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Village People

University-owned House Brings Together Budding Entrepreneurs

By Charlie Wright


John T. Consoli

John T. Consoli

After David Engle ’15 graduated from the University of Maryland, he bounced between friends’ apartments while running his technology startup. For four months, he slept on floors, skipped meals and showered in the Eppley Recreational Center.

He wanted not only a more permanent place to live, but also a community of other budding entrepreneurs to live with.

Engle has that now in Startup Village, a university-owned house on Metzerott Road renovated and rented at an affordable cost by six Terps all working to get their startups off the ground.

“Startup Village allows companies that are really bootstrapping to stay in the area at low-cost rent and not worry about … where they can live or can store their materials,” Engle says.

The “village,” which includes a privately owned house next door, is one of the components of Greater College Park, a partnership between the university, city and private businesses to revitalize the community. It includes nearly 30 projects, including campus buildings, retail and housing, and research and space to nurture startups.


Engle, who also co-owns a food truck (renovated in the driveway), and Eric Golman ’15, CEO of coffee-tea blender Javazen, founded the village, then through Startup Shell recruited fellow tenants Michael Malcolm ’18 and Ryan Pillai ’17 of WeCook, a personal chef contracting company, Brett Potter ’16 of the 3D printer producer Readybox and Bethany Monaghan ’16 of healthy food company Bethany’s Organics.

The ingenuity of the participants was on full display before the house even opened at the beginning of the year. University officials estimated the house needed two months of work, but in just two weeks the Terps replaced broken windows repaired the hole in the roof, renovated the bathrooms and installed a washer and dryer. In front of the house, they posted a small sign in red paint to beckon to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Call 4 Membership.”

Everything in the house is shared, from food to appliances to chores. Each room has a mattress and a desk, with closets packed with dress shirts and business pants. The living room has a much-used couch where friends occasionally crash, as do the tenants when their bedrooms overflow with their merchandise. (Golman recently backed up a tractor-trailer to his window to unload pallets of Javazen products, and Engle once threw his mattress out the window to create room for 450 pieces of apparel for David Mitchell Clothing.)

Rent ranges from $325 to $600 a month, plus utilities. That’s a bargain in College Park—which might explain the waitlist of 40 would-be tenants—but the real value lies in working closely with other 20-somethings with big dreams.

“You’re paying for housing, but you’re also paying for this amazing network, this amazing community,” Engle said. “It’s building your company as quickly as possible. Every room, sure it’s your bedroom but it’s also your office.”

Applicants must go through an interview process and are selected by current members based on need, with priority going to current students, then alumni and finally everyone else. Because of the popularity, Engle is looking to spread to more houses.

“Right now we’re working with a few people who are interested in being investors to help us expand the concept,” he says. “As many people that want to be involved in the Village, that’s how many houses we’ll get.”

All businesses that come out of the Village are expected to remain in the College Park area. After graduating, Golman was able to keep Javazen in the city and focus on growing the company.

“Startup Village is a great example of one of the many innovative ways that College Park is transforming and creating the next big startup hub,” Golman says.


Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.