Monday September 9, 2013 1 comments
By Steve Porter
FORT COLLINS - Innovators, researchers, investors and other travelers involved in the innovation ecosystem will have a place to call home on the road when Launch Haus opens in early 2014.
Chris J Snook, most recently a mentor with the Founders Institute network, said he and his wife, Brianne, began talking about the idea of opening a bed-and-breakfast while they were still living in southern California.
That was last spring when Chris and Brianne -- who already had an itch to move to Colorado -- traveled to Fort Collins to visit friends. Snook said he was quickly struck by what Colorado - and particularly Fort Collins - had to offer those involved in startup innovation.
"I started seeing stuff that got me excited," Snook said. "I thought: This is the wave. Fort Collins is on the bubble of the next big market."
High praise from someone who's spent time in and closely studied Silicon Valley further north in California. Snook said he knew of a similar concept in Silicon Valley, where travelers could stay together and share ideas and questions instead of being holed up in a sterile motel room.
One example is Blackbox Connect, a modest house in Silicon Valley dubbed the "Blackbox Mansion," where groups of startup entrepreneurs stay together for two-week acceleration camps.
"We were the first ones to see there was a gap out here in Fort Collins," he said. "I thought what can we bring here that's not redundant. And that's when I thought about (Brianne's) B&B idea."
Initially, Snook said, Launch Haus will be simply a haven for traveling entrepreneurs and others needing a place to stay with a homey touch and the company of others in the same boat. That's where Brianne will take the lead, he said.
"The thing that really has me excited is the soul and glue of this is Brianne and her ability to be a step ahead of our guests in their needs and wants," he said. "She gets it -- that's her gift."
Snook said a property in Old Town near CSU has been identified and is in final site inspection and feasibility review. He said the house will also offer co-working space and access to Snook's mentoring skills and network of friends accumulated over 13 years as an entrepreneur.
Later, Launch Haus - with some help from venture capitalists and others -- could offer special programs similar to Silicon Valley, such as legal and HR workshops for startup entrepreneurs.
"The point is to make it relevant to the local ecosystem and that's scalable," he said.
Help has already made itself available. The Rocky Mountain Innosphere startup incubator has expressed its support of the concept.
"This innovative approach to a bed-and-breakfast would be a welcome addition to the innovation ecosystem in the region," said Doug Johnson, the Innosphere's VP of access to capital, in a letter of support.
"Given the increase in clients, we see an increase in investors, we see an increase in executives, in software engineers, in creative support - (a) pipeline for (Launch Haus) who want a creative and innovative place to stay and connect into the community.
"We are ready to promote and refer clients to (Launch Haus) and look forward to partnering with you in the ecosystem."
Snook said the two-story house needs some extensive renovation before it can become a bed-and-breakfast and he sees an expected opening around the first of January.
In the meantime, Snook said it may become available as a co-working space sometime after the expected Sept. 30 closing.
Snook said he envisions Launch Haus will have several sleeping spaces, ranging from $49 for a shared room to $230 per night for an accredited VC suite.
Snook said he believes he and Brianne will be the perfect team to launch Launch Haus. "The blending of our skill sets is going to serve this market well and maybe become a model for other similar places."
Snook said he's excited to be out of southern California and in Northern Colorado. "I can make an impact here faster than I did in 15 years there," he said.
"They'll (visitors) stay with us, fall in love with (the area), and start a company here," he predicts. "We can connect them in days with what used to take weeks.
"We're going to attract the right kinds of innovators and within days plug them in with the players. I think Fort Collins is at a point where that can occur now."
For more information, contact Snook at [email protected] or call 858-883-7529.