By Dennis Clemente
NEW YORK— In seeking the wisdom of the crowd at the Product Council meetup last February 29, Projective Space heard from a panel of product designers about how to improve the on-boarding process for startups. One of the panelists was Brad Hargreaves, co-founder of General Assembly, who also presented his new project, Common, a flexible community-driven housing providing fully furnished, month-to-month memberships.
Hargreaves, Raschin Fatemi of and Gil Kim of General Assembly took turns asking questions and giving feedback to Projective Space, a curated membership community for entrepreneurs, creatives and innovators. It holds interviews and asks questions from potential members.
Suggestions and concerns from the panel:
- Have fewer questions to ask interviewees; check application process of online colleges and implement a system to give them a call before completing application.
- When asking fewer questions to lower barrier of entry, they need to get back to asking 10 questions to get the right member
- Do Open Houses instead of one on one interview
- Check social accounts to to vet potential members
- How are they okay with being wrong, how they are okay with rejecting people, how many are they willing to reject
- How are you using referral program? Referrals create narrow community
- Consider if the problem is marketing, not product.
- Be creative about the funneling process
- Don’t just make it exclusive
- Do an event
- Find out value of vetted membership
- Change interview questions with members and ask them again
- Build space related to what people do
- You need to hard sell because your competition is doing the same thing
After the panel talk, Hargreaves talked about Common. He said the idea came to him when he was at General Assembly and wondered where their students, many out of town, lived. While sharing apartments is good, he knew there were always problems with household chores and people leaving even before cut-off dates.
In providing something like a co-living space for transients, including how it was going to exact fees, he thought of 4 principles for for Common:.
- It had to be inclusive –all supplies, cleaning, one price
- It had to be transparent– why a particular amount for rents
- It had to offer flexibility- Other people really like month to month
- It had to be comparable with other rentals in pricing
This Spring, Common will open its largest home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Havemeyer home will have 12 suites and 51 bedrooms spread across almost 20,000 square feet of living space. Since opening its first home in October, its members have taken the initial concept of community. In addition to our weekly potluck dinners, Common residents have organized a book club, movie nights, even a hackathon.
The home is within blocks of popular local restaurants and bars, including Radegast Hall, Momofuku Milk Bar, Peter Lugers Steakhouse, Xixa, Traif, and more. In addition, its home is only a few minutes’ walk from the Marcy Avenue J M Z – one subway stop away from Manhattan – and not much farther from Williamsburg’s L and G lines.