How KC Entrepreneur Nick Ward-Bopp Built a Makerspace for Inventing, CreatingDavid Cawthon
Ask most people, and they’ll tell you 2009 was brutal, especially for new graduates looking for work, like Nick Ward-Bopp. He couldn’t find a job in his field. But that turned out to be a blessing.
Instead of falling into a traditional marketing or business job (that’s what he studied in college), the budding Kansas City entrepreneur would forge a different path and build his own career, literally, with his two hands.
“I got really lucky that I didn’t get that job,” Nick says. “I was able to create a place that’s changing mindsets. It’s empowering people, it’s changing the household culture, it’s changing the community culture.”
Back then, Nick traded the 9-to-5 grind and office cubicles for construction, design, woodworking and metalworking—skills he taught himself by renovating buildings.
About that time, the maker movement was beginning to take off across the country, including in Kansas City. Nick says he realized others were looking to master those same skills he developed through his own ingenuity. That’s when he had an idea: create a space where anyone could learn, make, build and tinker in the heart of Kansas City: a makerspace.
Because he and his friend Sam Green were living cheaply, they put a down payment on a building near 31st and Cherry streets in Kansas City, Missouri, and began transforming the inside into what’s now Maker Village KC.
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As Nick saw his idea come into focus, he also discovered Kansas City is ripe with resources for entrepreneurs—resources that helped him shape his concept, get funding, upgrade the facilities and more.
“Without the help of all the people along the way and the resources along the way on the Resource Rail, I think we would be less confident,” Nick says. “We are confident that we have the right idea, the right people, the right business plan, the right operating agreement, the right income to debt ratio, all those things, and it gives us confidence to make decisions to move us forward.”
Today, the shop offers courses and even has space for an in-house guitar technician. If you walk past the frosted windows on 31st Street, you’ll likely hear a symphony of metal equipment, hammers, sanders and of course people laughing and creating.
“We feel like we’re helping to empower people to build, to learn,” he says. “Instead of going to a big-box store, they’re going to make something themselves, which is an experience that you can’t take away.”