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Makers in Medellin

That's Miah King, left, helping building a bicycle-powered electric generator. King is in Medellin, Colombia, launching makerspaces, places where inventors, entrepreneurs and artists can create collaboratively.
Special to the Daily |

How to help

April 14 Miah King and his partners are launching a crowd funding campaign, so they can nail down a home for their makerspace in Medellín, Colombia .

Their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gora.makerspace/.

Their Instagram: @gora_makerspace

Their website is http://www.gora.space. It’s in Spanish.

MEDELLIN, Colombia — Miah King wanted to see the world. He got as far as Medellin, Colombia, and decided likes what he sees.

He also sees something better, and that led him to the makerspace movement. He and some friends launched a makerspace in Medellin, where people want to be entrepreneurs, but most don’t know how, King said, so he’s taking a shot at international business.

“I always wanted to have my own business, but I didn’t want a 9-to-5 job or deal with the corporate ladder,” King said.



So, instead of 9 to 5, how about 24/7?

What’s makerspace?



A makerspace is an interdisciplinary open access workshop that functions like a gym.

You pay a membership and get access to all the equipment and training. Instead of treadmills and weight machines, you have 3D printers, laser cutters, welding equipment and all kinds of other tools.

Companies launched through makerspace are competing in a NASA robotics competition, printing 3D prosthetics for kids who need them and created an online platform for the development of software for drones. They’ve made a gravity light and a bicycle electricity generator for a 3D printer.



“Go to one of their spaces and they have generally what you need to make things,” King said.

What’s at least as important is all the classes and workshops they offer and the accepting atmosphere you tend to find.

“You can’t be afraid to go in there. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, but you have all the resources you need to do almost anything,” King said.

It’s just work

Makerspace is common around the U.S., but almost no one in Medellin knows what it is. However, here are plenty of makers who need that space.

“We just have to bring them out of the shadows,” King said.

Like anything created from scratch, it’s work but worth it.

“Each day that goes by we believe more and more in the capacity for the maker movement to change the world for the better,” King said during a phone call from Colombia. “If anyone shows up with a project they want to do or a prototype they want to make, there’s always something you don’t know how to do.”

Engineers sometimes need artists to make an idea beautiful. Artists need engineers because beautiful things should work.

“With the internet you can learn anything you want. The next step is to use that information. Makerspace is the ability to do that,” King said.

Vail guy doing good

You may have heard of King. He was born and raised in the valley, graduated Battle Mountain High School and from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2013.

His dad is Tommy, mom is Debbie and his sister is Leala.

You may also have heard of Medellin, but for the wrong reasons, such as drug cartels and Pablo Escobar.

“This image haunts the city still, but it is now so far from the truth,” King said. “Medellin has come so far and its people have overcome so much. There is still much to do, but the city is united in its passion for creating better life for its people,” King said.

A couple years back, Medellin was named the world’s most innovative city in the world, beating out New York City and Tel Aviv, Israel.

The city’s poor tend to live in the hills and didn’t have access to the city center, where the jobs are.

Medellin created a mass transit out of gondolas, giving residents access to everything, especially the job market in the city center.

“They’ve overcome so much. It’s going the right way and things are getting better,” King said.

Failure to success

King started spreading the makerspace idea a little over a year ago. He partnered with an engineer named Fernando, who designs and builds his own bicycles.

They have built a small community, but because they have little to no money, they’ve been kicked out of three locations.

“It has been the most difficult challenge of our lives, nothing short of an emotional roller coaster,” King said.

King had to learn Colombian culture and the business climate, which has helped in launching makerspace.

“The people who show up are the people who take initiative. They’re willing to fail in order to succeed,” King said. “The culture exists. That’s what I realized. They have the desire to be entrepreneurial. We’re trying to create the opportunity.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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