Picture a house full of young entrepreneurs, trying to make it in the tech world, working long hours, pouring their heart and soul into their app. And then, at the end of the night, they climb up the ladder of one of the several bunk beds in their room, turn off the light, and try to catch a few hours of sleep before hitting it hard the next day.
That’s the idea behind Founder House, a relatively new coliving space with three houses in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan. The beds go for $1,200 to $1,500 a month (with discounts for longer guaranteed stays) in houses of 15 to 20 people. The houses are all four or five floor walkups with two floors of common space, like living rooms, game rooms, office space and kitchens. The upper floors are group bedrooms.
“The central idea behind Founder House is that we believe a person’s level of success in life is determined by more than anything the strength of your network,” cofounder James Ingallinera said in an interview. “We believe the easiest way to form a strong network is to live with like-minded people.”
Ingallinera, 27, has lived in five coliving spaces. After college he went out to San Francisco to join the startup gold rush. He stayed in the coliving spaces because they were cheaper, more flexible, and allowed him to connect with other people working on the same dream. His startup didn’t work out, but he learned a heck of a lot about coliving spaces. It’s this knowledge, he thinks, that’s why he and cofounder Justin Asuncion will be successful.
“What we’re doing is kind of the best of what I saw work from the business standpoint and from the community standpoint,” Ingallinera said.
The Founder Houses are located in Bed-Stuy, Boerum Hill, Williamsburg and Hell’s Kitchen, and more are planned. Unlike Common, which has raised a total of $23.35 million, Founder House is bootstrapped and growing off revenue, after a $200,000 angel round, for which Ingallinera made over 500 cold calls to investors.
“What we’re doing is pretty sustainable from a business standpoint,” Ingallinera explained, when pressed on the financial prospects of the company. “All of our properties are cash-flow positive. We don’t have to raise funding. To that end, we’re in the process of raising a real estate fund that would be set up with investors who want to invest in New York. We could then use that money to buy property and we’d go in to manage those properties.”
So what is the future of coliving? Will people really continue to want to move into dorm-style living for adults?
Ingallinera says yeah, totally, it’s better.
“I definitely think it will come a point where it makes more financial sense for people to do coliving rather than living in an apartment somewhere,” he said. “I think that it will become mainstream in the next 10 years or so, but there are a lot of nuances that need to be figured out, in terms of how to set up a space in the right ways, how to get the price down, how to get the community really good.”-30-
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