PODSHARE is a Hollywood institution, a home away from home for digital nomads, as well as for locals looking for a space to work.
Known for its “co-living social community,” Podshare offers a creative playground in Hollywood for freelancers and startup-kids alike, with daily & hourly rates for co-working. In addition to the desks and work / sleep pods, the space also has a creative suite for filming, recording, and gaming, and of course, working, for those in need of a desk, Wi-Fi, and lots of coffee.
This community spirit of Podshare is fostered by founder Elvina Beck, who opened the Cosmo street location in 2012.
By being hands-on in the process, she gets daily feedback, data if you will, on her users’ needs. And along the way she has been able to iterate, improve, and expand in an effort to spread the Podshare way of life in order to serve locals and visitors.
And it all started with some little site she started working with back in 2009, which at the time was called Air Bed & Breakfast, and hosted the company’s three founders, who arrived at her apartment with airbeds and a camera to snap her home.
That little company grew up to be AirBnB, and grew from three guys + two interns into a $20 billion company with nearly 1000 employees and 500,000 listings in over 200 countries.
Say Beck, who at the time was doing production for various film & TV projects, “I saw it as a way to make some extra income but then realized it was more than that, which goes with my whole lifestyle thematic.”
So here we are at the dawn of the sharing economy, and all these strangers were paying to stay in other people’s homes.
This led the enterprising Beck to build a miniature empire with a handful of units, but then realized it was not something that she could personally own and scale.
Also, she was noticing a difference in the psychology of guests, who paid different amounts based on their needs — the lower end were just looking for a cheap place to stay, the higher end could afford a hotel but wanted their own space (“Why pay double at the W?”). But it was the middle ground — those people that were looking for a good price AND a sense of community — that appealed to her senses the most.
Thus began the early days of Podshare. “If I could create a community vibe around the market that I grew to love, now we’re talking about something I could do for the rest of my life, I could build something I love.”
Beck wanted to build a space with budget pods to share, and from this logic came the name Podshare. “I literally jumped out of the shower and was like ‘PODSHARE!'”
With money set aside from her production work, Beck found a space in 2012, drafted schematics based on her aesthetic that would meet her guests’ needs, flew in her dad from the east coast, and (despite his generational doubts) went straight to Home Depot with Elvina to help build her dreams, DIY-style.
In keeping with the Sharing Economy way of life, Beck even tapped into the couch surfing community to help with the build out, the wiring, the sound system, and the wi-fi in exchange for a place to stay.
Beck started advertising on AirBnB, recouped her investment in three months, and has since gone on to host nearly 5,000 Podestrians.
In the early days, her hands-on approach developed a true community, in which she learned a lot — which features appeal most to users, which areas needed improvement, how to create a community feel amongst strangers, how to manage operations, how to manage staff.
Price is important but community is more important, so Beck does prior background checks via each users’ socials, mostly Facebook & LinkedIn, to vet each guest, and to help the guests connect better with each other, relying on the three S’s, are the guests “Safe, sane, and social.”
Every move has been a proper mix of gut instinct + real-world user data and online feedback, in order to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for everyone involved. Says Beck, “You hypothesize, you listen, you build.”
In addition to the Pods, the work areas, and displays that line the space, Beck has recently introduced a modular desk-to-bed space, as well as a podcasting booth for anyone that wants to record in a soundproof area.
Beck notes that 84% of the Podestrians are international, but she works closely with her multiple communities to find solutions that bring everyone together — the Hollywood community, the greater LA tech community, the coworking community, the travel community, and many more.
Beck has not taken a single penny from investors, yet notes that she gets approached quite often from VCs, although the terms have not been compelling enough for her to partner with a base that largely looks at short-term returns.
But Beck is definitely looking into expansion opportunities, which include building Podshare into other parts of LA as well as new markets — both on its own, and as part of current co-working and living spaces.