Starting a Startup on San Francisco's Billionaire's Row

Young rents snag mansion in exclusive San Francisco neighborhood.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A group of young entrepreneurs have figured out a way to live large without breaking the back. It's not only helping their bottom line, but it's also fueling their entrepreneurial spirit. (Published Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012)

    Despite it's name, San Francisco's "Billionaires Row" isn't exclusive to just billionaires, or even millionaires.

    Sure, people like Larry Ellison, the Getty's, and the Haas family call this ultra-exclusive San Francisco neighborhood home. But so do a bunch of 30-somethings who are renting a house on the row in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, where residents are loathe to give out an exact street name.

    "The mansion as we call it," Patrick Buckley said.

    While Buckley and his roommates won’t divulge their monthly rent, they say living in a mansion is actually cheaper than if they all separately rented out a one-bedroom apartment.

    "You share grocery expenses, you share utility expenses, the rooms, you’re definitely saving money over what your standard rate of rents would be, if you lived by yourself in San Francisco,” Buckley said.

    Roommate Ryan Turri is the mastermind who found the place a little more than three years ago. “I was looking on Craigslist one day because that’s what I seem to do because I was a little bit frustrated with my previous rental situation, the rent was going up, and I found this place,” Turri said.

    Finding the place was one thing, but convincing the owner this wouldn't turn into a glorified frat house was another. "They really wanted to make sure we were solid, independent individuals and we would fit in in the neighborhood,” Turri said,

    While the multi-million dollar view is spectacular, the group lives here for more than just the location.They see this place as an incubator to help grow and develop their entrepreneurial spirit."Having a community of people that you’re living with, who are kind of entrepreneurial minded is really kind of a huge benefit to trying to start a business,” Buckley said.

    Buckley started his iPad cover business, DODOcase, just five months after moving in here. "I worked with some of the local craftsmen in San Francisco, but we’d bring them back here and put them together and mail them right from the house,” Buckley recalled. "It was very much like a community effort to try and get something started, and you see that across the board here at the house." 

    The business has grown exponentially since the early days, and now he’s got a huge warehouse in the Dogpatch neighborhood, churning out up to a thousand cases a day.

    Buckley’s success helped inspire Turri, who did a 180 degree career change, from finance to beef jerky maker. Yes, beef jerky maker, but that's not the only reason his leap of faith is so remarkable. "I actually don’t typically eat meat, I’m actually mostly vegan," Turri said. "It’s difficult to get protein, and you don’t want to eat a lot of soy or tofu, so I was looking for a product that I would be comfortable eating and I know would be good for me." Turri eventually left his job in finance to focus full time on developing his beef jerky business, and the start-up atmosphere in the house helps him on the tough days. “Seeing some of my housemates succeed, seeing them take risks is really helpful, Turri said. "I think on a daily basis its been helpful, and I think I knew I would have a support system that I lived with.”

    Living on Billionaires' Row may put these guys in the same neighborhood as potential investors, but there's no block party to pitch their companies. “The neighbors are interesting people," Buckley said. "I wouldn’t say we’re that tight."

    But they do help motivate them to set their sights on achieving the billionaire's dream. “If we work really hard, maybe one day we won’t be renters here,” Buckley said.