I started a coliving business in 2013. We scaled it to 3 locations in Spain, California, and Portugal.
Hi <<First Name>>,
Hello from Amsterdam 👋 Just came back from Prague and quarantining now.
I started a coliving business in 2013. We scaled it to 3 locations in Spain, California, and Portugal. Then pivoted it into a completely different business (company retreats) while still keeping the brand.
Why you’re getting this: I'm Peter Fabor and this is my newsletter where I share insights of building products that combine hospitality, real estate, and tech. Feel free to un-subscribe below, I won’t be offended.
Workspace area of my coliving in Canary Islands (it was actually a garage)
The best time to start a coliving business? Probably now.
Perhaps I'm not the best person to advise people on how to start a successful coliving business but I'm definitely an expert in “what to avoid" 😀
Dozens of people reached out to me over the years asking for help with launching a coliving business. I started to see some patterns...
A lot of VC money has been burned in the coliving startups, traditional hospitality companies started to build coliving brands too. Now is a great time to build an independent coliving brand and surf the wave they've built.
Many people working remotely from home because of Covid will realize that they can actually be anywhere. Being a digital nomad for 2-3 months a year will become normal.
Most of the content I've researched online about starting a coliving business was complete bullshit, so I started to write a series of articles that I'm going to share on my blog in the next weeks.
I'm excited about this industry and sharing this content might help me to connect with interested people (my goals in general with this newsletter and blog).
Is important to mention that advice I'm going to share applies to coliving operations between 10 and 50 units.
Not rocket science but it takes time
Coming from tech, I was used to making quick iterations of the websites/apps.
But with real estate, it takes much longer. We experimented with 3 different property setups: shared apartments, a large villa, and a guesthouse.
Most people eventually figure these things out but it can take years when they lose the drive and money. Actually, it can be many years if you buy a property or sign a long-term lease.
Coliving is a low margin business and there is not much space for big fails or expensive experiments (unless a VC is sponsoring it).
This slide perfectly summarizes unit economics of a coliving space:
I recently had a call with a girl starting a coliving project with 6 shipping containers in the countryside of Germany.
When I asked her why shipping containers (a horrible solution for any type of housing) and why only 6 units, she answered me that because containers are cool, that's how they decided.
Makes sense to start small but it doesn't always work in real estate and hospitality. I learned it hard way.
The project was in a very early stage but she didn't want to even discuss it when I challenged her decision.
We launched new “products”: workations for small teams and full-buyouts near large cities. There is some traction after the summer but it’s hard for companies to make a decision now when they want to organize a retreat in the next months. Let's see.
After the launch in July, I gave this project a little break in the last weeks. Backyard offices looked like an appealing niche to launch but I wasn't very successful with the marketing activities on Product Hunt, Reddit, and outreaching journalists. I’m planning to add many more prefab houses of other categories in the next weeks.
This site was launched a few weeks ago but it's becoming the “go-to” place for people researching housing and neighborhoods in Lisbon. I made a lot of iterations since the launch and now testing a few business models.
Will share more updates in the next weeks.
Have a great end of the week and if you would to ask something or share some ideas, feel free to hit a reply