Common, a New York-based shared living startup, raised $7.35 million in Series A funding. Venture firm Maveron led the round, which also included Lowercase Capital, Slow Ventures and Dave McClure’s 500 Startups.
Founded by veteran tech entrepreneur Brad Hargreaves, Common plans to offer rooms in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights on a short-term basis to students and young professionals new to the city.
Hargreaves explained that Common plans to lease entire walk-up buildings for 10 or 15 years, and then rent out individual rooms on a month-to-month basis for rents ranging from $1,200 to $2,000. The company will manage the property, and offer its tenants a number of services such as Wi-Fi, weekly cleaning, communal areas and supplies such as paper towels. In essence, the firm is turning Brooklyn brownstones into mini-dorms.
Hargreaves, who previously founded the education and training company General Assembly, said he has signed a lease for one building and is in talks for several more. He explained that Common will use the fresh cash to hire, invest in software and prepare the buildings for occupancy. The firm recently lured over Simon Jawitz, formerly a top executive at Goldman Sachs and a board member and Bank Leumi USA, as its CFO.
Common is part of a small boom in co-living spaces. Shared-office company WeWork has launched its own venture, WeLive, and plans to offer short term rentals at 110 Wall Street, among other buildings.
Campus, another startup, had a business model very similar to Common’s, but was first to shutter in June. “We were unable to make Campus into an economically viable business,” read a note on the startup’s website. Hargreaves hopes to be more successful by focusing on hipper neighborhoods – Crown Heights as opposed to Midtown – and by working more closely with landlords. For example, Common will assume all management responsibilities and offer building owners profit sharing as part of the lease agreement (presumably in exchange for lower rent).
“We only lease vacant buildings,” Hargreaves added. “We don’t touch anything that has an occupant, and we don’t touch anything that’s rent stabilized.”