European firm looks to redefine co-working experience

A new co-working model born in the United Kingdom may soon redefine the shared workspace experience for business startups in the U.S., including budding entrepreneurs in Central Pennsylvania.

Startup Home, a UK-based company, is planning to launch its first U.S. facility in Philadelphia this spring. Instead of just offering space for work, the company’s facilities also offer places to live.

Harrisburg and Pittsburgh could follow by next year, said Don Pollard, the company’s U.S. business development effort and a Harrisburg native. 

“Our mission is to redefine the co-working experience by providing the practical elements of a co-working space and combine them to functionally operate under one affordable co-living residential space that attracts entrepreneurs and startups,” Pollard said.

The capital city has become a growing hub in recent years for innovation and young technology-related firms, plus there are strong educational facilities here such as Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, he said.

Think of Startup Home as somewhat of an incubator, Pollard said, but with programming and activities that can help businesses grow more quickly. And it’s open to anyone with a scalable business, not just tech companies.

“The premise is to help each startup grow, maintain and scale,” he said. “We’re not just providing a desk and bed. We want to help you with resources and the tools to grow.”

Those resources include a network of mentors and investors, plus events such as pitch competitions and hackathons. Living in that work environment with other entrepreneurs, who may have different skillsets and their own networks for financing, also can open doors for startups.

Startup Home’s facilities are larger than most traditional co-working spaces. Each home will be about 15,000 to 20,000 square feet and house anywhere from 15 to 25 entrepreneurs. They also will include dining and laundry facilities.

Monthly rents for Startup Home spaces in Philadelphia will range from $1,200 to $1,800, making it affordable and comparable to a one-bedroom apartment minus the programming amenities. 

As it grows, Startup Home will work with local and state governments as well as universities and business groups to get access to developers for real estate needs and make connections with entrepreneurs that could thrive in a co-working and co-living environment. 

Funding will be an ongoing effort, Pollard added, as the company is interested in speaking with angel investors, venture capitalists and private investors.

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