Ivy League Startup Offers Brooklyn College Students Co-living Opportunities

IvyStart o ers “coliving spaces” allowing college students and young adults to live together, forming lifelong bonds and networking opportunities. / IvyStart

There is a new lodging possibility for Brooklyn College students, by way of a young co-living startup company called IvyStart.

IvyStart was founded by Chad Fong, a junior at Cornell University as a way for young entrepreneurial Cornell students to share “co-living spaces,” which foster creativity and networking that can help students in their field.

“It is for people interested in living with other young, passionate, and entrepreneurial professionals who want to develop strong friendships, connect to a community that helps them achieve their goals,” said Fong.

“Co-living” is a new trend popping up all over the city. It’s a professional and organized spin on normal dorming that stretches past college age. Its intent is to provide affordable group housing for like-minded people, students, and professionals alike to work together and create friendships. The trend has led to multiple companies opening houses in Manhattan and Brooklyn, such as Common and WeLive, and has since become a multimillion dollar industry. Adam Neumann, the CEO of WeLive’s parent company, WeWork, is worth $2.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Co-living has become particularly popular among millennials, who face a disconnected public world and desire physical connection aside from their online ones. The homes have been nicknamed “hacker houses;” The New York Times called them “The Millennial Commune.”

Some argue that the new trend sells millennials on the hippie dreams of the 1960s, and the sense of a false utopia, but Fong argues IvyStart doesn’t collapse into these pitfalls. He claims his company attracts a different group of younger professionals, and has an application process, unlike many of the other companies.

“Many of these co-living spaces don’t have any focus or theme to their community,” he said, pertaining to the fact IvyStart is specifically geared towards college students and recent graduates in the entrepreneurial field.

Chad Fong developed the idea for his startup after working as an intern for a venture capital agency in New York City, which provided investments to startups in real estate technology.

“I had previously worked in real estate and was extremely fascinated by what was happening in the startup world,” he said. “After learning more about the co-living trend in NYC, I wanted to create a co-living space that would help connect entrepreneurial people.”

The company was initially intended for Ivy league students, hence the name, but has since grown to accept other Northeastern schools as well as Brooklyn College and the other CUNYs.

They advertise the homes as “flexible and affordable” on their website, and provide amenities such as Wi-Fi, furniture, and cleaning services. IvyStart also organizes group outings at home and around the city for its members. All members of IvyStart are handpicked by way of an online application and interview via Skype, and are allowed to move in whenever there are spots available.

IvyStart currently has houses in the Bed-Stuy and Bushwick areas of Brooklyn, as well as their original location near Cornell. Among the three locations they have around 45 current members. 25 percent of their total number have attended an Ivy League institution.

“We’ve had many students and alumni from CUNY schools (including Brooklyn College) apply to join IvyStart,”  Fong said. “And we highly encourage anyone who is looking for a fun co-living experience to apply to join.”

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