I can honestly say my life has changed significantly in the last two years. I have been an entrepreneur for 25 years now. Having done everything from hustling cars, to having stores, owning a mortgage company, having a design firm, and starting a small co-working space. All were fun, I made money, made friends, and gained experience. However, I did not know great success until now and it has nothing to do with money. Definitely nothing to do with accolades or praise.
In February 2012, I returned back to Sacramento and stumbled across a huge problem. A huge problem for me as I hunted for a workspace. There wasn’t a grassroots community space for hackers and makers. A place for what Jonathan Nelson of Hackers and Founders refers to as “our people”.
So together with the help of my co-founders and community we set out to solve this problem.Hacker Lab was born. It has been a magical (almost) two years. We have moved mountains, changed our lives and those of many around us. We have an awesome 10,000 sq. ft. space that is filled daily with the buzz of creativity, ingenuity, friendships, and success. We host 50 events in our space a month that are community driven and focused on education. We help people and we love it. They help us and we love them. We have also been very fortunate to have become good friends and partners with companies like VSP and Intel. Our journey has been nothing short of amazing. We don’t do it for money, we don’t do it for kudos, we do it for our geeky wonderful community. It’s been the greatest thing I have ever done.
Earlier this year, I identified two more problems. The first one being we needed technical infrastructure that would give us an edge in comparison to the Bay Area. Something that would spark innovation. Something that could make our Government town, the coolest Government town ever. The idea came from Brad Feld and what he was doing in Kansas with Hacker Housing and Google Fiber. I started thinking if we could just get a small taste of that here, starting in our grid, we could really ignite innovation. We were fortunate enough as a team and community to be able to start a mini campaign with the help of Congresswoman Doris Matsui. It then grew into a group campaign with the support of the City of Sac, City Of Elk Grove, Vision Service Plan, Valley Vision, Downtown Partnership, SACTO, Metro Chamber, and more. We don’t have full giga-bit in our town yet but we have grants out there from the City of Sacramento. We have our good friend TSE Communications spreading hi-speed goodness wherever they can including us with 100MBPS at Hacker Lab. The exciting news is that we will have full giga-bit coming in early 2014 at Hacker Lab. Thanks to Steve Hansen and the Downtown Partnership we are upgrading TSE’s service to a full giga-bit. Making us the only hacker/maker space in Northern California with this speed. We will be able to host, support, and house some serious cutting edge innovation out of our space in the next year. We can’t wait!
The last but not least major problem I set out to solve was affordable healthcare coverage for the hacker and tech community. With Obamacare rolling out in 2014 there were a lot of questions on how the self employed will be affected. There are surely so many good things to say about Obamacare but it is not a one size fits all solution. I saw that starting in 2014 insurance rates were going to actually go up for young adults making over 45-50k a year. Which is our biggest demographic in the startup community. So I set out to find a group membership plan for our community. I did not find one. So I set out to make one. With the help of my broker Kevin Grenz and Hackers and Founders founder, Jonathan Nelson, we created one. Starting in February 2014 we will be launching HackerCare.org, a national co-op health care plan for the tech community. It will be an affordable PPO plan, with your choice of doctors, and a share of cost deductible. I am so excited about all the people this will help and how it will support our community in a whole.
I cannot express in words how it feels to serve others. Being a Social Entrepreneur is epically rewarding. I wake up everyday wanting to see what I can do to solve problems for the community and people I love. I find that with hard work, vision and compassion, anything can be achieved. I am also seeing that the more passionate I am about something, the more I learn, the more I evangelize, and then things just happen. It is truly been an amazing journey. I am so grateful to have accidentally been put onto the path of being a Social Entrepreneur. I am never going back and I am going to challenge myself to help as many people as I can until I leave this earth.
Be the change you want to see in the world – Ghandi