Krash begins national roll-out of communal residences for entrepreneurs

Company-supplied photo of the first KrashPad location in East Cambridge.
Company-supplied photo of the first KrashPad location in East Cambridge.

Last March, I told you about an experiment in communal living for entrepreneurs called CrashPad, which had opened its first location in East Cambridge.

A lot has changed since then. CrashPad changed its name to Krash. Its husband-and-wife founders, Jennifer Fremont-Smith and Phil Fremont-Smith, are now working on it full-time (initially, they’d both had other ventures.) And they’ve raised some money from local investors like Jay Batson and Bill Warner.

And though Krash hasn’t begun hyping it yet, the company is planning to expand to four additional cities this year. The first KrashPad outside of Boston, in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood, opened earlier this month. Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles are in the works.

Jennifer Fremont-Smith, Krash’s CEO, wasn’t willing to share details on the funding, which closed in January. But she said that she expects the Chicago and Washington locations to open later this month, and Los Angeles to follow in April. Krash currently has three locations in the Boston area, and plans to add more.

“We’ve been at 100 percent occupancy in every property we’ve had from Day One,” she says. “And we have a very strong application pipeline.”

Most of the Krash locations, in existing houses or apartment buildings, fit only about a dozen residents. Often residents are in town for an accelerator program like TechStars or MassChallenge, which last for about three months. KrashPads are fully-furnished, and the kitchens are stocked with coffee, tea, milk, and basic cooking supplies. Cleaners show up weekly, and wifi is included. Krash also organizes a weekly guest speaker series. Here’s some text from their ads on Craigslist:

Krash is a flexible living solution for entrepreneurs trying to create and build their brand. Whether you’re an innovation guru or a tech genius, Krash brings together the best and brightest. Connect with your fellow residents, build companies, explode your network!

…Krash isn’t just a residence. It is also a network of thinkers and doers. Surrounded by people who share your passion and dedication, we hope to boost creativity and collaborative endeavors. If you’re stuck on a problem, maybe another set of eyes could help. 

jfremontsmithFremont-Smith wouldn’t tell me how much it costs to live at Krash, and the company’s Craigslist ads don’t divulge that either. Prospective tenants must apply to join the community, and at some point, I presume, they’re informed about the rent. Current tenants in Boston say it is $1200 for a shared room, and $1600 for a single. Rent may be higher or lower in other cities.

Fremont-Smith says that each new city will have a general manager, a community manager (to help organize events and serve as a liaison between tenants and the startup world), and a facilities manager. It’ll be interesting to see how well the business scales, given that managing small parcels of residential real estate scattered around a city comes with plenty of headaches. Also, with a model that promotes month-to-month stays and relatively high rents, KrashPads will have pretty steady turnover.

Angel investor Jay Batson says that one reason he put money into Krash is that he thinks the startup’s approach to co-housing could  appeal to groups beyond just entrepreneurs. “There’s a Baby Boomer segment that might look at this and say, ‘I’m an empty nester, and don’t want to cook every night, and I want to be around others in my age group,'” Batson says. “So maybe Krash develops a higher-end experience for them.”

Krash recently hired Marie Burns as director of talent acquisition and former tenant Adam Boyajian as project manager for expansion. According to Burns’ LinkedIn profile, “We’re rapidly scaling Krash nationwide in 2014 and soon after, internationally.”

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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