Serious Business

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Russ Garrett

Feb 1, 2009, 5:58:42 PM2/1/09
[Just an update: our Google group is now at 80 members, and we've
already spawned a sister group in Birmingham. The London Hack Space
project is just a week old today.]

In the interests of pushing forward, I'm going to incorporate a
non-profit company this week. In this email I'll try and break down why
and how in an understandable way. Sorry for the length - I want to
provide as much transparency here whilst keeping things moving apace.

*Why we need a limited company*
If we're going to rent a space, a limited company is essential because
otherwise one person will be personally liable for the rent. If things
go tits-up, that person could get bankrupted. A limited company is just
a structure to stop that occurring.

With a limited company, you also get a democratic structure for free. A
company is legally required to hold annual meetings with its members,
and these provide a way of voting for and replacing directors. Once the
company is up and running, we'll get this rolling.

*A non-profit*
Jonty and I strongly believe this should be a community-run non-profit.
There's a structure available to do this: a company limited by guarantee
(CLG). With a CLG, there are no shareholders to profit from the

Further, there's a couple other tweaks you can make when you form a
company to ensure it's run in a not-for-profit manner. The other bonus
with a non-profit is that you can get some tax breaks. (A charity in the
UK is heavyweight and more tricky to run, but a CLG set up in this way
can be converted into a charity at a later date.)

*Why so soon*
Once we have a company and a bank account we can start fundraising
properly, and people should have confidence if we're a non-profit
company. It gives us a name to register domain names with. If things
don't go to plan, you have my assurance that I'll deal with the messy
business of winding it up ;).

*Not restricted to us*
We also believe that this company shouldn't be restricted to the London
hack space project. It should be set up so we have to option to start
other spaces (or other spaces can take advantage of). If we do all this
stuff, we can cut down on the red tape for other hack spaces in the UK,
which can only be a good thing.

*A name*
Because we don't want to restrict it to London, I'd like to keep the
name of the company separate from the name of the actual space. Unless
anyone has any other ideas, I'd like to suggest the Hackspace

*An object*
The objects of a company are the company's purpose and are recorded in
the company's founding documents. A company can only legally trade if
it's in support of the objects. Most normal companies don't really need
to worry about objects, but it's more essential for non-profit
foundations. So the broad-but-not-too-broad objects I'm proposing is:

"to promote and support science, engineering, and art"

That's about it, congratulations if you've read down this far :).
Hopefully I've managed to demystify this whole thing a bit. Comments, as
always, gratefully accepted.




Feb 2, 2009, 11:28:08 AM2/2/09
to London Hack Space
Just some loose thoughts here:

Name: As a London-based endeavour, it might be nice if the hackerspace
limited company name gave a sense of that locality, especially if
others will be opening elsewhere in the UK. Hackerspace London ltd?
Object: "to promote and support science, engineering, and art" might
want to add "by establishing a common space to work in" ?

Competitiors: Something I've been thinking about is the fact that in
London, a lot of resources are spread around and maybe some of their
structures would be something this project could learn from:

Structure: Might be useful to be able to establish a group of people
from the early start of the project who will become the shareholders
of the company. Even if they carry no weight and no profit are
distributed to them, they do have to make the key decisions about
where the project goes.


Russ Garrett

Feb 2, 2009, 12:08:12 PM2/2/09
So, we've gone ahead and done this now (sorry Alex, you were slightly too
late ;) - the Hackspace Foundation is now a limited company. We've got to
sort a couple of other things out, but this means we're in a good position
to start promoting ourselves going forward. More details soon!


Ciaran Mooney

Feb 2, 2009, 1:29:35 PM2/2/09

You guys are quick. Keep it up.


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