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The Real Estate Angle to a Start-Up House

Certainly there is no shortage of money in the technology sector, and that’s growing rather than shrinking. Real estate agents and brokers want to reach relocation clients moving to town for those extremely high-paying jobs. I wrote about being the “start-up agent” in 2013. It’s still do-able.

How? Here’s one an idea to kickstart your efforts:

Fund/sponsor/build a local start-up house.

These types of houses exist already in some places. For example, Hackersurfing (funded/run by WeFunder) and StartupHouse in San Francisco. There’s Krash. Kansas City Startup Village (see this listing in the Hacker House & also note Brad Feld’s test 2 years ago). NYC Startup House (is this in operation?). Fargo Startup House. Omaha has one that was just in the news. There’s even one on the Georgia Tech campus.

Why not in your city?

A vision for a Startup House in Seattle.

A Startup House would be a Seattle tech community building play first and foremost.

A big house somewhere in Pioneer Square, Belltown, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Fremont or Ballard. 4-5 bedrooms with a big living area and dining room containing a large table capable of seating at least 10. The furniture wouldn’t need to be luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, just comfortable.

Community dinners once per week. We (Oren, Will, and I) did this in Santiago throughout our 6 months of Start-Up Chile. The community we built around Wednesday dinners (nicknamed La Mesa Verde) is the thing I miss most about Chile.

Host out of town entrepreneurs from other cities who are in town for business trips.

Monthly talks/meetups to showcase the stories of the people and companies in the Seattle community. Maybe team with John / Todd at GeekWire to moderate.

Pick a local Seattle charity, and raise money both from entrepreneurs hosted there (I’m biased on this aspect since this is exactly what Horizon could facilitate) as well as from community events/meetups.

Make it a “Zillow” (sponsored) house, giving them a lasting branded presence in the center of the Seattle Start-Up community. Real estate + tech = Zillow.

What’s needed to pull it off:

  • An awesome location that’s fairly easily accessible. I think Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, or Belltown are the best bets.
  • An investor to front the money to purchase an amazing pad. That person could be a traditional real estate investor, or a champion for the Seattle Tech ecosystem (there are a few potentials such as Madrona, TechStars, UP Global, Zillow, Jeff Bezos, Rich Barton, Nick Hanauer, etc). Or perhaps a brokerage such as Windermere or Coldwell Banker Bain sees an opportunity to grow mindshare in the Pacific Northwest by taking a central role in such an initiative.
  • A real estate agent/broker to put together the deal (in exchange for some permanent branding/role in the startup house going forward).
  • Sponsors. Whether it’s Zillow in a big way, or a combination of multiple local technology companies (who all want to reach a wider selection of great talent) – there would be money needed to maintain the house, outfit it, throw events, and market it.
  • Someone to live in, and consistently grow the community. Yes, that could be me/Horizon, but I want this to exist for Seattle regardless of whether or not I’m involved.

Are any Seattlites interested?


Yes, as an agent or broker, a startup house is certainly well outside the box. It’s not the normal thing to invest in. It’s playing the long game. And, those are all reasons why it should be interesting to the right agent or brokerage.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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