In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with Sergii Starosti from Outpost Club.
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Sergii Starostin, and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Outpost Club, a Brooklyn-based network of coliving houses throughout New York, New Jersey and San Francisco. We provide flexible, affordable, all-inclusive housing to people looking to join strong communities in high-demand urban areas.
We started Outpost in 2016 after having been frustrated with our own experiences moving to New York City. It can be so difficult to move anywhere new, especially a large urban area, if you don’t have a pre-existing network of support, and it gets even more difficult if you’re looking for somewhere flexible while maintaining quality and affordability.
In the three years since, we’ve grown into a bi-coastal operation and one of the largest coliving companies in New York City, all out of a desire to overcome one of the major challenges that keeps people from taking advantage of the opportunities that urban areas offer: simply being able to rent, live and thrive somewhere new.
The three prongs of our approach to coliving are flexibility, affordability and community. A college student moving to San Francisco for a summer internship can’t sign a year-long lease, for example, and a freelancer on a temporary project doesn’t want to pay for an expensive Airbnb. But in addition to the extreme demands of the real estate market in places like New York and San Francisco, we know from experience that networking and forming lasting friendships when you’re new to a community can be emotionally draining.
That’s why we have that third prong — community — so we can focus on allowing our members to lead fulfilling lives wherever they live, rather than just surviving. We think about community from start to finish: from the layout of a new home and how we design it to the events and networking we offer our members and the tools to stay in touch we offer former members.
What problem does your product/service solve?
Finding a nice place to live for a decent price is notoriously difficult in both New York and San Francisco, and from a landlord’s point of view, it can also be difficult to weed out potentially unreliable tenants.
Our services solve problems for both landlords and renters. We make better use of cities’ existing housing through master leases, giving landlords the peace of mind that comes with having responsible tenants guaranteed for years to come, at a lower cost to them overall.
For our members, we’ve taken the headache out of moving to and renting in large cities by developing a process by which we can screen potential members without requiring extensive documentation, exorbitant fees or background checks, and once they move in, they don’t have to worry about furnishing their apartment, setting up and paying for utilities, deep cleaning and maintenance or feeling lonely in a new city.
What are you most excited about right now?
I’ve been very excited to see the concept of coliving gain more acceptance over the past few years. We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to educating people about coliving, but we’re far ahead of where we were when we started Outpost in 2016. Coliving is the future of urban areas — I colive, myself — and it’s great to see so many new companies opening and spreading the word.
On a more personal note, I’m excited about how much Outpost has grown in 2019. We’re fortunate to have been able to nearly triple our membership from the start of the year, and we still have a few months to see how we’ll head into 2020.
What’s next for you?
We’re going to continue to expand to other urban areas where we feel our model can make a difference in how people live and rent, as well as explore funding options so we can expand even further. Since most of our nearly 400 members are in New York City or Jersey City, we’d like to expand our footprint in San Francisco, where we currently have four houses out of our 26 overall.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
I’m very passionate about education — that’s a cause I truly love to help push forward. I do work with Burning Man Ukraine to support young Ukrainian burners and artists by buying their art, helping with events, assisting with travel and the like. It’s important to me that everyone who wants to opportunity to learn, grow, explore the world and broaden their minds have the chance to do so, so I want to help wherever I can. I also help with a charity that assists people who need medical procedures in Ukraine.
Thanks to Sergii for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).
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