Fear Not, Boston Entrepreneurs: Betahouse Is Expanding, Founder Says Local Techies Need More Confidence

6/29/10Follow @gthuang

Jon Pierce is an unassuming young man who just might hold the keys to the kingdom. The Boston tech startup kingdom, that is.

OK, that’s the kind of bluster he probably hates to see, especially in the media. Pierce is about community first—and that’s why he’s particularly important. He is the founder of Betahouse, a co-working communal space for entrepreneurs, techies, and creative types in Central Square in Cambridge. The 1,800-square-foot space has been going strong since April 2007, making it (as far as we know) the oldest co-working space for entrepreneurs in the Boston area. There are about 25 members at any time, and they pay a monthly fee to work in the space for a few days a week or full-time. The idea is to provide a community and support structure for people to network, create relationships, share knowledge about their field, and sometimes collaborate on projects.

“You don’t get that out of your home, or out of a Starbucks,” Pierce says.

Some 75 people have come through Betahouse over its three-year lifetime, Pierce says. They include entrepreneurs who have since gotten venture funding, like virtual goods and social-app startup Viximo (which reminds me a bit of Seattle’s BigDoor Media), and a few former Y Combinator companies, as well as freelance developers and consultants.

Now Betahouse is looking to expand into a new space—which will be double its current size, and maybe more—in the next few months. As part of the planned expansion, the group also will look to host bigger events for the startup community, which it hasn’t been doing as much of lately because of its residential locale. (It’s hard not to disturb the neighbors.) “A big part of our culture is events,” Pierce says.

Pierce says Central Square will still be the preferred location, because of its relatively low cost and its proximity to MIT, Harvard, tech companies like Harmonix, Conduit Labs, oneforty, and dozens of others, and cafés and eateries like Andala (home to Open Coffee every Wednesday morning). He is currently scoping out office space and making sure there’s enough demand for the expansion. “The challenge is it’s a pretty soft economy still,” he says. “And there’s a growing amount of free space available.” There are now about … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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