Capitol Hill’s proximity to the silicon alleys of South Lake Union causes a great deal of concern regarding the Hill’s changing character. But tech entrepreneur Andy Rebele saw the intermeshing of the two neighborhoods as the perfect opportunity to fill an off-beat niche in Seattle’s tech community in a form that has been thriving for years in San Francisco.
Last year Rebele and his business partner Andy Sack began renting a home in north Capitol Hill to open the IO House — a coliving, coworking space focused on fostering collaboration among tech entrepreneurs. Think guesthouse for creative, working people. Or, Real World Capitol Hill. For nerds.
“It struck me that Seattle really needed to have this to provide a startup eco-system,” Rebele said, who runs his own startup electric boat company. “Capitol Hill is exactly where I wanted it to be. The theme is that it’s at the intersection of South Lake Union and Capitol Hill.”
Beds at the 10th Ave E “hacker house” can be booked nightly, weekly, or monthly, with shared rooms as low as $40 a night and monthly rates around $1,200. There’s no minimum or maximum stays. Initially, guests book short stays through Airbnb and can arrange longer stays afterwards. The house is equipped with wifi, shared bikes, and a community kitchen.
Many of the residents have made the house their semi-permanent live/work quarters as they work on launching personal projects. House captain Matt Oswald recently took CHS on a tour of the cozy 5-bedroom, 2-bath house where no less than eight products are in various stages of development.
“For some people it’s convenience. For some it’s being around like minded people, a constant exposure to interesting people,” Oswald said. “I make sure everyone is getting taken care of, socially, culturally, and technologically.”
The current crop of hacker house guests are in vastly different stages of life and working on a surprisingly wide range of projects.On the first floor of the house, Jordan Schindler is running his startup pillowcase company, Nufabrx, which uses fabrics infused with natural oils to cure acne. He recently shipped 10,000 units in a month.
Upstairs, house guest Ben Fraizer is holding a programming session with employees of his mobile gaming startup Ace Teams. The group is working on Spirit Siege, a Magic the Gathering-esque game designed for mobile platforms.
We don’t if any of the input and output going on at IO House is as interesting as the dramas that went down back in The Real World: Seattle days of strangers sharing a roof in the city. Maybe the City Council will decide to regulate geek houses to make things interesting. But there are demo nights!
About once a month the house holds a dinner and demo night, open to the public, where house residents talk about their work. You can follow @io_house for updates. House guest Arno Klein, 43, recently talked about his Mindboggle software, which analyzes brain scans to diagnose and treat disease. Klein, director of neuroimaging at Sage Bionetworks, said the housing setup was appealing as a newcomer to Seattle.
“We’re trying to develop a community, not just a place where people serendipitously find folks,” Klein said. “It’s nice to be able to interact with a whole sector of the tech industry that I otherwise wouldn’t.”
The hacker house is just one of the many innovative shared work/living arrangements on Capitol Hill. CHS previously profiled several of the Hill’s coworking spaces, with more coming down the pike. The house is also just a couple of blocks from Metrix Create:Space and the Capitol Hill Urban CoHousing project, which is slated to break ground in April.
Rebele said the IO House is also intended to meet the high housing demand during Seattle’s TechStars conference in May, as well as those coming to town for Code Fellows Bootcamp.
“When someone is coming in from out of town and it’s tech related, this is kind of their foot in the door to Seattle’s tech community,” Rebele said.
You can learn more about IO house at grokhome.com.