We’ve all heard of coworking (shared office environments) and early stage seed venture funds like Y Combinator. After reading the Fast Cities 2010 article in this month’s Fast Company Magazine, I got an idea to mix the two and take them a step further: early-stage work-live programs. In Boston, there are work-live buildings for artists that are all the rage:
ArtBlock, for example, is an old schoolhouse the city granted to a developer on the promise that half of the renovation include art studios, galleries, and live-work units. “It’s an effort to use our tools to create permanent space for artists,” says Heidi Burbidge, ASI’s senior project manager. “It’s helped revive the art scene.” ASI has already created hundreds of new housing opportunities and received more than 1,000 artist applications.
So picture a company that buys a large building in a big city. There are two stories – one for living, one for working. The living floor has small studio apartments. The working floor has a collaborative work environment, similar to coworking. The company accepts applications from early stage web technology companies, mostly from students and young professionals, and invests seed money in these companies in exchange for a small percentage of their business. They use their professional network and their experience to help accelerate the growth of the company, similar to Y Combinator.
The new companies get a dedicated environment where they can eat, sleep, and breathe their new startup with other like-minded, supportive young companies. The parent company funding this gets ownership in the start-ups as they would in a traditional VC setup, but they also get to have a much stronger influence over the success of the companies and the people by putting them in an ideal environment.
Thoughts? I’ve never heard this idea even discussed so I figure I’d throw it out there. Good idea/bad idea?