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Chris Coletti presents BauBau at Husky Startup Challenge.

CAMD student Chris Coletti ’18, who is majoring in Architecture, recently won second place and $1,250 in seed funding through the Northeastern Husky Startup Challenge for an architecture-inspired web-platform called BauBau (a reference to the Bauhaus movement). Congratulations, Chris! The Husky Startup Challenge begins as a series of five “boot camps,” where students are exposed to business speakers, coaches and lessons for their startups. The challenge then culminates in “Demo Day” where students finally present their ventures to a panel of judges and the local community in a two-minute pitch. From there, the judges award startups, like Chris’ BauBau, with cash prizes based on the viability of the venture and the progress of the student or team through the semester.

We caught up with Chris to learn more about BauBau, and how this idea came to life. Read all about it, below!

Tell us about your startup idea, BauBau.

My startup, BauBau, is basically a web-platform for collaborative building, specifically housing. At its most simple, it lets a group of people split the costs of building a shared home and share in the design process. You launch your own housing cooperative, or find one that already exists, and use the tools and services we provide to make the financing and design processes easier.

What are the advantages of a platform like BauBau?

This has a few advantages; basically, it provides a transitional stage between renting and getting the first mortgage for a house. Most older millennials are at a point where they don’t want to keep pouring thousands of dollars a month into rent and not getting any ownership out of it, but aren’t necessarily ready to go buy their first house in the suburbs either. Our platform makes it possible to have a sort of in-between, where you can still live in the city, have enough space and the types of amenities that would enable someone to raise a family, and have ownership in the form of a share that you can sell later to make a profit and jump-start your first mortgage at an older age. Another great aspect of this process, is that it enables people to have a community and neighborhood, even in a city. Many people in the city are alienated from one another and one of the beautiful aspects of this sort of collaborative approach is the sense of community between members.

What was your inspiration behind it? What made you want to really pursue it and see it come to life?

As far as the inspiration goes, I’ve always been interested in more collectivist politics and design that tends towards accessibility. The real impetus for it came when I was studying abroad in Berlin and was able to actually see these housing groups in action. Even though it’s a really radical idea in America, it’s actually super common in Europe, especially in places like Germany and Scandinavia. It’s in this instance that I really benefit from having both my architecture major, but also my entrepreneurship minor. I saw an opportunity to really streamline this process and make it more accessible and easier than ever, two qualities I know will be essential if it’s ever going to be accepted in America.

How has your architecture major and entrepreneurship minor impacted your startup inspirations?

The idea of digitizing this process came initially as purely a design exercise, where I was more interested in what collective housing approaches mean for architecture as a discipline. With my entrepreneurship minor though, I started to see it as a business opportunity as much as an artistic one. That’s why Husky Startup Challenge and IDEA (Northeastern’s entrepreneurship incubator) were super helpful, as they enabled me to take it from something that was rooted really in the world of architecture and design and bring it over to the extremely different world of business.

We look forward to seeing Chris’ platform continue to take shape. Congratulations, again, to Chris and the other students who were recognized at the Husky Startup Challenge!