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"Startup" is the name of the email list for those people who are interested in starting a Free Geek or similar organization. You can join the list at by filling out the form.

How to Answer Startup FAQs

Is there a Free Geek (like) organization in my area?
Maybe. Check our Free Geek Startups page to see a list of organizations already in formation.
How do I start a Free Geek or similar organization in my area?
See the instructions at Free Geek Startup Trademark Use Application for starting an official Free Geek. If you don't want to start an official Free Geek, that's still a good page to look at, since it has several links to other startup related pages,
Can I name my new organization "Free Geek" or use "Free Geek" in my organization's name?
In order to use the name "Free Geek" you need to be approved by Free Geek Intergalactic. To do that follow the instructions at Free Geek Startup Trademark Use Application. You will need to agree to our missions statement and principles and provide some contact information. Once approved, you can use the name provisionally, while we review your situation.
What if I want to do something a bit different than your principles and mission statement say? Can I still get official status?
Well if your idea is similar you might still benefit from joining the startup email list and we're usually happy to help out anyone doing something similar. However, to use the Free Geek name you need to go through the process outlines at Free Geek Startup Trademark Use Application.
We love what you're doing, but don't like the name "Free Geek". Can we still be an "official" Free Geek and call ourselves something else?
Well, no accounting for tastes ;-) but the answer is "probably". We haven't discussed this much yet, but it doesn't violate our mission or principles for you to call yourselves something else.
Are there people that can explain how things are done at Free Geek in Portland?
Sure! Join the startup email list and ask questions.
How do we set up a corporation? How do we set up our bylaws? How do we apply for our 501(c)(3) with the IRS?
We can't help you 100%, but we can tell you what we did and provide our documents. Email the startup email list to ask for this help.
Can we use your 501(c)(3)?
At this point, no. We are legally able open up other chapters of Free Geek anywhere in the US, but we don't have the time or energy to pursue those options right now. We are considering setting up an umbrella organization that would either help new organizations get started or provide some sort of legal structure, but this is in the very early stages of consideration right now. Remember, we have our own organization to run and can't stretch ourselves too thin.
The Free Geek Principles specify that official Free Geeks "Be democratically run in a non-hierarchical way that is open and transparent to all participants in its programs". Can you explain more about that?
Everyone who volunteers or works with your organization needs to have some sort of a say in how it is run. This can be achieved through membership election of your board of directors or through a community council model like we use here at the mothership. How this is done can be complicated, but it is a very important element of getting an official Free Geek status.
What are the benefits for us to be an official Free Geek?
Honestly, today there are not many tangible benefits other than you can use the name. There could eventually be many more benefits if and when we establish an umbrella organization that could help provide them.
Could you give us some leads on where to apply for grants?
Possibly, but it's a long shot. Send inquiries to the startup list.
Our understanding is that we need the 501(c)(3) status to be considered for most grants. Is this true?
Generally, yes. There may be grants for small businesses relating to recycling that do not need a 501(c)(3) status. Or you could consider finding an existing 501(c)(3) to act as a fiscal sponsor.
How do you make your money?
Surprisingly (to many people anyway) most of our money does not come from grants. Money comes from individual donations when people drop of equipment, sales of reconditioned hardware in our thrift store, online, or to wholesalers, from the sale of scrap material, and also from grants. See Financial Overview for more information on how we earn and spend money.
We've applied for official Free Geek status. Where do I send additional information about my application? Where do I ask questions about my application?
Send messages to

Things to Remember

  • Be enthusiastic and welcoming when responding to prospective startups!
  • Using Form Responses: Feel free to cut and paste from past answers and from the Form Responses, but don't be too blatant about the fact that you're sending them a form letter. In general, it's nice to start with a personalized welcoming note, and then say something like "see below for more information," and then paste in the appropriate form.