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CrashPad sets up communal, short-term living space for entrepreneurs in Cambridge

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 13, 2013 07:30 AM

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Entrepreneurs already have access to flexible office spaces like Workbar, where they can rent desks by the month, share resources like 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 in Massachusetts and Maine 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 startup that promotes saving over spending, and his wife Jennifer Fremont-Smith runs Smarterer, which creates online skill tests. "We have a long history buying, renting, and selling houses in Salem and Portland, Maine," Phil tells me. CrashPad aims to serve entrepreneurs who are new to Boston, helping them "find a group of like-minded innovators, and be able to get to know them by living with them." Phil says that they had "no trouble" filling a six-bedroom house in East Cambridge with twelve tenants, who moved in late last month. Some are participating in the TechStars Boston accelerator or the Startup Institute program.

But residents can't stay forever: Fremont-Smith says that 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 wave of tenants are paying about $1000 a month, though that rate could change in the future, he says.

mottoCRASHPAD.jpgThe furnished house not only comes with two kitchens, a living room, and high-speed WiFi, but also a programming director who will arrange guest speakers and events like wine tastings, and an in-house "resident facilitator" who does things like coordinate who's cooking dinner on which night. Interestingly, there's no TV (but there are cleaners who come by twice a month.) This first "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.

From the ads that CrashPad has posted on Craigslist:

Our mission is to drive residents success within the startup economy by creating an immersive living experience that accelerates those networks, provides deep supportive relationships, incubates innovation, and creates the access needed to succeed. Members brainstorm, practice pitches, and collaborate on projects as they live, cook, socialize, or just hang out at CrashPad. Mentors, investors, and supporters drop by for impromptu happy hours.

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(Photos supplied by CrashPad.)

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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