root access hackerspace

Root Access Hackerspace, a new collaborative workspace in Fresno, is hosting a grand opening on Saturday. Photo via Root Access Facebook page

published on September 1, 2017 - 9:41 AM
Written by Bridget Butler-Sullivan

Local entrepreneurs Andrew Runner and Derek Payton will host the grand opening of their new collaborative community workspace, Root Access Hackerspace, this Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m.

“It’s like a gym for nerds,” said Runner, co-owner of the company. “You buy your membership, but instead of using the elliptical, you can use a 3D printer and a laser cutter.”

andrew runner derek payton
From left, Andrew Runner and Derek Payton are the founders of Root Access Hackerspace. Photo by Bridget Butler-Sullivan

Root Access offers a variety of amenities for its members, including workshops on everything from microchips to making faux leather from a byproduct of kombucha fermented tea. Located just south of Fresno City College, Root Access totals 2,700 square feet, and is divided into three spaces: a workshop, classroom and store. That gives members the ability to purchase, learn, and execute their project all in one spot — 1476 N. Van Ness Ave.

“It’s a collaborative community workspace that offers equipment and workshops that deal primarily with hacking. And hacking is problem solving,” Runner said.

There are currently four different membership plans for Root Access. The standard “hacking” fee is $59 per month, or users can purchase a yearly plan that guarantees one month free. Other options include a student and disability discount, as well as a weekend option perfect for those traveling from out of town.

“We want to make it more cool to be in Fresno,” Runner said. “If people are here for the weekend, we want them to have somewhere else to go besides bars and movie theaters.”

One endeavor the team is most excited for is hosting the Raspberry Pi Jam, an event meant to demonstrate various uses for the micro PC that can fit in the palm of a hand. It has been used for everything from a video game emulator to powering a robotic arm.

Payton and Runner will also participate in community events such as Valley Devfest, a Google development festival that will take place Oct. 22. There, the duo will demonstrate how users can make their very own Google artificial intelligence home assistant.

Runner said that one of their main goals is to help the community. For that reason, they allow various organizations around the Valley to utilize their space.

For example, Root Access plans to host Women in Tech and Valley Game Developer events in the near future. “As long as what they’re doing matches the hacking mentality, we’re happy to have people use the space,” Runner said.

The idea for Root Access started in early June, when the duo attended one of many tech-related meetings. “We were going to meetups like the ones we plan to host now, and we just kept thinking ‘Why don’t we have a space to do this. What if we had a hacking workshop?’”

So began the company. Since it opened in early August, it has gained 15 members.

Runner and Payton are both California natives, and Runner is particularly versed in the area, having been raised in Fresno.

Although the two are only working on Root Access at the moment, Runner said they are interested in opening a separate collaborative workspace in the future, but with a focus on woodwork and blacksmithing skills.

This Saturday’s grand opening is expected to have at least 40 people in attendance, according to Runner. It will feature hacking demos, 3D-printed swag, beverages, electronic music and a taco truck.

After that, the two are hoping membership will double.

“We’re excited to foster collaboration between people and the tech scene here in Fresno. Of all the places I’ve lived, Fresno is the city I’ve really come to care about, so I’m happy to see what the community does, and what they can create here,” said Payton.

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