PariSoma “Innovation Loft” Is Movin’ On Up; A Taste of Parisian Startup Community in San Francisco

2/14/11Follow @wroush

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fostering software startups, and the heart of Silicon Sentier is La Cantine, a coworking center in the 2nd arrondissement. “It’s a coworking space but primarily they host events every single day,” says Nachtigal. “It’s been wildly successful for them.”

To build a similar community in San Francisco, and to provide a base for its own portfolio companies as they expand to the U.S., faberNovel set up pariSoma. A month after Alteresco moved into Nachtigal’s apartment, “I gave him two words of advice: hire me,” Nachtigal says. The advice was accepted, and Nachtigal spent the next year and a half “getting pariSoma on the map,” primarily by hosting and co-sponsoring a dizzying series of events for the tech startup community.

The first was TEDxSoMa in January 2010, which attracted a relatively small audience of 65 people (that’s standing-room-only in the tiny Howard Street space) but drew another 110,000 viewers online. Another 100 events followed in 2010 alone, from informal “startup mixers” to ask-the-expert sessions to parties promoting specific companies like GetJar or events like Demo and Mobilize. The idea is to make pariSoma a community hub, but also to put a rotating array of resources at the fingertips of coworking residents.

PariSoma’s membership model is pretty simple: there’s a sliding scale of monthly fees depending on how much time an individual plans to spend in the space. “Virtual members” can have a mailbox at pariSoma for $50 per month. “Community mobilizers” can come in one day per week for a monthly fee of $100. “Coworking masters” get full-time access for $275 per month, which also entitles them to 2 hours of time in a private meeting room. And at the high end, “Coworkaholics” get a full-time private desk and 6 hours of meeting-room time for $500 per month. Everyone gets free Wi-Fi, coffee and tea, kitchen access, and printing/copying/scanning/faxing. For an additional fee, pariSoma offers on-site help with accounting, bookkeeping, legal, immigration, and human resources issues.

But those are just the mechanics of the space—you’ll find similar services on tap at San Francisco coworking facilities like Citizen Space and Nextspace. Nachtigal says that it’s all the activities at pariSoma, and the camaraderie they foster, that distinguishes pariSoma amidst the growing crop of coworking spaces. There’s a formal group of “pariSoma gurus” who drop in to give advice on subjects like marketing and dealing with venture and angel investors. There are Taco Tuesdays, weekly happy hours, and frequent birthday parties with cake and champagne, often organized by the coworkers themselves.

“One thing I hear a lot from people is they feel more of a sense of community than at other coworking spaces in the city,” says Nachtigal. “People know each other and are actively interested in what other people are doing. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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