Startup life can be rough. You need to be on 24/7 to make your idea work and sometimes that means sleeping under your desk and skipping important networking events that may help you scale your business. John Whatley saw this issue happen over and over again while working at the Atlanta Tech Village. His solution? Founding DreamHouse, a co-living incubator that offers affordable living and office space in one plus monthly mentorship opportunities, all inclusive bills, hackathons, and much more.
The residences, soon to be spread throughout the city with the first one being in Grant Park, all with flexible leases and even grocery delivery and personal chef dinners, aim to reduce the stress behind overhead costs and help entrepreneurs focus on what really matters — making their startup viable. DreamHouse also offers networking opportunities along with events and speakers on site to help entrepreneurs find the best team member for their company. “When we began to explore why startups fail today — 29 percent cited increasing costs and overheads, with 23 percent attributing their failure to not having the right team,” says Whatley.
Here, Whatley talks to Hypepotamus about DreamHouse’s membership features, how entrepreneurs can benefit from a co-living/working arrangement, and what kind of startups he’s looking for the upcoming inaugural cohort.
What’s the concept behind DreamHouse?
DreamHouse conceptually takes the benefits of co-working: access to great resources, networking of like-minded people and similarly staged startups, and marries them with the best parts of co-living: community, openness, sharing, and collaboration. We call this combination co-existing and this is what we hope all our residents experience while living with us.
How did you come up with the idea?
The idea came about when I was working for a real estate company based out of Atlanta Tech Village. I was told of a startup team whose coders would bring sleeping bags to the office just so they would not have to be interrupted while working. These guys would literally sleep on the floor of ATV a few nights out of the week. I thought innovation and dedication do not have to be uncomfortable and wondered how many other teams suffered from the same issue. After a little research, I found that many startups, young professionals, and artists were in need of not only space and resources but also a network of people who genuinely cared about them doing better. This led to our second mission of eradicating loneliness and re-inventing community in our digital age.
What’s your background as entrepreneur? How does your background experience help you lead this incubator?
Our team members have a wide background across several industries including real estate, international trade, philanthropy, customer service and venture capital. We purposefully built our team to be able to provide our tenants and partners with the best experience possible, while still having the foresight to grow and scale as a company. Along with a philosopher and anthropologist founder, we also have a network of mentors guiding us along the way.
What’s the benefit of co-living within an incubator? How is it different than other incubators?
All-inclusive bills, a network of startups, and the ability to work on your idea in a comfortable environment are just a few reasons to stay with DreamHouse. We take the thinking out of living so you can focus on the things that matter to you most. We hit the sweet spot between co-working and co-living. This idea, we coin as co-existing, is something we hope that every startup will gain from staying with us.
What kind of entrepreneurs/residents are you looking for?
We are finding that it is becoming harder and harder to successfully start a business today. We realized that DreamHouse did not just have to focus on providing an affordable live/work environment, it could also help hundreds of entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses. That being said, we are typically looking for early startup teams, young professionals, and artistic creators to house and help grow into mature functioning companies. (You can apply here.) We also partner with coding/design schools to house out of state students participating in their programs.
While living there, do you have speakers and mentors help residents fulfill their goals?
We offer monthly mentoring from vetted mentors from around Atlanta and abroad through partnerships. With online platforms we are able to service a wider industry of startups and small businesses and we hope soon to partner with galleries as we expand to artists.
How do the memberships work? Do you have members already on site?
Our cohorts run for 9 to 12 months unless otherwise noted, we are currently taking applications for our first cohort that will be opening, optimistically, at the beginning of next month. We also partner with coding/design schools to provide housing for out of state students participating in their programs. We are flexible in negotiating short-term leases in that particular case.