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It’s Time for NextFab, Wilmington Delaware’s new spot to launch your business!

Updated March 24, 2021
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The pandemic has caused all of us to pivot, that’s nothing new. I think one of the more interesting things to come out of quarantine is that we are all considering how we work and make money. A number of my friends have even started up their own businesses based on their personal hobbies! This lead to me doing a little research in our city of Wilmington, Delaware to see what opportunities are available for our creatives to either keep “making” OR launch their own business. All signs pointed me to NextFab, the cooperative working space for the creatives of our city. I was able to get an exclusive tour and meet a few members along the way (view that video HERE), but I learned so much I needed to share the rest of the story behind this opportunity for entrepreneurs. 

So What’s NextFab Anyway?

NextFab in Wilmington, DE is located in the Creative District off of Tatnall Street.

NextFab was founded in 2009 by Dr. Evan Malone as THE spot for makers, artisans, and hardware entrepreneurs to pursue their hobbies and run their own small businesses. It provides everything from tools and equipment (we’re talking fun technology like 3D printers and LASERS) to consulting and training for business owners. It has 3 locations, 2 in Philadelphia and its newest spot in Wilmington on 503 N Tatnall Street right in the heart of the Creative District.

They are a membership-based organization that includes access to all 3 of their locations, with each space having a different focus. According to Location Assistant, Community Manager, and teacher Val Kent, “A membership at NextFab works much like a gym membership. You’re able to pay on a month-to-month basis, or at a discounted annual, rate. The more you use our equipment and other services, the more you enhance your creative skills. You get access to our spaces, software, digital and traditional tools, and other services without having to worry about the expensive, upfront costs and maintenance fees you’d have to pay if you purchased all of these things yourself!”

NextFab has 3 tiers of membership that include Flex, Standard, and Ultimate. They even have memberships for younger “makers” aged 10-17! For more information about memberships click here.

What’s in a Membership?

They also give a 20% discount on Flex or Standard member rates to college students or recent graduates, first responders, military personnel and veterans, educators, and senior citizens.

A membership gives you access to all 3 locations, in North and South Philly, and Wilmington. Each location has a different strength and expertise:

On our tour, we met maker Melinda Heron, who was working on nautical coasters based on images from old maps!
  • South Philly- geared towards prototyping and technology.
    • Departments on location:
      • 2D Printing and Photography
      • 3D Printing and Scanning
      • Design Software
      • Metalworking
      • Woodworking
      • Electronics
      • Laser Cutting and Engraving
  • North Philly- full jewelry studio, textiles studio and focuses on the local artisan.
    • Departments on location:
      • 3D Printing and Scanning
      • Design Software
      • Metalworking
      • Textiles
      • Woodworking
      • Electronics
      • Jewelry (the ONLY location to have this service!)
      • Laser Cutting and Engraving
  • Wilmington- we provide more of a focus on helping members to grow and sustain their small businesses.
    • Departments on location:
      • 2D Printing and Photography
      • 3D Printing and Scanning
      • Design Software
      • Electronics
      • Laser Cutting and Engraving
      • Woodworking

Your membership also gets you access to classes taught by employees and fellow makers at NextFab. Val Kent commented, “My favorite type of members are the ones who come in to learn how to use a specific piece of equipment for a ‘one-and-done’ project or to make a special gift for someone, then find themselves selling some of the products they made, just a few short weeks later, because they’ve gotten really good at it. I like to refer to these members as ‘accidental entrepreneurs’.” 

Jump Start Your Business!

What impressed me the most about NextFab was the opportunities for artisans to startup their business through their NextFab membership. This includes: 

  • RAPID Hardware Accelerator program– twelve-week program focused on helping hardware entrepreneurs jump-start their business by providing them with hands-on technical and business consulting.
  • Artisan Accelerator program- an 8-week experience that gives artisans and entrepreneurs the essential tools, support, and structure to focus on the things that matter to build productive businesses.
  • Incubation Program a nine-month commitment that includes office space at their South Philly and Wilmington locations, business coaching, workshops, events, guest speakers, and business competitions.
  • Crowfunded projects and promotions to help you raise the money you need to get your business off the ground.
  • A Jobs Board where members can view a forum for posting and finding freelance projects to capitalize on their skill sets or dip their toes in the water of developing their own business.

Shop Local!

Jim Cara of Cara Guitars works out of NextFab and has designed pieces for guitarists from KISS and country singer Lita Ford.

There are so many local business owners that use NextFab to create their visions. Shop local and support the following NextFab artisans that work right out of the Wilmington location!

What are some local small businesses you like to support in Wilmington, Delaware?

Follow NextFab’s Wilmington location in their Instagram and Facebook.

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