Startup Home wants you to live at its Pittsburgh co-working space

Could you live with your co-workers?

Startup Home in London

Startup Home in London

courtesy of Startup Home
MJ Slaby

No need to worry about paying rent to your apartment landlord and the rent for your office space — it’s all one bill. There’s no commute to work. Your work friends are always around to hang out.

Startup Home, a United Kingdom-based company, puts a twist on co-working by having the people who work there, live there, too — a concept coming soon to Pittsburgh.

“It’s an opportunity for the entrepreneur to focus solely on their startups,” said Donald Pollard, Startup Home’s U.S. business director.

The company has four Startup Homes in London and plans to open a Philadelphia space this year. The first of two Pittsburgh locations will launch in early 2018, Pollard told The Incline, and the company is currently building partnerships, fundraising and scouting spots here, with no set spots announced yet.

Its current London locations have a mix of residents — some are for just entrepreneurs, while others are for specific groups of entrepreneurs or types of startups. In Pittsburgh, the first Startup Home would house ten to 12 residents, be geared toward women in tech or women entrepreneurs, and occupy about 10,000 square feet, Pollard said.

Pittsburgh’s second space would be bigger — 15,000 to 25,000 square feet, with room for more entrepreneurs and more workspace including room to test augmented and virtual reality, he said.

Don’t call it a dorm

While the idea of living and working in the same space may sound a lot like being in college again, Pollard and Simone Tarantino, the company’s U.S. executive director, stressed it’s not.

“It’s not that collegiate experience of a dorm,” Pollard said.

Instead, he said, it’s more collaborative because the companies are working together to help each other grow. Plus, Startup Home provides programming that dorms didn’t, Tarantino said; think talks, pitch competitions, hack-a-thons and access to mentors and investors.

There is a stringent vetting system for residents, Pollard said, adding that if a person or company is selected, they move in for six months. After that, the companies are reviewed to make sure they’re reaching milestones, but can stay for up to two years.

Another difference from a dorm? One person per bedroom. That helps keep logistics simple and membership affordable, Tarantino said. But it’s “not a way to save in rent,” he said, explaining that the prices for the Startup Home are calculated based comparable one-bedroom apartment prices, plus the cost of services and the co-working space.

The company started three years ago as a way to combine a need for housing with a startup incubator because, “London isn’t an easy city for housing,” but residents found there were added benefits of living together, Pollard said.

To help residents avoid burnout, Tarantino said, Startup Homes are in neighborhoods with other things to do. There’s also the camaraderie that comes with the other residents. They’re “all there for the same reason,” he said.

More and more co-working spaces

The number of co-working spaces in Pittsburgh continues to grow. In April, NextPittsburgh reported there were about 30 in the city, with several leaders of those workspaces saying there was room for more.

Startup Home is drawn to the city — and state overall — because it’s close to New York and Washington D.C., the real estate is affordable and there is a large amount of talent, said Pollard, a Pennsylvania native. He also mentioned Pittsburgh’s tech scene as a draw, listing off companies like Google, Uber and Ford.

The goal is six Startup Homes in the state — three in Philly, two in Pittsburgh and one in Harrisburg, before expanding to other parts of the U.S., Pollard said.

William Generett, president and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Urban Innovation21, said he also likes the idea of a cohort of entrepreneurs living and working together, as well as the possibility of tailoring it to a specific group. Although, he added that he hopes there will be a way to subsidize costs to increase affordability. Generett said Urban Innovation21 is still figuring out its level of involvement.

Another local supporter is Chatham University — specifically, Rebecca Harris, director of its Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship. (Pollard also suggested the campus as a possible location.)

“We are intrigued by the concept and excited that Pittsburgh has been selected as their next location,” Harris told The Incline in an email.It says a lot about the strength and vibrancy of our local entrepreneurial ecosystem.”