Startup founders set up hacker houses to recreate Silicon Valley synergy – TechCrunch
When Y Combinator started, the founders would move to Palo Alto, share a two bedroom with five others to save money, and exchange notes around the clock with their new like-minded roommates.
Now, as remote working continues and the pandemic persists, dozens of entrepreneurs are working from home around the world. Y Combinator doesn’t require its recent cohorts to relocate, and collaboration is a screen-to-screen affair.
Now that they can work from anywhere, many entrepreneurs are forming houses with other founders. Hacker Houses, the latest iteration of the remote work adaptation, looks like a nostalgic attempt to recreate some of the synergies COVID-19 has shattered. Generally speaking, it’s a nod to the digital nomad lifestyle, but in some cases hacker houses feel closer to Hype House, a TikTok mansion laden with sponsored indulgence and wealth.
For Greg Isenberg, growth advisor to TikTok and former chief strategy officer at WeWork, contractor houses are a signal of what the foreseeable future of construction could look like.
“The kind of vibe you used to get from Y Combinator just isn’t there anymore,” Isenberg said, as these homes could recreate some of the heartbreak and same ideas that defined the early days. from the incubator.
While some see the founding townships as vehicles for creating a more level playing field, critics say the model perpetuates Silicon Valley cultural constructs that favor white males.
In other words, the return of happy hours after work sometimes comes at a cost.
Product search, then TikTok
Michel houck, a former product manager at Airbnb and Uber, rented a house in Tulum, Mexico, in May 2020. He put $ 21,000 of non-refundable money on his credit card and invited friends and people over to him. he met on the Internet before boarding a plane. Anyone who came had to agree to a few rules: you have to pay rent, start projects, and you have to agree to start your business in public.
In total, 18 entrepreneurs, including Houck, trained The launch house. Residents include former participants of the On the bridge, product managers and solo entrepreneurs. On the plane, the founder of the house Brett Goldstein launched its first tool.
“How do you actually launch a consumer product? You need broad reach, influence, community and media properties together, ”Goldstein said. “I wouldn’t say we’re the next Y Combinator, but the next YC would look something like this.”
In just a few weeks, The Launch House has produced nine products, including a platform for discovering the best OnlyFans accounts, an anonymous Twitter bot that sends positive feedback, and tools that improve newsletter and email reading experiences.
Members of Launch House described the focus on inclusion when populating future homes and have just opened the application process for Launch House 2. One of the ways the home is trying to provide access to other people is to open up information and projects that residents build together.
The website has a Launch the library where manufacturers can submit their email addresses to access resources on how to create anything from a podcast to a clothing brand to a community.
“There’s this sort of mystical veil that surrounds a lot of entrepreneurs and founders,” Goldstein said. “The curtain has been raised and now you can have a social media perspective and see from the inside out what it takes to start and launch a business. “
Today, more than 1,500 people are on the Launch House waiting list. Many investors have approached the group to sponsor internal and external events and some companies have even applied for the right to make product placements.
The concept surely attracted an audience and imitators: an unaffiliated group called The Rocketship House posted a trailer on Twitter in October:
When contacted by email, the organizers of Rocketship House declined to answer specific questions about the launch or, as they say, “take off.” The group has confirmed that it is funded by a few large anonymous investors based in Beverly Hills and includes a mix of marketers and influencers who invest in social media. It is currently accepting applications, shaping itself as a TikTok mansion.
“Similar to Sway House [a residence for TikTok personalities], we’re going to be making fun and dramatic content focused on launching startups. We all live exciting lives and there is a lot of drama so we’re excited to show it, ”the email from Rocketship House read.
Not all business houses are following suit in terms of strategy, for more than one reason.