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09.10.2015

Living and working together: the most intense way to start a business

Image | Nest Copenhagen

Sharing an apartment is a common practice due to the current economic crisis. Apartment mates do not have to be close friends, but they live under the same roof, share expenses, and save time by divvying up chores. In the same way, coworking spaces are joint workplaces where a range of people or companies – normally freelancers and small startups – share an office to cut costs. Daily contact with these people spawns new ideas and facilitates the organisation of new projects. For some years now, both concepts have come together in coliving or cohousing efforts, a model designed to combine work and housing that got its start in Silicon Valley and is quickly spreading throughout the world.

Coliving entails different entrepreneurs with different career paths living in the same furnished apartment for a given time, without worrying about anything but paying the rent and working on revolutionary products and solutions. Managing the housing is the responsibility of a company, which pays the bills and takes charge of maintenance too. In this way the entrepreneur can focus on letting his talent flow, in a quality atmosphere, and is spared from the search for an office and, later, commuting time.

It was the California entrepreneur Phil Fremont-Smith who in 2012 launched onto the market one of the USA’s best-known coliving companies: Krash. Since 2006 there has been recognition of the need for a more economic and efficient coworking model. Thus, based on the model of a hippie commune, a group of engineers decided to adapt the commune system to the needs of the 21st century.

Krash and WeWork, through the project WeLive, are some of the American companies offering this type of solution. Communal houses like The Rainbow Mansion, the Blackbox Mansion and PureHouse, and microapartments, just over 320 square feet, are some of the options that entrepreneurs can find in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC and New York. Krash claims that its accommodations have already yielded over 200 startups, and its success is such that the trend is gradually being introduced into Europe.

The Californian company Airbnb is one of the first to import temporary coliving experiences into Europe. During the first edition of 4YFN in 2014, an event running parallel to the GSMA Mobile World Congress, the Entrepreneur hosts entrepreneur initiative was implemented to put up international entrepreneurs at the homes of local entrepreneurs. Airbnb repeated the experience in Seville during the Evento Blog España 2014, and, more recently, during the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival. And CEOs heading up important startups like Shahar Weiser at Gett and Or Offer at SimilarWeb shared their apartments for a few days with international entrepreneurs.

One coliving initiative implemented in Europe is Nest, a Danish startup that has set up a space in the centre of Copenhagen where up to 21 enterprising young entrepreneurs can live and work. The house is divided into four apartments – with a capacity for 4-6 people – and common areas, designed to encourage the exchange of ideas and the development of new projects. Nest is in charge of the candidate selection process, to ensure that the residents share common objectives, so as to guarantee that the community runs smoothly. Some say that it could be the largest and best coliving facility in the world.

A remarkable coliving facility in London is CoHome, a residential project for entrepreneurs dedicated to the values of the collaborative economy. It is a space arranged around a main room that during the day serves as an office, in the evening as a space for events, and at night is transformed into a living room. CoHome, in addition, features creative weekend activities, like hackathons, talks and other types of startup-related events. Jonathan Baillie, one of its founders, explains that they wanted to take it a step further by offering a multipurpose space, conceived not only to foment the exchange of ideas, but also so that anyone can enter and organize an activity.

Coliving can definitely be a good resource for entrepreneurs who want to save when they are getting their projects started, in addition to enjoying a complete experience, during and outside traditional working hours.