Maple Studios Completes Renovation, opens to new members

March 24, 2023

The renovated Maple Studios space on the campus of factory automation equipment distributor Ramco Innovations is now open. It’s designed to support early-stage industrial technology companies and founders during their startup to growth stages.

Since 2018, Maple Studios, formerly Maple Ventures, has filled gaps for industrial technology companies by providing support services, collaboration and workspace as founders built their products and their businesses.

Following the renovation, Maple Studios is continuing and expanding its offerings and embracing a the startup studio business model, which is loosely defined as a site where an established company supports new businesses.

Ramco President Hank Norem said the company remodeled one of its three buildings to dedicate to Maple Studios. The 10,000-square-foot space offers desks and offices available to rent as well as workbenches, private tinker labs and warehouse space.

The expansion means Maple Studios is now welcoming as members any companies building a physical product. Before, member companies were more aligned with Ramco’s lines of business, including sensors and electrical components.

Maple Studios Director Megan Brandt said she doesn’t aim to fill the space entirely but to have a few companies of different sizes join and allow them to grow.

Growth is also the focus behind offering fractional services from the Ramco team. Members pay to have Ramco employees provide administrative and other services when they are not large enough to support their own employees.

“If your team grows, that’s on purpose. That’s what we hope to do. You can always take services off, hire a team member for that if you’re at the point where that makes sense,” Brandt said during a 1 Million Cups presentation held at Maple Studios.

Alongside the physical upgrades, Brandt has spent her first six months as director polishing Maple Studios’ mission and identity.

She sought to change the organization’s name after discovering it generally fit the definition of a startup studio, a place housing early-stage companies and providing support from a larger established company.

Brandt said Maple Studios’ ability to pull from Ramco’s skills and expertise to advise and mentor companies sets it apart from other structured entrepreneurial programs.

Norem said Ramco’s 60 years in manufacturing helps companies when they have a product idea but “don’t know what they don’t know” about navigating the industry.

“We have team members here with lots of years working with manufacturing cycles, sales cycles, distribution cycles, they’re able to get that full picture with the experience that’s in this building,” Norem said.

Getting founders out of their basements

Before coming to Maple Studios, entrepreneurs Gabe Glynn and Brandon Hart were both working out of their homes.

Glynn, CEO of MākuSafe Corp., worked out of Ramco’s space before Maple Ventures was a formal offering and the company remains a tenant. Glynn said having a home base for the company outside of his home lent legitimacy to the business when talking to investors.

“In those early days when we were bringing investors not to my living room and not to my son’s bedroom to show them like, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re working on,’ but we brought them into a space like this — that went a long way in helping us get capital,” Glynn said.

Brandon Hart, CEO and owner of HartSmart Products, was looking for ways to grow his 3D printing company when Norem spoke at 1 Million Cups about Maple Ventures.

In the few months Hart was a member, he said he learned what his next steps were.

“All the other resources that they made available to members of Maple Ventures really showed me what I was missing out on by continuing to operate out of my basement, so it was the kick in the pants that I needed to realize I have to get a commercial space,” Hart said.

He found a small space initially and in 2021 moved to a retail center located at 9850 Douglas Ave. in Urbandale. The company now sells and assembles 3D printers, designs and prints projects for clients, repairs 3D printers, and sells 3D-printing supplies.

From the Des Moines Business Record