Recess Labs

What is Recess Labs?

You can think of us like a pre-idea incubator or a group EIR program.

We gather a bunch of talented, multidisciplinary people together for an extended period to explore ideas and play around at the cutting edge of tech, design, and product.

One thing we're not is a startup incubator -- we don't take equity, and you don't have to work on something that will become a venture-backable business.

If you're an awesome engineer, designer, entrepreneur, or product person and you're interested in exploring your own projects full-time, you should join us.

Here are a few of our guiding philosophies:

  • Build things you personally want.
  • Approach your projects with a mindset of play and exploration.
  • Be prolific -- put out a "first draft" as soon as possible.
Basically, treat everything like a side project.

Why join Recess Labs?

We find that when people take time to work on their own projects, they tend to lack community and structure.

In comparison, Recess Fellows get:

The program runs 10am-6pm, Monday through Thursday. During those hours, you're encouraged to be at our HQ working on your projects or collaborating with others. We've found that having a set schedule is quite helpful when working full-time on your own.

We have daily morning check-ins and a weekly "show and tell" night where you can get feedback and share your progress. We also have a demo day at the end of each month, giving you something to work towards.

You aren't required to collaborate with others in the group, but we highly encourage working together and bouncing ideas around with each other. Fellows come from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, so it's likely you'll find someone in the group with a complementary skillset or a new perspective on what you're doing.

Also, working together is the best way to see if you might want to work with someone long-term.

We care strongly about our community values of play, curiosity, support, and experimentation, and we believe the right environment can help us all get deeply in touch with the intrinsic joy of building things.

What are the program details?

The program runs Monday - Thursday, 10am - 6pm.

We'll have daily check-ins each morning at 10am, as well as a pitch session on Monday morning to share ideas you're working on, and a "show and tell" night every Thursday.

We are just finishing up our beta batch, and will be accepting applications on a rolling basis through the end of August. We recommend people stay for the duration of the program, but welcome fellows for a minimum of one month.

The initial batches will be held at Balanced NYC. There is no fee for the program, but you will have to get a membership at the space (we're pretty much taking it over).

Who are we looking for?

We're looking for awesome people from the tech world who:

  • Are on the cutting edge of their field.
  • Want to work full-time on personal projects that scratch their own itch.
  • Have a track record of making things people want.
What do we mean by a track record of making things people want?

It could mean a startup, an open source project, a blog, a Meetup, an art project, or something you worked on w/ a team at your full-time job. Basically, anything you created from scratch that found real-world users.

About Us

Recess Labs is a program we created to scratch our own itch. Several of us were having dinner one day, and we realized we were all going though career transitions / sabbaticals, and we were all doing it siloed off on our own.

We thought we'd be both happier and more productive if we had community around us, but were looking for more freedom than the traditional incubator or EIR program would provide.

Thus, Recess was born. We've had people work on eveything from SAAS products to novels to art for Burning Man. We aim to create a space where people can follow their own interests and create for the sake of creating.

We're inspired by the ideas of Paul Graham, Richard Feynman, Fred Wilson, Recurse Center, Entrepreneurs First, and the MIT Media Lab.

Here are a few of the founding fellows:

Dan Shipper
Dan founded a company called Firefly, which was acquired by Pegasystems in 2014. He's currently traveling and exploring new creative projects.

Steph Weiner
Steph spent the last few years working for Bain Ventures. She took some time off earlier this year to travel, and is now working full-time on her own ideas.

Blake Embrey
Blake is a Javascript engineer from Australia. He writes a lot of open source software, which you can find on Github.

Sib Mahapatra
Sib worked on the New Ventures team at Redfin, a Greylock-backed startup. A few months ago, he decided to take a year-long break to pursue projects of his own.

Ashoat Tevosyan
Ashoat is a software engineer that recently left Facebook to spend some time working on personal projects. In his spare time, he plays with LEDs and handles the boring bookkeeping stuff for HelioHost, a non-profit free web hosting service.

Casey Rosengren
Casey is the founder of Hacker Paradise and Balanced. He's currently taking some time to explore new creative ideas.


How do I apply?
You can apply here.

Where is Recess Labs?
Batch 0 will be held at Balanced, a coworking space in lower Manhattan. We may eventually spread to other locations around the world.

Do I need to be in NYC to participate?
For this batch, yes. Fellows are responsible for their own housing, and we'll do our best to help the group coordinate. If you're interested in bringing Recess to your city, please let us know.

When is Recess Labs?
We are currently accepting applications for the program up through the end of August. We recommend you join through the end of the summer, but welcome fellows for a minimum of one month if that's all that is logistically feasible.

I have a full-time job. Can I still join?
We may eventually launch a nights & weekends program, but for now, we're looking for people who can be in the space Monday - Thursday. If you'd be interested in a nights & weekends program, please let us know.

How does Recess Labs make money?
We're still figuring that out. We'd like to eventually make it sustainable, but for right now, we're just looking to curate a community of amazing people.

How long can I participate in the program?
We ask people to join Recess for a minimum of 1 month, and recommend joining for a full 3 months if possible. We will sometimes make exceptions if you are logistically unable to participate for a full month.

How big will the group be?
We're planning to keep the first batch small, aiming for 10-15 people.

How can I contact you?
Shoot us an e-mail and we're happy to answer any other questions you might have.

How can I stay in the loop?
You can sign up for our semi-regular newsletter right here:

Subscribe to our mailing list

Apply here, and we'll be in touch!

* Applications for Batch 0 accepted on a rolling basis.