A quest for affordable and collaborative workspaces lit the spark of what is today Moonlighter Makerspace. Its founders had explored similar “maker” ventures across the U.S. and in Europe, and they turned to the Florida SBDC at Florida International University (FIU) to make Moonlighter in Miami a reality.
A Fablab and Makerspace in Wynwood, Moonlighter was formed by FIU alumni Daisy Nodal and Tom Pupo – adjunct professors at FIU. It offers local designers, entrepreneurs and the public a space to co-create, prototype, and retail new innovative products.
“At the time we reached out to the Florida SBDC at FIU we had no physical location, we only participated in workshops, summer camps, school events, and fairs,” said Nodal. “We were struggling to find funding, to gain support from the city, and to open a brick and mortar location.”
A Florida SBDC business consultant worked directly with Nodal and Pupo, and the team met monthly to discuss matters of banking, finances and accounting. Ultimately, the Florida SBDC at FIU helped Nodal and Pupo secure $50,000 in startup financing from the Miami Bayside Foundation for the facility and its programs.
Moonlighter opened its doors August 14, 2015. As part of its offerings, Moonlighter hosts weekly classes that cover everything from 3D-printing vases to laser cutting textiles, or using littleBits circuits to create a synth instrument.
“We wouldn’t be here without the Florida SBDC at FIU,” Nodal said. “It wasn’t just the funding that they helped us with, it was the support – they helped us look at the numbers, follow the path we established and stay on track.”
At Moonlighter, members get access to tools that include a 3D-printing lab, a production model CNC Mill, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, handheld 3D-printing pens, industrial sewing machines, a circuits lab, and wood working tools. They can create anything from a custom sticker on the vinyl cutter to custom flat-pack wood furniture with the CNC mill.
“Everyone now is opening their minds to something different and creating something new,” Nodal said. “By bringing all of the tools together in one place, Moonlighter is creating a platform for makers to collaborate. We’ve given them the space to come and learn, and build their own futures.”