Building the “Home” in Homebrew

November 5, 2013

A place where things are being built. That’s what we want Homebrew HQ to feel like, to be. The environment in which teams work is vital to morale, energy and productivity. AirBnB, Google, Square and Twitter are examples of companies that have invested heavily in their office spaces so that employees are comfortable and productive. Importantly, those spaces also reflect the culture of the companies and the products that they are trying to bring to the world.

We think of Homebrew as our startup, currently in the “establishing product/market fit” phase. We’re guided by building the type of firm that we would have wanted to have as investors when we were entrepreneurs and by always asking the question, “Is this the type of fund we would have wanted to take money from?” Accordingly, when we were thinking about office space, we wanted that home to reflect our goals, primarily to create unique value for our partner companies.

After looking at nearly 75 spaces, Homebrew’s, well, home, came online this July. We decided very early on that we wanted our space to be full of like-minded founders. As a result, we offer free desks to not just Homebrew partner companies, but to entrepreneur friends for up to six months. HQ currently houses two partner companies (10 people total) and five other teams with founders previously at Google, YouTube, Twitter and Zynga. That leaves one or two desks open for friends who happen to be visiting San Francisco from exotic places like Berlin or Palo Alto. We’ve already had one “friend of Homebrew” company graduate from the space into their own office. As thanks they made a capital improvement: a wall-mounted Homebrew bottle opener.

Unlike many VC firms, we don’t have offices or lots of staff around. Our space is communal and we sit alongside the entrepreneurs and founders that we host. We try to spend a bit of time each week with the non-partner companies to help them with their startups. We order lunch in for everyone on Mondays and we host Happy Hour on Fridays. We let everyone play DJ on the Sonos. Why? Because we want to create an entrepreneur-friendly startup environment and a place that’s fun for us to come to work everyday. Our days wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without the energy, humor and intelligence of the people we host at Homebrew. And the best thing to see is the meaningful interactions amongst the entrepreneurs. They help each other solve coding problems. They test and provide feedback on beta products. They trade jokes and pop culture references. And they raise a glass every once in a while. We’re grateful to have them as part of our family.

If you’re an investor, you by definition enjoy spending time with entrepreneurs. Think about creating and sharing vibrant spaces to support them. Personally, we’re still hoping one of the larger funds builds a coffee bar-like office with small tables, wifi and a barista! If you’re a startup, consider the benefits of sharing space with other entrepreneurs in your formative stages. If you’re a larger company, think about letting startups use any excess space you have. Physical space matters but proximity to like-minded people matters even more.

We couldn’t be happier with the community that’s been created within our physical space. It’s a special feeling when an entrepreneur walks in, stops, looks around and smiles.