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It seems obvious that housing affordability and availability in cities like New York, Washington, D.C., Boston and San Francisco make it challenging for recent graduates to find a place to live. Recent graduates and those just getting into the workforce may not be qualified to get an apartment in New York City, forcing them to find an apartment elsewhere or live with individuals they do not know.
Brad Hargreaves wants to solve this problem. The co-founder of General Assembly, an institute for entrepreneurs and individuals seeking a nontraditional education, decided to launch Common because he knew many students and young professionals were struggling to find safe and affordable housing.
Hargreaves announced July 16 that Common raised $7.35 million in Series A financing, led by Maveron in addition to Slow Ventures, Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure, plus a few individual investors. Maveron was founded by Dan Levitan and Howard Schultz of Starbucks.
With its first building slated to open in Brooklyn this fall, Common takes the approach of micro-apartments to a community-centric level. Common buildings (which could be described as glorified dorms for adults) offer individual rooms ranging between $1,000 and $2,000 in rent, with shared kitchen and common spaces.
Common is centered on two key defining factors: building a community and offering flexible options for its members. Weekly events, such as Friday night tapas and meet-and-greets for new members, help to keep the atmosphere welcoming and collaborative.
Additionally, Common has a minimum commitment of 30 days, and leases then are renewed on a month-to-month basis. This, Hargreaves said, is important for a lot of people who are coming to the city for a short-term project or internship.
The company is working with real estate investors and owners to master-lease entire vacant buildings for five to 15 years, then operate and manage them under the Common brand. And although the housing is not specifically for students, there is a large need for this type of housing among Common’s partners.
“The next area of focus for us as we get closer to launch is going to be building more bridges with people already existing in the communities that we’re moving into. So building relationships with local small businesses and residents,” Hargreaves said.