Hacker Homes aims to find Fiber-powered pads for entrepreneurs
Kansas City Hacker Homes launched last week to connect entrepreneurs to homes with Google Fiber.
Immediately following Google's announcement last month of its plan for rolling out Google Fiber in the Kansas City area, a steady stream of people began expressing a desire to relocate to the City of Fountains to gain access to the ultra high-speed internet service.
Now, one website is out to make that relocation process easier. Kansas City Hacker Homes launched last week, with a mission "to further the business community in Kansas City by offering three months of rent-free, Google Fiber-connected startup space to entrepreneurs."
In other words, the site is a match-making service for entrepreneurs interested in using Google Fiber to build startups and people in Fiber-connected homes. The hacker gets a place to live and use one-gigabit internet connection for three months, and the host gets to help an entrepreneur.
Ben Barreth, a Kansas City-based web developer, is the brains behind Hacker Homes. The idea came to Barreth after he attended an IdeaMensch event earlier this month in Kansas City. At the event, he was struck by the number of familiar faces in the room.
"I came to this conclusion: Kansas City needs fresh blood," Barreth (left) said in an email interview. "To grow, to move its entrepreneurship vision forward, to take full advantage of Google Fiber."
That, coupled with the Idea Mensch crew's glowing reviews of the Midwestern hospitality they encountered in Kansas City, convinced Barreth to launch his site.
As of Friday afternoon (when the site had been live for one day), Barreth said 22 hackers and one home had registered. A company also committed to letting hackers work out of its office during business hours.
Barreth said he expects finding hosts will be a challenge: "They are basically putting a lot on the line for the non-tangible return of making KC 'greater'."
That said, Barreth pointed out that each hacker-host arrangement is unique — Hacker Homes merely helps people connect and lets them iron out the details from there. "There's no absolute requirement that it has to be a completely 'free' rent agreement," he said. "Maybe the hacker yields some equity, maybe they barter some web development time, maybe they do extra dishes and help paint rooms in the home."
Another challenge is ensuring Hackers come to Kansas City to build businesses, not just enjoy a fast internet connection while they look for their next gig. Barreth said on Friday he had rejected two applicants because they wanted a free stay while they looked for a job.
"This program is really about increasing business and creating jobs in KC," he said, "not absorbing them."
But Barreth has high hopes that the right combination of hackers and homes can result in the creation of new businesses and jobs in Kansas City. Barreth's goal is to find 10 households willing to host hackers for three months at a time over the course of one year.
"That's 40 new businesses seeded in KC in a single year," he said.