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Hacker Dojo Needs $125K by End of August

The educational and social community for entrepreneurs, engineers and programmers kicks off another fundraiser to prevent the city's closure of the space for non-compliance.

 

Things might get ugly at by late-august.

The City of Mountain View has given the community coworking, events venue and socializing space until then to raise $125,000 to use toward certain upgrades, according to Katy Levinson, the dojo's director of development. They've already raised $124,000, half of the $250,000 needed raised for upgrades that would allow Hacker Dojo to come into compliance with the code.

Hacker Dojo announced Thursday a new campaign via Kickstarter to fundraise $30,000 and at various donation levels, donor could get gifts like t-shirts, LED kits, free classes or a guest speaker.

"Our options were that we either had to abandon our educational mission or fundraise," said Levinson. "So we decided to fundraise."

Established in 2009, prior to the city's crackdown Hacker Dojo would host large classes and conferences with more than 100 people. Now they've been limited to 49 people for the classes and they've stopped the conferences. Levinson explained that the interest just grew too fast.

"We had no idea when we started this what was going to happen," she said. "We knew that what we were starting was powerful, but we had no idea."

Among the challenges, Levinson—a robotics engineers—admits she knew very little about fundraising for a non-profit and "I’m figuring this out as I go along." That and because $250,000 "is a large sum of money," she said.

Also, while Hacker Dojo has been set-up in California as a mutual benefits corporation, they have not finalized their federal 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit that could make them eligible for most grants.

"We don't have systems in place to raise money," Levinson said. "When we began we weren’t focused on raising money."

But fundraising has become a priority. According to Levinson, "last week, [the city] came with another set of demands."

The city almost closed Hacker Dojo down in February, but they raised $25,000 by the deadline and installed an alarm. They hosted an an which brought in $5,000. And, according to Levinson, they've raised $115,000 from corporate donors like AT&T, , , Palantir and venture capitalist firm Andreesson Horowitz.

Still Hacker Dojo itself is not a startup, and its rounds of fundraising pales in comparison to what some startups get. Especially for startups like Pinterest, which had it's first home at the dojo, explained Levinson.

And though with one check venture capital could save Hacker Dojo, Levinson treads carefully around this area.

"We all know that possibility's out there, but it would be arrogant to assume that someone would," she said. "We are going to make it. I’m positive we are going to make it."

 

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