From David Anderson, our Quarter 1 Part time resident:
When I found the Makeshift Society website and its residency program, I was considering many options for where to incubate my next tech startup through its earliest days. With the profusion of technology-focused coworking spaces in the Bay Area lately, it seemed like one of these bastions of fast-moving entrepreneurial drive and energy would be the obvious choice.
But Makeshift offered a different path. Here, creative energy is driven by far more than the technological curiosity or simple desire to get to a million users ASAP which pervades the Bay Area tech community’s mindset. In Makeshift, I saw an opportunity to let a more mindful, nurturing energy infuse the formative months of Trust Labs‘ existence. After all, the creatives that a space like Makeshift serves are exactly the pioneers who are focusing on creating deeper value above and beyond the dollar economy, which also happens to be our primary focus at Trust Labs, via our experiments with community-based digital currencies.
And what a few months it’s been. I started the year working part-time out of Makeshift, with little more than lots of research and a plan to build a prototype web app for early users, likely in the Bay Area. Within weeks, a coder friend had agreed to do the hard technology work for our prototype, and we had been offered the first $5k necessary to fund building it — by The Mill, a partnership between the Work In Progress coworking space in downtown Las Vegas and Vegas Tech Fund. Although I’d long-considered launching mCred, our first experiment around redefining social capital, in Las Vegas (“if it’ll work there, it’ll work anywhere”), the Bay Area always seemed like the default choice. However, the Mill’s validation was enough to commit to soft-launching in Vegas first.
In recent weeks, we’ve taken our earliest version of an app with virtually no features beyond the ability to send and request time-based currency among members, and just a few friends local to Vegas using it, and continually improved both features and interface based on the experiences of our earliest users. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Currently, we’re up over 40 members locally, and are focused on solidifying our ability to both grow more quickly in an individual community like Vegas, and launch new instances, starting with the Bay Area. Although lately I’ve been distracted by the pressing need to raise more than five thousand dollars to fund Trust Labs’ continuing operations (wink), preparations are nevertheless underway to bring mCred to new cities! As we activate new local currencies based on trust, we build a basis for the reinvention of our economy’s broken notion of personal credit (more info here).
It will be a long road, but an important mission; my deepest appreciation to Rena, Christina, Ashley and everyone at Makeshift Society for your help in making this journey possible.