Lately, the trip to the office is the walk down the stairs for Sabastian Hunt, and Jason Feldman. The men helped form Year of the Startup, a program literally opening its doors to young entrepreneurs like Eric Burns- offering business mentoring and a place to live.
“Being able to live and work with people, entrepreneurs, that are trying to do great things has really helped propel my business and maturity as an entrepreneur,” said Burns, who's developing a wifi-based company.
He lives in a 4-bedroom house in Omaha’s Gifford Park neighborhood with Hunt, and fellow program member Chikadibia Ebirim, an artist.
Hunt and Feldman first make sure applicants will be good roommates- then look for certain business-related traits in applicants.
“They think they can do everything. And I really like that quality, because if you're not unstoppable, you'll be stopped,” said Hunt.
But the men know money issues can halt even the most-promising startup ideas.
“The unique component to what we do is we haven't had to raise a lot of money to get what we're doing off the ground.” Feldman says they keep one bedroom in the home un-rented so they can rent it to guests via Air-Bnb, a website that connects people needing a temporary place to stay with people who rent rooms in their home.
“We're fortunate we make enough revenue off of this to give us the option to invest in theses entrepreneurs via, living for free, plug them into mentors and resources.” The Air-Bnb revenue opens doors for both the program and renters.
For entrepreneurs with more-developed ideas poised to make money Year of the Startup offers a fellowship program- giving free rent in exchange for company equity.
Now in its second year, the program is taking off.
There are four houses and a fifth one undergoing renovations to become a 12 bedroom- flagship home.
It’s the genesis of a 'Start up Village' centered around 33rd Street and California St. that Hunt and Feldman envision.
“As we get more people it becomes a better product,” Hunt said.