Why do accelerators (except Y Combinator) have coworking spaces?

I used to say there are 3,000 YC clones in the world. I have since learned that there’s 8,000 in China alone. So let’s say the whole number in the world is 16,000.

Every time someone decides they’re going to build the next Y Combinator, the idea is always the following: “It’s going to be just like Y Combinator, except we’re going to provide free coworking space.” I always want to say to people, “Did you ever think that maybe we thought about that, and it’s a feature, not a bug, that we don’t have it?”

I think the single thing that has differentiated YC more than any other decision we’ve made is that we do not have a coworking space. We bring the companies together once a week, but that’s it. It’s enough for a community, but it is enough to build your own identity.

Coworking spaces have two big classes of problems. Number one, they are a band-pass filter. Good ideas — actually, no, great ideas are fragile. Great ideas are easy to kill. An idea in its larval stage — all the best ideas when I first heard them sound bad. And all of us, myself included, are much more affected by what other people think of us and our ideas then we like to admit.

If you are just four people in your own door, and you have an idea that sounds bad but is great, you can keep that self-delusion going. If you’re in a coworking space, people laugh at you, and no one wants to be the kid picked last at recess. So you change your idea to something that sounds plausible but is never going to matter. It’s true that coworking spaces do kill off the very worst ideas, but a band-pass filter for startups is a terrible thing because they kill off the best ideas, too.

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Ideas & Ethics

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