Draper Startup House for entrepreneurs gets ready for spring 2020 opening on 6th Street

Hannah Williford

The Draper Startup House, a hostel which caters to new entrepreneurs and students, will open this March in Austin, marking its first location in the United States.

The Draper Startup House will be located on 6th Street and will include a working space, areas for conferences, a podcast space and a hostel-style living area for 70 people to stay, co-founder Katie Russel said. In addition to being a place to stay, the location will host lectures from different businesses the public can attend for a fee.

Draper Startup House currently has hostels in Indonesia, India, Estonia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines and Portugal. Co-founder Daniel Wiegand said they chose Austin for their ninth location because they wanted to expand the access to entrepreneurship opportunities outside of tech communities like Silicon Valley, a location that is not feasible for smaller startups.

“When we were evaluating cities in the U.S. to start, Austin was at the top of our list for a number of reasons,” Wiegand said. “There’s a growing tech scene here as well as a growing startup scene that we saw as very attractive. … The amount of colleges nearby was also very attractive to us because we are targeting … young entrepreneurs who are kind of just getting their feet wet, and we saw that as a great opportunity for us to kind of get into this market.”

Wiegand said the house will allow students to see what it is like to be an entrepreneur and if it is the right path for them while also learning from people currently working in the industry. Russel said the classes will also provide more hands-on experience and get people who have not yet started a business out of their comfort zone.

“It’s great to have college students coming through because it does build their network as well as help our entrepreneurs staying in our building to meet new people and understand different perspectives and what college students are going through,” Russel said.

Computer science sophomore Shalin Gadhavi, co-founder of business networking startup Colanse, said although there are other areas to interact with entrepreneurs, the hostel aspect is new to him.

“There are definitely places where you can meet other co-founders,” Gadhavi said. “But most of them don’t have a 24-hour living experience, which is interesting to see. It might bring a new kind of client base which would be more creative, especially because most startup (founders) are sleep-deprived people.”

Wiegand said hostels have a negative connotation in the U.S., but he wants to create a place people can visit consistently and know what kind of quality they are going to get. 

“That’s another large reason why we chose Austin,” Weigand said. “I think people in Austin are more open-minded. They’re willing to try new, quirky and weird things, so for us it’s a great test point to change the mindset … in the U.S. before we expand to bigger cities.”