Fluxus Ventures Partners John van Oost and Jon Bartelt recently attended Co-Liv!, a conference on affordable housing and co-living ecosystems. The conference, which was held in San Francisco from December 7-9th, was one of the first global gatherings dedicated to the emerging topic of co-living.
Co-living can be broadly defined as any shared housing situation designed to encourage community and collaboration. Compared to a normal apartment, a co-living space is likely to have more occupants per square foot, smaller bedrooms or private spaces, and larger communal spaces. It is also common for co-living occupants to organize events and to share resources and responsibilities. The co-living concept is catching on not only because fitting more occupants within a rental has the potential to decrease rent, but also because people living in cities are increasingly lonely and looking for genuine friendship and community.
As a leader in real estate innovation, Fluxus Ventures has been interested in co-living concepts for the past two years. Our first investment is this space was a seed investment in Urban Campus in 2016. We strongly believe that tenants increasingly value community, functionality, and design and are becoming less concerned about overall square footage and apartment building size. Many presenters at the conference supported this view and stated that tenants desire to be part of a vibrant community and to live in close proximity to friends. We believe this trend has the potential to disrupt the real estate market, which has traditionally focused on building large apartment complexes that have little to no communal space and actually aim to increase privacy at the expense of community.
Many presenters at the conference told amazing stories about how they built co-living companies from the ground up. We heard from the founders of Open Door, Ollie, The Collective, and The Camp. Each of these founders has put their own touch on the co-living experience, and they were excited to share their experiences. It is clear that the concept of co-living is catching on given that each of these companies is growing quickly! We also heard from PUREHOUSE LAB and the founders of Qwerky, who are exploring how new technologies can be used to elevate the co-living experience. Fluxus believes that new technologies will be extremely useful for co-living operators since many issues surrounding building access, shared payments, and communication can be difficult to manage with current systems.
John van Oost spoke at the conference during a panel discussion about the risks and opportunities of financing co-living ventures. He also contributed to a panel discussion on the future of co-living. John spoke about his previous experiences investing in real estate and about his more recent investments as a venture capitalist at Fluxus Ventures. He also talked about Urban Campus and some of the financing challenges and successes they have had.
Overall the Co-Liv! conference was an amazing learning opportunity, and Fluxus Ventures was happy to be a part of it! It is clearer than ever that the market for co-living is growing and that renters want to live in well-designed communal spaces. Fluxus will continue to learn about co-living and hopes to find and invest in new companies that are working in the space!