For Penn junior Dan Shipper and his buddies, this is what the summer looks like: Get to the office at 10 a.m. Work till midnight on your startup. Take FIFA and Jimmie John’s breaks in between.
“The office” is an apartment on the top floor of a Penn student housing high rise, where a group of six young entrepreneurs — five Penn undergrads and one recent Princeton grad — have been spending most of their summer. A few of them even live there.
They develop new products and take sales calls, all while tightly packed into a living room filled with laptops and monitors of every size, the quintessential whiteboard and books like Eric Ries’ “Lean Startup.”
Call it coworking for undergrads. In very close corners.
“Luckily,” says the sought-after Shipper, “we’re all friends and no one smells bad.”
Two startups are currently headquartered in the apartment: Airtime and GraphMuse.
Airtime, which offers in-email advertising for businesses, was co-founded by Shipper and fellow Penn undergrads Patrick Leahy and Justin Meltzer and launched in January. They recently took on another Penn undergrad as a marketing intern, who’s working with them this summer, and are working on a new product.
GraphMuse, an invite engine for Facebook apps, was co-founded by Penn senior Tony Diepenbrock and recent Cornell grad Chuck Moyes (though Moyes isn’t working in the Philly office this summer). The team is currently working on launching an invite widget. Recent Princeton grad Ryan Shea, who was originally working on his own project, is now also helping out with GraphMuse.
The office-apartment is a useful setup for a few reasons, Shipper says.
For one, it’s nice to have other people around to talk through ideas, he says.
They’ve also got everything they could possibly need nearby: there’s a gym in the building and a Jimmie John’s right outside. They’ve got an Xbox 360 for “FIFA showdowns” when they need a break. They’ve even got a fancy Chemex coffee maker (Diepenbrock says he’s a bit of a coffee snob).
“There’s no reason to go anywhere else,” Shipper says. “It’s awesome.”
Though unfortunately, when the school year rolls around, they’ll need to find a new spot to work. Let’s just hope it’s in Philly.
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