Q&A with CTRL COLLECTIVE – NEW Co-Working Hacker Space in Los Angeles

I had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Brezhnev of Hacker.Fund, and the soon launching (in June) new co-working space CTRL Collective!

Q:  First, how is it best pronounced? 

JB:  CTRL Collective (pronounced Control Collective  – spelled CTRL Collective like the CTRL button on your keyboard)

Q:  What was the inspiration for CTRL Collective? 

JB: The brand was inspired by the startups that grew too big to fit inside Brezh’s apartment: Ctrl LA, a development shop run by Brezh’s roommate, Brandon Foo, and UserBlitz: a growth hacking consulting company, run by Brezh, Zoro, and Shahan. Brezh & Zoro and David went to elementary school together and the three reunited after college when Brezh randomly wished David “happy birthday” on his Facebook wall. Meanwhile, Brezh & Shahan were also founding members of Bruin Entrepreneurs, a support group for students interested in startups at UCLA.  At that time, David was working in Real Estate development and real estate finance, while  also running a company – LA Track Day, a community group for exotic car-enthusiasts. The 5 startup entrepreneurs looked for spaces to work from as a team on their separate projects but when they walked around to coworking spaces in Venice, they were told, “You guys look like you’re too young to start companies!” That was when Bren, Brezh, Zoro, and Shahan realized they had to create their own facility to provide a support group to the entrepreneurs that felt ostracized. The crew realized that most of their talented hacker friends were moving away to San Francisco and NYC in order to join tech companies/start their own. CTRL Collective was formed to create a entrepreneur playground where the LA tech startup ecosystem could truly flourish.

Q:  There already are a few great co-working spaces in LA, so what sets it apart from other co-work spaces?

JB:  We are not your dad’s coworking space – we are a creative campus for hackers, creatives, and makers. Think Equinox for entrepreneurs. We are a space for hackathon hackers to call home. Hackathon Hackers is a growing community of developers, designers, and makers around the country. (Type in “Hackathon Hackers” into Facebook and check the group out. )

Q:  What is your dream scenario with CTRL Collective? 

JB: We create a true home for the young technical talent that moves away from Los Angeles because of the startup communities of Silicon Valley & San Francisco. We want our friends to move back and build a home. Our dream is to walk through our doors and see the next Uber or SpaceX being founded in our hackspace.

ctrl collective la hacker cowork space

Q:  How did you get it started and what is your role now?

JB: I got started with this project when I realized that there were too many hackers, startups, and entrepreneurs in my Venice apartment. My apartment became a half-way house for hackers and so we realized that we needed more space for them to tinker! My role now is the Chief Community Cat. I make sure that everyone in the space is having fun! I create marketing, handle event-planning, and organize hackathons!

Q:  You also are involved with Hackathons for Teenagers, tell me about that…

JB: I run a nonprofit called Hacker Fund and our mission is to spread the hackathon hacker ethos to high school students around the world. We partner with high school districts and community leaders to organize the hackathons, bring collegiate hackathon hackers as mentors for the event, and then establish connections with organization who enhance student engagement after the hackathon. You can visit our site here: www.hacker.fund.

Q:  It launches in June, are you offering any intro specials?

JB: We are launching a special deal for Hackathon Hackers. We have an 80-20 Program in our space: we provide a free nights & weekends membership for hackers who spend 80% of their time tinkering and learning new skills through their own projects, and then spend the remaining 20% of their time teaching our community!

ctrl collective

Q:  And how can people keep up?

JB: People can keep up with CTRL Collective by joining our mailing list at www.ctrlcollective.com and then following us on Snapchat & Twitter: @CTRLCollective.


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