UK Firm to Offer Housing for Tech Startup “Friends” in Philly

Startup Home US, which adds living to the co-working experience, will open its first worry-free residences for tech (and other) entrepreneurs in Philadelphia this coming spring.

Startup Home's London facilities join the idea factory and the loft apartment at the hip.

Startup Home’s London facilities join the idea factory and the loft apartment at the hip.

Co-working spaces typically have several common amenities: meeting and gathering spaces, game tables, beer taps in the kitchen or even a pub room.

The newest entry in the co-working field, an import from the United Kingdom that’s launching in Philadelphia this spring, adds a few others: a living room, a dining area, and groceries in the fridge and pantry. And the office spaces come with bedrooms.

Startup entrepreneur, meet Startup Home, a “starter home” with a difference.

“Startup Home is really different from any other co-working space because we’re redefining what that space looks like,” said Don Pollard, Startup Home US‘ business development officer. “By adding a co-living component, our goal is to add support for startups at all stages to help them grow and scale their businesses.”

Think of it as “Friends” with real benefits, or like starting a business out of your college dorm room after you’ve graduated.

In addition to providing bedrooms and meals, Startup Home will offer its residents programming and activities geared towards growing their businesses. “We’re focused on collaboration and networking,” Pollard said. “We have a network of financing, mentors, investors and accelerators. We’re about providing resources and tools that each and every entrepreneur needs at that startup level.” Those tools also include events such as pitch competitions and hackathons that will bring residents together with others in the local tech ecosystem.

And to allow them to invest as much of their time and money as possible in their businesses, Startup Home takes care of all the everyday details of living for them.

“Any startup firm that’s launching needs to focus on the business and not have to worry about things like rent, grocery bills and utilities,” he said. “All of that is bundled into one affordable price so that the entrepreneur can focus on the business” and eliminate the need to do things like work on the side to meet basic living needs. Monthly rents for Startup Home spaces will range from $1200 to $1800 — “comparable to a one-bedroom apartment minus the programming amenities.” Startup Home will also be able to offer subsidized spaces to some startups through partnerships it has arranged. Each home will house anywhere from 15 to 25 entrepreneurs in 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of living and working space.

London-based Startup Home currently operates four co-living homes in its headquarters city, with one of them devoted exclusively to female entrepreneurs. Its new American affiliate, which is headquartered in Brooklyn, considered several East Coast markets before choosing Philadelphia as the place to launch.

“We looked at several key factors, and Philadelphia outperformed the other cities,” said Pollard. “Philadelphia sits right in the middle between New York and Washington and is convenient to both.” This, he explained, would make it easy for entrepreneurs to plug into the emerging startup tech ecosystem in DC, Silicon Alley in New York, and Philadelphia’s own growing tech sector.

“Philadelphia has some wonderful universities,” he said. “It competes with any other major tech city such as Boston, New York or San Francisco.”

It probably didn’t hurt that Pollard’s a Harrisburg native either. “I have an affinity for Philadelphia coming out of the shadows of New York and Washington because it has the ability to compete with those other markets.”

And it’s really the partners’ goal to encourage those would-be New York and DC entrepreneurs to stick around here after they move in. Startup Home US has partnered with Startup PHL, Philly Startup Leaders, those local universities and state and local government agencies to help build that support structure that will make the difference for the residents’ ventures.

As to where that first Startup Home will be located, Pollard was circumspect. “We’ve identified places in Kensington, Fishtown and University City as possibilities,” he said.

The plan is to open the doors of the first Startup Home by the end of the first quarter of 2017, with others following close behind. In addition to those three neighborhoods, Startup Home US is also exploring locations in South Philadelphia and Mantua as possible co-living spaces. And as in London, one of the homes will be exclusively for women.

Pollard also said that this was just a start for Startup Home in Pennsylvania: the company wants to help nurture the tech startup ecosystem across the state. “We’d like to launch three to five homes in Philadelphia, two in Pittsburgh and one in Harrisburg.” And. of course, since the three partners in Startup Home US hold the license for the entire country, they’re looking to expand pretty quickly into other states as well.

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