Highlights from Scott Kirsner’s Innovation Economy blog.
Entrepreneurs already have access to flexible office spaces where they can rent desks by the month, share resources such as printers, and meet others like them.
So where are the flexible living spaces, where they can rent a bed, share a kitchen, and schmooze over supper with other entrepreneurs?
Two local tech entrepreneurs who have done a bit of real estate investing recently opened CrashPad, the first “co-housing” facility for entrepreneurs I’ve heard about locally. It’s already full, and they have plans for similar facilities in other cities.
Phil Fremont-Smith runs ImpulseSave, a start-up that promotes saving over spending, and his wife, Jennifer Fremont-Smith, runs Smarterer, which creates online skill tests. “We have a long history of buying, renting, and selling houses in Salem and Portland, Maine,” Phil says. CrashPad aims to serve entrepreneurs new to Boston, helping them “find a group of like-minded innovators, and be able to get to know them by living with them,’’ he says, adding that they had “no trouble” filling a six-bedroom house in East Cambridge with 12 tenants, who moved in last month. Some are participating in the TechStars Boston entrepreneurship program or the Startup Institute, which trains people for jobs at start-up companies.
Phil Fremont-Smith says the longest possible tenancy will be four months. “It’s like a particle accelerator. We take people from different places and backgrounds and crash ’em together,” he says. “What happens is magical.” The first tenants are paying about $1,000 a month, though that rate could change, he says.
The furnished house not only comes with two kitchens, a living room, and high-speed Wi-Fi but also a programming director who will arrange guest speakers and events such as wine tastings and an in-house “resident facilitator” who does things like coordinate dinner. Interestingly, there’s no TV (but there are cleaners who come by twice a month.)
This “beta” CrashPad is a rental, but Fremont-Smith says the couple may consider buying properties in the future.
Fremont-Smith says that the couple are “looking at properties in other markets — anywhere there is an innovation economy. This is not just a backyard project for us in the Boston area.” He says the couple have raised money from individual investors to get the Cambridge CrashPad going and potentially launch others.
Closing in on 1 million subscribers is BookBub, an e-mail newsletter operated out of Cambridge. It’s essentially a “daily deals” e-mail for avid readers, offering free or discounted downloads of what cofounder Josh Schanker calls “acclaimed books” in digital form.
And BookBub was only founded in January of last year.
Schanker says got the idea for BookBub from talking to a friend, Jennifer 8. Lee, who had started an e-book publishing company. “It seemed like publishers were looking for ways to build awareness for their titles and authors, and they wanted to spend money doing that, but no one was there to take their money,” he says.
Readers sign up for the free BookBub newsletter and specify preferred genres. Each day, they get an e-mail touting three to five free or discounted e-books. Publishers and independent authors pay to be listed.
Why do authors or publishers pay money to promote e-books they’re giving away for free? “At the very basic level,” Schanker explains, “it may be to get more exposure for themselves as an author, for the publisher, or maybe for a book series. Everyone is trying to build up an audience base.”
The company has six people in Kendall Square, but Schanker says he’s about to post another five or six job listings.