Common Raises $7.35M to Make Housing Better

Choosing an apartment is the most expensive decision many of us make every year. Yet we face time pressure, limited and distorted information and an all-around poor customer experience. This is especially true in major cities like San Francisco and New York, where finding a place to live can be the most frustrating part of moving to a new city. The extreme financial requirements many landlords impose on potential tenants can force new residents to live with strangers they met on Craigslist. For example, in order to sign a lease in New York, tenants typically need 40x the rent in income and two years of tax returns demonstrating that income. For someone moving to NYC to start a career, this is often an impossible barrier.

I saw these problems firsthand as a co-founder of General Assembly. Over the past five years, GA has grown into a global educational institution spanning 14 cities with 4,000 students enrolled at any given time. Yet, despite more than 99 percent of job-seeking immersive students finding new, paid employment within 180 days of graduation, traditional leases remain frustratingly out of reach. These problems are not exclusive to General Assembly students; rather, they are symptomatic of a broader mismatch between the housing options available and the the lifestyles of people moving to major cities.

Enter Common – we offer secure, flexible, and community-minded places for people to live in major cities while eliminating the pain points that come with traditional leases. Common members live in private bedrooms while sharing kitchens and common spaces, limiting their financial exposure and making the residence more affordable. In addition, Common manages all aspects of the experience—from a seamless application process to weekly cleaning service to community events.

We’re able to accomplish this by aligning the interests of our customers with those of real estate developers and investors. Common works with real estate partners to purchase whole vacant buildings, providing a stable, market-rate income stream while removing the hassles of leasing, property management and tenant relations.

To that end, Common has raised $7.35 million in Series A financing. The round is led by Maveron with participation from Slow Ventures, Lowercase Capital, Dave McClure and a number of other individual investors. We partnered with Maveron because we see the opportunity to build an iconic consumer brand. Founded by Dan Levitan and Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Maveron was an early investor in companies including General Assembly, Earnest, eBay, and Zulily.  I got to know Maveron through their investment in General Assembly, and I am excited to continue my partnership with them and to have Jason Stoffer from Maveron join our board.
I am thrilled to be collaborating with this group of talented people and look forward to bringing new housing opportunities to cities where people desperately need alternatives to the current rental model.

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Product Manager, Space

Common is seeking a Product Manager to oversee the design and development of Common’s physical spaces. This unique role combines aspects of product management, design, architecture, and project management into a multi-faceted product role offering significant creative control and the ability to shape the way people live in the 21st century.

About Common

Common is a community offering flexible shared housing that makes it easy for people to find a place to live in major cities. Building a selective network of housing communities in top U.S. cities, Common connects vetted members with secure, flexible and inviting places to live within communities of their peers. Headquartered in New York, Common was founded by General Assembly co-founder Brad Hargreaves in early 2015.

About the Role

Common partners with real estate owners and investors to purchase whole vacant buildings in emerging neighborhoods, adapting them for flexible, higher-density use. By doing this, we’re addressing the fundamental supply and demand issues that underlie housing in major cities today.

Since our founding in early 2015, we’ve built an experienced team with backgrounds in operations, real estate, finance, design, and engineering. But in order to achieve our goals, we need to add a product leader to our team who can bring together diverse elements to achieve a vision of a compelling product that resonates with the consumer.

Different industries have different names for this kind of role. Some call it Head of Programming. Others call it Creative Director. Others call it Director of Development. For us, it’s Product Manager of Space, as this person will have full control and responsibility for our physical spaces as replicable products. And alongside our community, our space is the single most important product we offer at Common.

We are seeking an adaptable leader who can join our team full-time and manage our space as a product. We have significant financial backing and are building the 21st century’s first iconic residential real estate brand.

Qualifications

  • You have experience working with physical environments. This could mean a background in physical space design, physical programming, and/or architecture.
  • You have project management experience. You know how to bring together contractors, architects, designers, and business stakeholders to get a job done.
  • You have a product mindset, understanding how to simultaneously solve for the customer need and the business goals.
  • You know how to work within building code and housing laws, or you know how to find and work with people who do.
  • You know how to design warm and inviting spaces, or you know how to find and work with people who do.

Interested?

Email Brad Hargreaves at brad@hicommon.com