One of the big issues we've been trying to work through as the iHub advisory team revolves around access to the space. This involves items such as usage of the space, openness, accessibility, and a focus on community. How do we ensure that everyone has a fair shot at getting in, yet not getting so overcrowded that it's not useful.
Our answer lies in a membership model. This model will likely adjust over time as we figure out what works, it's iterative.
Anyone can become a member of the iHub, provided they work in the tech field (programming, design or research), and they have 2 referrals from current iHub members. Upon acceptance, you're given a special ID card that permits you entrance to the iHub for free. It will have your picture and a QR code on it to scan when you enter/leave, and it will be tied to your "member profile" on the site.
This first level of membership is for anyone who meets the basic pre-requisites outlined above. It's a free pass into the iHub, giving you the ability to hang out, have meetings, surf the web and work on projects with others in a great environment. Welcome to the iHub, you're now part of the community.
The catch on the green card is this, if we get too many people coming in at certain times of the week giving us capacity problems, we'll likely need to institute a cap on the number of days, or peak-days, per week per person. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
There have been a fair number of people and startup organizations requesting permanent space in the iHub. We're not convinced that this is our primary role, we see the iHub as more of a pre-incubator space. However, to accommodate this group we're instituting a second tier of membership, the Red Card.
The Red Card gets you a semi-permanent desk, a locker and first-dibs on the meeting room space. As we figure out the data connectivity, we're also considering allocating a dedicated amount of it to this select group. Right now we only plan on having 12 cards available at any one time, and these Red Card seats will go for about 10,000Ksh/month.
You'll notice that these are "semi-permanent" spaces. We want these Red Cards to be open and usable by more than the first dozen who get to them, so our plan is to set a time limit on them of 3-6 month intervals, thereby giving others access to a more permanent space at the iHub. Anyone with a green card can apply for a Red Card, but know that preferential treatment is given to people/teams who can prove concrete progress towards a specific project/product's goals.
These are all-access, all the time, passes. They are only for the advisors, who then bear full responsibility for anything going on in the building after-hours while they are in it.
Doers & Talkers
We have never promised equality within the iHub, doers will be given preferential treatment to talkers and browsers. It's a meritocracy, where those who create new and cool things are given more and better access.
Having said all that, we're trying to make the whole process of getting in to the iHub as fair and transparent as possible. Please keep giving us feedback, let us know what we can change to make it better.