Q+A: Jaron Garrett, Co-Founder of Dreamapolis

Meet Jaron Garrett, Co-Founder of Dreamapolis, an exciting new start-up accelerator and seed-funding source for start-ups, social entrepreneurs, creatives and innovators. Dreamapolis provides a platform to inspire young minds and encourage entrepreneurial growth. I chatted with Jaron about the inspiration behind Dreamapolis, their newest project, Tinkertown, and his advice for those wanting to take those first steps into starting a business.

What sparked the dream that has become Dreamapolis?

I noticed and realized that there were so many underprivileged and under-resourced individuals with great ideas, but it was very difficult for them to bring their ideas into fruition. I wanted to create a space and resource that would eliminate some of those obstacles.

I love your “dollar and a dream” motto that encompasses the vision behind Dreamapolis. What are some things that you have done so far that you are proud of?

Wow, we ourselves had to create Dreamapolis on a shoestring budget, or “a dollar and a dream,” and with that, so far, we have helped launch over 20 companies and organizations, taught over 300 individuals in our workshops, raised thousands of dollars for start-up companies and organizations (in part, through PitchFeast, a bi-monthly crowd funding, micro-grant dinner), and help create a series of networking events that have connected hundreds of Indianapolis creative entrepreneurs to resources who would have never otherwise had (the) platform to connect with.

I appreciate that you’re always encouraging others to use creativity, which brings me to your latest project, Tinkertown. Tell me about it and how the project is coming together.

Tinkertown is a space for entrepreneurs and makers to come and, from just a concept or idea, be able to create a product. We are giving individuals access to almost a million dollars worth of equipment, from laser jet cutters and 3-D printers, to industrial sewing machines and the entire AUTOCAD software suite. Someone could come in with only an idea and be able to hold that very thought in their hand, and even possibly sell it, creating a space where you can go from idea to retail, all under one roof.

To put this together, we needed to connect with other local companies and organizations with similar interests, and work together to accomplish the same goal. We have identified some amazing partners, such as TechPoint Foundation for Youth, HURCO and Ivy Tech, who are making great strides to help us make this project self-sustainable and successful. We also learned from our friends at TechShop on how to build a great maker space.

This is another way you are providing resources to creative people and proving that there are no limits to imagination. What would you like to see come out of this project?

I would love for businesses to be created out of this space. Designers to create clothing lines. Individuals to learn skill sets and crucial training for advanced manufacturing employment, to support the ideas that are created. Ideas to become real and imagination to grow without limits.

Is there anything you would love to build or create?

Yes. I personally like to build contemporary designed furniture as a hobby. I built my daughter’s bed and re-designed several antique pieces that were thrown away as trash. I have always been a quiet engineer, who loves to build and tinker.

One quote that came to mind in connection with Dreamapolis is from rapper Common, whose lecture I recently attended in Indianapolis. His speech was very inspiring, and he spoke of how anything is possible if you believe. He said, “Find your path, believe in your path and live your path.” I believe that has a strong connection to the foundation of Dreamapolis and how you believe in helping individuals take their ideas, make them come to life and succeed. I especially think that relates to your Dream It Forward program. How much success have you seen with this program so far?

A lot, actually. We began that as a summer program for youth, and now we have been able to partner with Chase Legacy Center and Launch Fishers to teach entrepreneurship at Tech High School and Harshman Middle School. We are actually helping them build real businesses and even funding those businesses. Whatever money they make from their business is all theirs to keep; the only caveat is that they have to stay in school and graduate. Here, we use entrepreneurship as motivation for students to stay in school and do well. This way, students who don’t see algebra and geometry as useful don’t feel like they have to drop out in order to make money for their households.

Do you have any advice for any future entrepreneurs?

Never give up. You WILL fail, and you will make mistakes. Learn from them and keep moving forward. Learn to love your failures; not everyone is fortunate enough to have them. But learn as much as you can from them, and become even better from it. Everything you need is available, don’t be greedy, and be willing to learn along the way.

How can people help or be a part of Dreamapolis or Tinkertown?

Get in contact with us. If someone wants to help us at Dreamapolis, send us an email: jaron@dreamapolis.com, and let us know what you would like to do and how much time you can commit. Or, if you are interested in becoming a member of Tinkertown, visit www.tinkertownindy.com and reserve your membership before they sell out.

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