Join For A Coin - Uni Student Promotional Idea

Now that the new and returning students have been successfully installed into their digs and are getting on with uni, I thought we could be a bit smart and get some interest without an entire months commitment from cash strapped but possibly future hackers…

So here is my idea, somewhat plagiarised from a certain gym who’s boss used to be on Dragons Den…

“Join for a coin”

For £2, someone with a UoM/MMU/other-uni-in-the-region email address can come to the space, and join for just one week. This is a taster to get them in and seeing if it works for them. Low commitment, but likely to gain interest and thus new members, which we sorely need looking at the accounts.

After that week, it’ll expire but they can add a payment method for £12.50/month if they want to continue access. It’ll then be a normal account and member. The promotion is just for the first week and does not create multiple tiers of membership.

how it will work

  • Special sign up form
  • Only works for uni email addresses
  • Email requires confirmation to prove access to uni email
  • Account marked as promotional to prevent others from taking advantage
  • User must “buy” an induction for the promotion at which point the account is marked as active for one week. This means they pay something but without having to set up a DD
  • Fob only collection, no post option.
  • Otherwise full membership
  • Given the time limited nature only allow purchase of the induction from on the space WiFi itself. That way there is no complaining about it taking three days to find someone to let them in, which is almost half the promo time.

I’ve looked at the code for the membership system and there’s many ways we can do it. I’m not too worried about this bit.


Someone could join for a week and take the drills in the same way someone could join for a month and do the same

Fake uni accounts? Maybe Limite the accepted universities to MMU/UOM etc


Students come in, can try it out with no real risk to them financially. If they like it they can set up regular payment like anyone else.

Eye catching slogan and will get interest especially if promoted using Instagram adverts.

If someone additionally wants to go to the physical uni buildings and put up posters I can make some ones up.

Probably one for the board to approve but I’m on for doing this.

Thoughts? Ideas?

Even easier option that I just thought of - get them to set up a Direct Debit but the first one is only for the week at £2.

That way by default the subscription will continue. We would need to be clear about this and it may put some people off but it’s not too bad a dark pattern given the easy process to cancel.

Personally I’d be a little concerned of someone just joining for a week then walking off with a load of stuff.

Typically allowing people to come in and use the stuff without being a member was what we had open evenings for when there was a lot of people around.

Yeah I get the intuition, but when you think about it there’s nothing stopping someone joining for a month and running off with the tools after a week anyway. It just means that would have paid £12.50 (actually £13 because the membership system can’t manage pence :joy::joy:) instead of £2 for them which is negligible anyway compared to the cost.

I think this is a great idea. Maybe reduce it to £1, which is a significant discount, vs. £2, which is still something like 66% of the minimum fee anyway.

I personally am not too worried about people singing up in bad faith and nicking stuff. If you really wanted to do that, it would only cost you £12.50 right now anyway.

Ideal scenario is we get a new new members.

I’m definitely in favour, and I think the risk is low - especially considering we’ll be requiring a university email that happens to be reasonably traceable should mischief occur.

In the future I’d also suggest we look at the 18+ collage students (we have three major campuses around us, within walking distance), and Open Uni students too.

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Is there an issue with making it anyone with a *@* address? That includes staff and students at universities and schools (only 6th form would be able to join, because age rules). It also aligns well with most student or educational discount rules, and is easy to validate.

It’s not like we are offering a continual discount, so having it open to a slightly wider demographic than our target doesn’t matter too much, and if staff were to join under it, I don’t think that would be a problem anyway

Edit: Maybe - I know UoM doesn’t, but I believe some unis hand out alumni addresses that would pass a simple domain is validation.

I’m definitely happy for a £1 offer. I was originally trying to max out what we could under a definition of a coin but £1 is probably what most people think of when they think of a coin.

In terms of I was a little more cautious but I think that was just intuition about allowing any when in reality it likely doesn’t expose us to any more risk. A cursory search didn’t bring up an immediate way to get an email without actually enrolling somewhere. I also love the idea of including staff too!

So yeah great suggestions guys thanks :blush:. I’ll have a check with the Boarduinos and if they’re happy with it I’ll get it implemented.

May need assistance for promotion of it though!

From my point of view I’m a bit more cautious
because of some of the stuff I have on long term loan to the space.

One example would be the really big aluminium ladders I brought in that get quite a lot of use (such as the overhead wiring)
They come in two parts, one is two ladders connected by some ribbon, the second is a third part that can be added on or used separately
They’re really lightweight and even though they don’t look it are probably more expensive than they look.

I think from what I remember while we were upstairs we had some issues with the door being left open
so I got a bit paranoid and padlocked them up on a number padlock to a bolt on the wall.

I’d hate to have to do that again while we were downstairs but depending on how much checking is involved or if the board would cover the cost of replacement if they went missing.
Then I might be tempted to start padlocking them up on a number lock again just because they’re so easy to carry around.

So this is deviating away from the original topic but the tool loan form that I’ve mentioned in the past has a section at the end for an agreed value incase something like that were to happen.

Obviously you need to negotiate with the board and come to an agreement as they may say no. Either way it would still be your choice on how to proceed.

If you feel the risk is too great then it may make more sense to remove your stuff from the space. The ladders for example have been a great asset while carrying out infrastructure work but if you have to padlock them away they’d loose their practically for other members to use very quickly and would just be taking up space.

And just to be the devil’s advocate, we have bolt cutters and tools that help in breaking locks etc. If someone wanted to take stuff its not hard to get unfortunately. We just rely on honest members and insurance

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Not sure I’ve ever seen the door be left open here now we are downstairs. Now we face the street everyone seems very aware of security

It’s not so much the door being left open btw in this case.

It’s more the ease of access from the above, if the individuals are checked to be students and the level of trust implied based on the little value required to gain access.

Another point might be if this would cover the cost of consumables (such as if someone went to town using the bandsaw and it needed a new blade afterwards)

Typically we have some members that tidy up after themselves (such as vacuming up the wood dust emptying the bins, putting tools back etc) and some that assume someone else will do it later on.
If we have a large number of students attend on a cheap budget, could this result in a lot more work in terms of others tidying up afterwards etc? Just a thought in any case.

As far as the bolt cutters, you would have to know they were there then go to the trouble of finding / using them which I think would be enough of a disincentive vs just picking something up and walking away.

For what it’s worth, the major tool and other losses we’ve suffered at LHS have been down to

  1. Abuse and breakage due to lack of knowledge or care. By far the worst problem.
  2. Uncontrolled tidying : people rage-clear and discard stuff they don’t understand
  3. One or two persistent thieves (ie not someone who joined, stole and was never seen again)
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I really can’t see students and/or academics (who have an unsatiated desire to steal ladders) suddenly rejoicing because an organisation has offered them a chance to do so for a quid. And this is assuming they couldn’t have afforded the £12.50 it would have otherwise cost them, and assuming that they already have a good hunch that this building contains easily stealable ladders.

And re. consumables being used up excessively, I don’t think these students are suddenly going to acquire a lorryload of steel (for example) to cut on the bandsaw and wear out a blade (I think we have at least 10 spare blades anyway). They’ll just be able to come and poke around in the one week they have.

What I said before was “depending on how much checking is involved”
Which basically means can we have some way of checking that they’re actually students?
So far I think the suggestion is checking the email address they’re using such as

What I’m trying to avoid is someone trying to run they’re business on the cheap by getting us to pay for new blades etc.
I don’t think we have 10 spare blades btw, or at least I’d be surprised if we did (I had to get a couple of bandsaw ones before on mail order but that was a while back)

I think we also need to be very clear that they need to tidy up after themselves as well.

Given we have cleaning up issues at the present without uni students I’d kindly suggest it’s the existing members who need reminding about cleaning up after themselves.

Part of signing up involves the usual onboarding. If this isn’t stated strongly enough then let’s break out into a new thread to discuss onboarding generally as this thread is just about the promotional offer.

I’m not sure what student finances are like these days, but to me the reason I don’t join more hackspaces (I have at least 3 that I’d consider within reach) is not a one-off cost comparable with a snack meal such as £12.50 for a month’s tryout, but the need to commit to paying it every month.

What would make me join others is a method whereby I could make a small contribution every month (no more than a couple of quid so even multiple accounts were lost in the noise) but pay a proper monthly fee for any month where I attend and use the facilities.

I’m well aware that no hackspace could exist if all members did that and didn’t actually pay more (though LHS does have a large number of members who essentially just pay a low fee and help us survive, especially during pandemic conditions - we would suffer if they stopped) but I’m just trying to analyse what stops me and maybe others from committing. Understand your market :slight_smile:

but if someone had a fabrication business, I think it’s a stretch to assume they would try and scrimp (on the cost of consumables) by taking advantage of a one-week offer to use someone else’s equipment for next to nothing. They’d still be paying the rates, rent, etc. of the business they already have…

So are you suggesting students pay a monthly fee of, say £2, then pay extra if they actually wanted to use the space?

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It would be easy enough to implement. Student membership of £2 keeps the account active, and any scan in activates the direct debit being taken and provides access until the same date next month

It’s essentially an automatic way to do what is already available - without having to re-enter direct debit details each time

that’s a cool idea. So an £8 “30-day usage fee” or similar?