In post-pandemic Silicon Valley, the old way of doing things seems outdated. At the same time, everyone is longing for personal connection. Given the new parameters for doing business, many traditional institutions are no longer able to meet the needs of today’s entrepreneurs. To fill this void, Launch House has evolved into a community that offers authentic connections, applicable educational courses, and opportunities for advancement that feel organic in this new world.
Hacker House 2.0
Prior to the pandemic, hacker houses were well entrenched in Silicon Valley culture. So, in January 2021, as Launch House brought groups of 20 to 25 founders together under one roof each month, the idea wasn’t exactly a game changer. Indeed, as cofounder Michael Houck explains, “They’d come in, they’d live together, they’d work on their projects, they’d learn from each other,” as was the case in other similar institutions. Yet Houck and fellow founders Brett Goldstein and Jacob Peters noticed something even more meaningful happening during these residencies.
Houck says, “They’d bond, they’d form connections. And we were building this community.” Soon, the founders realized that the community was perhaps the most important element of Launch House’s offerings. So they leaned into the idea of looking at the whole person when seeking new community members.
In the same way other startup accelerators operate, founders must engage in an application process to join Launch House. As Houck explains, the initial application “asks you questions similar to Y Combinator: What problem were you solving, what does your solution look like, what’s your go-to-market strategy?”
Promising applicants then proceed to the interview round, where Houck says Launch House does things differently. “Basically,” says Houck, “you want to understand how does this person present themselves, what values do they bring to the table, what are they going to add to the community? I guess, in terms of interpersonal qualities, we look for people who are determined and driven and passionate about what they do, what problem they’re solving in society.”
Wave of the Future
Today, Goldstein says, successful applicants are “admitted to an in-person or online residency program.” By evolving beyond physical residencies, Launch House redefined the boundaries of community. And, so far, Goldstein says, online offerings are “decently similar.” In fact, the only real difference is that “events are kind of spread out during the day … focused on achievement and helping people get to the next stage, but also [on helping them] bond and connect. So now, in this new model where we are basically membership-focused versus program-focused, the experience is, you join and you instantly get access to our community platform, called Home.”
Within that larger Launch House Home, the founders are also fostering micro-communities, which they call squads. As Goldstein explains, “It’s a five- to seven-person group of peers that are curated, even within the Launch House community, [to connect people who are] at your same level, same type of ambition.” Once members join a squad, he says, “That group will meet monthly with a facilitator to talk through specific challenges you’re dealing with, broad challenges that a startup founder may deal with, both on the personal and the professional end.” Goldstein believes that the Launch House difference lies in fostering both sides of the entrepreneur’s life; in fact, he says that squads “are basically shown throughout history to be one of the most important reasons that people succeed in anything. So that’s that.”
The New Path to Success
Of course, some traditional elements of success are still highly emphasized within the Launch House community. That’s because, as Goldstein says, “Fundraising is a big topic.” And it’s one the community tackles in traditional ways, with fundraising workshops and other offerings that help entrepreneurs tackle pressing challenges. But here, again, the community takes a very different approach than ones used by other accelerators.
As Goldstein notes, “If you were to join an accelerator, you’d get all that in a two-month, three-month period. If you join Launch House, you’d get it indefinitely, every single month.” Combine that with access to Launch House events that are “attended by investors at a lot of the top venture funds,” and the path to startup success is clearly laid out — even as it’s reinvented. For, as Goldstein explains, “Networking is not a word that we use personally. Networking and the business world more broadly as we know it today, it’s very transactional. And the broad mission and purpose of Launch House is to make business and the technology industry less transactional, more authentic and person-driven.”
He acknowledges that people attend community events “trying to meet investors,” but “the ironic thing is that the people who have literally raised money from great investors while at our events and made great connections are not the ones who come in with the intention of doing that.” In short, they’re just seeking to connect in the new reality of Silicon Valley. And, in so doing, they’re seeing the kind of unparalleled success that the Launch House founders envision for them.
Learn more about Launch House here: https://labusinessjournal.com/technology/launch-house-announces-a-venture-arm/