpool did exist as more than 6 people before we opened “DoES Liverpool” the space. We had already been running “Maker Night” at the Art & Design Academy (now the John Lennon Art & Design building) at Liverpool John Moores University. These events were great and their popularity helped to confirm that there would be a market for a co-working and maker space in Liverpool.

Setting up a new company and opening a physical space was always going to be a big step though. It’s one thing to run some free events in a space graciously provided to us, but in DoES Liverpool we wanted to build something important, something that would change the landscape of Liverpool and Liverpool’s position in the world (as Adrian says – return Liverpool to it’s rightful place at the top!)

One of the earliest decisions we made was how to fund the space. As we were looking to nurture a community, and one of the ways we might be doing this would be running events, it was tempting to look for funding. Many times we were told “there’s easy funding out there, you just need to apply for it” but we’d also heard of experiences from other people running similar spaces that funding led to paperwork, and could easily cause you to change your mission to match what the funders would be looking for.

On the other hand four of us in the community were already paying around £120/month for a desk in a small office. We realised that it may actually be possible, and more scalable, to build a business charging people money in exchange for services.

We knew straight away that before we could go ahead with the plan, we had to make sure that we had enough people paying for services so that we could afford to pay our outgoings. In the end we did cheat a little. ScraperWiki (one of those aforementioned “great tech startups”) donated £300 and OpenLabs (John Moores University’s team of startup action men & women) donated £175/month for the first 3 months but these really were just going to help us get started and we knew straight away that we had to have a sustainable business or it wasn’t going to last very long.

We moved into our new home in the Gostins Building on Hanover Street in central Liverpool on the 8th July and opened our doors to the public just a week later. Not long after we’d sent out our first invoice for 10 days of hot desking (thanks Chris!) and a short while after that welcomed our first two new permanent desk members. From that moment on we haven’t looked back, we’ve made new friends and welcomed new people into our space. From that point we’ve been consistently profitable, well almost…

Making a Profit

Although we’ve asked for sponsorship when we’ve put on specific events, such as BarCamp Liverpool or Howduino, beyond those first donations we’ve never asked for outside funding to cover the general running costs of DoES Liverpool. All of our costs are covered by the services we provide. We have tried to keep our list of services short and simple: permanent desks, hot desks and workshop access, but have recently extended this to include a registered postal address service.

Originally, when looking at our finances and balancing the books, we tended to only consider the permanent desks. At £150/month and reasonably stable they were a lot easier to consider than the hot desks which could be so variable. However when we did eventually look at the hot desk figures – by adding up all the revenue and dividing over the number of months we’d been running – it turned out that we were making £150/month, so equivalent to an entire permanent desk, not to be sniffed at.

Francis Irving decided 2 years ago that he wanted to pay us £9/month as a “Friend of DoES”. He saw that, while he was an active member of the community, attending events and participating on the mailing list, we didn’t actually offer him a service that he could pay for. Others followed suit, many set up a standing order and pay each month but some people donate a few months at once. While £9/month may not seem like a huge amount it does add up. Since Francis suggested the idea we’ve had 169 “Friend of DoES” payments, amounting to over £1500 in donations. That’s pretty awesome, thank you Francis for starting this and thank you to all of the friends that have donated.

Down to Brass Tacks

This blog post was inspired by a recent conversation on the mailing list in which Karl Ablitt – who’s looking to set up a hackerspace in Norwich – asked for some information about DoES Liverpool. My response went into some of the information above and also gave a run-down on the current state of DoES’s finances. Adrian’s response suggested that it would be useful for there to be more visibility on these numbers and that led to this blog post.

So here’s our income:

Hot desks (avg) £193.95
Permanent desks £1,200.00
Workshop £60.00
Friends £114.75
Events £50.00
Petty Cash £125.00
£1,743.70

And our outgoings:

Main rooms rent £850.00
Workshop £324.00
New Dinky rent £350.00
Electricity (approx) £150.00
Phone & Internet £175.03
Sundries £200.00
Recycling £16.20
TiR £150.00
Cleaning £40.00
Hosted Services £38.80
Admin Role £292.93
Laser Payments £150.00
£2736.96

You will probably notice that one of these is actually bigger than the other. If you’re even sharper-eyed, you’ll spot that it’s not the good way round. For most businesses that would be a sign that things aren’t going right, but as with many things relating to DoES Liverpool it isn’t quite that simple.

Our mission isn’t to fill a certain square footage with paying desks, nor provide a laser-cutting bureau. We have a bigger aim – providing what Liverpool’s tech, maker and startup community needs to prosper.

What does success look like then?

It could be a business using the laser-cutter to prove the market for their jewellry, and growing it to the point where they can justify buying their own machine. Or a startup forming from a few hot-deskers getting to know each other, and then heading off to focus on their idea at an accelerator programme. Or a startup using DoES as a base until they get their own office. Or local businesses finding talented freelancers who join them on-site for a few months to help both business and freelancer thrive.

There are other definitions of success for the DoES community, but we highlight those for a reason – all result in people giving up workshop membership, full-time desks or hot-desking, even if only for a while.

Normally it isn’t a problem, but over the summer we’ve had a few of those coincide with some growing pains which had already pushed our costs up to just over our income.

The admin support that Sean is providing is proving really helpful, and we’d hit the limits of our Internet connection so the new bonded line and router are still essential upgrades.

Obviously we need to address the shortfall, but rather than shrink our capacity, we’d rather ask the community to help us push through this to the next level.

How you can help

The best way you can help is to move in, then we get the benefit of your cash and your presence adding to the activity, conversations and connections being made – be that at a full-time desk, workshop membership or just as a frequent hot-desker.

If that doesn’t work for you, then consider becoming a Friend of DoES or setting up a regular donation. We always appreciate any donations, no matter how small… or large 😉

Everyone can help get word out about what’s available at DoES – tell your friends who are looking for a desk, or who might be interested in laser-cutting or 3D printing. The more people who know about us, the better.

  • john
  • Epic Trips
  • Comments Off on DoES Epic Trip #5 – Do Excellent Stuff in windy places? Another Epic journey
"DoES Epic Trip #5 – Do Excellent Stuff in windy places? Another Epic journey"

The fifth Epic Trip was to the Scout Moor wind farm and Paul Marrow kindly wrote up a report:


Image from Paul Anderson via Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA licensed

Following in the emerging tradition of epic DoES Liverpool journeys yesterday the journey was indeed epic, from Liverpool via Maghull to Scout Moor, in what remains of Lancashire, 0.5 miles from the edge of Greater Manchester (Rochdale) and only 5 miles from West Yorkshire. Scout Moor is apparently the location of the largest (in terms of energy production) wind farm in the UK and it was indeed an impressive site. The trip from Maghull was supported by the wind turbine development company responsible, in order to assist greater understanding and support for a smaller, pending, project in a lower-lying area north of Liverpool (about which more later.) I met people from FoE Liverpool and FoE Southport but I am not sure whether anybody else who identified this from the DoES mailing list attended.

More about Scout Moor: as its name suggests this is exposed moorland which from its plant biodiversity appears to have been used for sheep grazing for a long period. (The nearest human habitation is a sheep farm.) It is open access land so walkers (and sheep) can walk around the turbines without limit (except attempting to gain access to the interior of the turbine tower where the transformer is located.) In order to be an effective wind farm it needs to be windy, and indeed it was, also rather wet. Is this a surprise in Northern British moorland?

While the weather might be bad for humans, the turbines kept turning. The rotation of the blades is converted into electrical power through the gear mechanism at the hub of each turbine, and then transformed through several different voltages before being fed into the national electrical grid presumably some distance away.

Key disadvantages that people have suggested: the disruption of natural viewpoints, the obstruction of traffic in transporting turbine components to the site, the impact on biodiversity on the site. Well, having lived near a nuclear power station I think Scout Moor looks more aesthetically pleasing, but I understand that must be subjective. There are issues in transporting components to the site when building the wind farm: wind turbine towers and blades are very large and do cause congestion on motorways (I have seen them) and it must be worse for the inhabitants of the nearby towns. It was conceded by representatives of the firm that this is a major hindrance in Wales, where planning applications for a number of onshore wind farms have been accepted, but there is not the road network to bring the components in without paralysing some Welsh towns. Constructing an onshore wind farm does involve some construction activity in a typically remote site, but not on the same scale that would be needed for a conventional or nuclear power station – and there is no primary growth biodiversity on this island in any case. Advantages: the technology is well established at other sites, once constructed it’s easy to start up, and easy to shut down.

But there remains the challenge of what do we want in our back yard, it is a bit crowded on this island. Not everybody will have the same viewpoint. I have on paper information about a proposed site at Lower Alt between Maghull and Formby which I shall leave at DoES Liverpool next time I come in.

From a technology point of view, because onshore wind farms are monitored remotely, I can see some interesting potential for linking monitoring and reports on weather conditions with information about power input and distribution into the electric grid (this comes from my background in telecoms.) I don’t know whether there are any lessons to be learned for smaller-scale technology integration and power generation. Wind farm on the roof of the Gostin’s building. Comments anyone?

"DoES Epic Trip #4 – Waste Not"

DoES Epic Trips are occasional trips to interesting places arranged by members of the DoES Liverpool community. So far we’ve visited the Stafford Beers Archive at LJMU, the Liverpool Traffic Control Centre, and Toxteth Fire Fit Hub Fire Station & Community Centre. The fourth trip (back in June) was to the Merseyside Waste Recycling Centre. I posted a report on the mailing list and am finally posting it to the blog!

The trip to the Waste Recycling Centre will be repeated soon, so if you’re interested take a look at this post on the mailing list.


Just back from the epic trip and thought I’d send a report before I forgot everything. The trip was to the Merseyside Waste Recycling Centre and showed us all about how the recycling for Liverpool, Halton & Knowsley is handled.

Essentially we were shown a large warehouse building with lots of equipment and conveyors in. The recycling comes in mixed together as Liverpool and the other areas have a single bin into which plastic bottles, cardboard, paper, glass & metal cans all go. Out the other end of the system comes bales of cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, aluminium, steel and piles of broken glass. A mixed collection tends to result in more recycling, assumedly because it’s easier for us lazy people. As well as I remember the process works as follows:

  • Mixed recycling goes up big conveyor.
  • Humans watch conveyors and pick out big obvious things that shouldn’t be in there as it passes through, plastic bags etc.
  • The mix is then jiggled over essentially a large sieve. The holes are quite big so most things fall through but the cardboard is generally quite large and stays up, is then taken and baled.
  • Humans then check again for any problem items.
  • Paper is then separated out by only allowing flat things through, can’t quite remember how that was done, this may have been air blowing through the material blowing the paper up or a simple filter that only allowed a certain thickness through.
  • A secondary check is then done for paper that looks for bottles & cans that have been flattened or plastic bags, etc. that have got this far. They shine infra red light onto the materials and check for the absorbency of the material and then use air jets to push the non-paper items away.
  • Next is a set of magnets that go around on a conveyor above the recycling that picks out the steel and drops it, which is then also baled.
  • Aluminium is filtered by having a magnetic field induced which repels the aluminium, apparently, wasn’t too clear on that one. Again, that’s then baled.
  • We’re now left with plastic and glass. This is all dropped onto metal spikes. The glass shatters, the plastic doesn’t, I guess they then use a size filter to take away the broken glass.
  • They have suction devices that can take labels and other contaminants off the plastic bottles so this is another stage they go through.

(I’m pretty certain I’ve got the order of some bits wrong but you get the gist.)

It’s all very organised and as you can see many of the processes they use are actually quite obvious, once you know them. A big aim of theirs is to reduce the number of “contaminants” that make it through the process. Obviously the best way is to stop them entering the system but they also have lots of ways to reduce them along the way. Most of the time contaminants can be dealt with at a later stage (e.g. glass bottles should have labels removed, but they can deal with it if they’re left on). It was quite interesting as they tried to juggle the message of “please prepare your recycling” and “we recycle as much as possible of whatever you send to us”.

Main takeaways for what they want people to do:

  • Follow the instructions given by the council, don’t infer things.
  • Don’t bag up your recycling, the plastic bags can get stuck in the system and can’t be recycled as part of this process.
  • Plastic cartons & boxes are not bottles. If you’re told that they can recycle bottles, that means they can only recycle bottles (this actually goes for DoES too!)
  • Don’t crush bottles and cans, because this reduces the thickness they may actually end up being considered paper until late in the sorting route.
  • Recycle as much as possible!

Quite a long [post], always worth writing things up when fresh in your mind 🙂 They do these tours regularly because they’re trying to get the message out about how to recycle and why. If it turned out that more people wanted to go then we could probably arrange another tour. I imagine the above will suffice and that you will all now recycle lots.

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