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Welcome To The Future: You Can Work, Sleep And Live In A Pod
It might sound like something out of a science fiction film, but one entrepreneurial woman is starting a brand—or maybe it's a movement—where you can work, sleep, make friends and live in a pod.
Elvina Beck and her father first opened PodShare in Hollywood in January 2012. PodShare isn't really a hotel and it isn't really a hostel. Instead of putting each guest in a private room, PodShare guests—don't laugh, Beck calls them 'podestrians'—each receive a pod. The pods contains a bed, a TV, a lamp and other gadgetry, providing a comfy place to work, hang out and crash. These podestrians are instantly plunged into a community of fellow explorers. Many podestrians are solo travelers, and staying at PodShare gives them an instant network of people to explore the city with at an affordable price point—usually $50 to $70 per night. Beck calls it "co-living."
These pods take their cues from minimalist hotels in other parts of the world, but it's not exactly the same. There are several in Japan—sometimes known as capsule hotels—but when I personally visited Tokyo and tried to find one, I was disappointed to find out that women are usually not allowed to book them. Many photos of these hotels show insular pods, stacks atop each other—sort of like you're plugged in the Matrix or being frozen on a really long space journey.
Beck's community, however, isn't about minimalist isolation. She says her PodShare community has spurred a lot of impromptu friendships and fond memories, with some podestrians returning several times. To date, 14 guests have even gotten PodShare tattoos. In the future, Beck envisions a whole network of PodShares in numerous cities, connected by the brand and the spirit of community.
But the dream of living with other freelancers and world-travelers has been deferred for now. The building where PodShare was set up was sold in 2014 and the new landlord wasn't so keen on 'co-living.' The pods were taken down in January 2015, but ever entrepreneurial, Beck decided take it in a new direction: a co-working space. So the original PodShare became PodShare Labs.
"We needed a way to differentiate the co-living from co-working, so labs seemed appropriate as it's a creative space for startup kids and podestrians," Beck said.
Beck's capsule hotel idea isn't dead in the water, though. She also successfully raised 111 percent of her goal to open the next PodShare. She said she's close to obtaining permission from the city for a location in Silver Lake, and she's got her eye on a spot downtown as well.
"I can't reveal exact locations until the permissions/leases are finalized," she said, but if all goes well, she plans to have two new co-living spaces up and running by summer's end.
For the new co-living spaces, Beck envisions a new type of pod which contains a murphy bed that transforms into a desk—perfect, she says, for a "nomadic freelancer." They built a test Pod 2.0, which shows how the desk shifts into a bed:
Beck is also working on a booking app that pulls data from Facebook and LinkedIn to show who has signed up to be at PodShare on a particular day. Beck likes this aspect, because it allows people to seek out others to collaborate with or get to know. For the paranoid, PodShare will be able to screen applicants and will also keep track of any issues with podestrians across their network. Users will also be able to choose their 'pods' like you choose a seat on an airplane or in a theatre. The company already did some profiling of their early podestrians, and you can view some of them here. Beck talks about the upcoming app in the video below.
In the interim, you can sign up to hang out or work at PodShare Labs. It's relatively cheap compared to other coworking spaces at $5/hour, $15/day or $300/month, and they periodically run deals. When we visited Beck and her crew several weeks ago, they were still converting the space, but it was clear that things were already taking shape. Workers were seated at long tables lined with potted plants or on couches, typing away. Like most co-working spaces, PodShare offers wifi, coffee (from a percolator!) and snacks, but the space has an industrial, DIY feel. That isn't to say it's shoddy, but rather that this isn't a sterile office environment like other co-working spaces we've visited around town.
There's also lot of technology in the room, making the space something of a one-stop shop for the solo creative. Beck showed off a recording studio where one could easily record a podcast or interview. Other amenities include Mac computers with Final Cut and Creative Suite, dual display monitors and a green screen cyclorama. On top of the studio was a plush napping station, accessible by a ladder, for breaks. Workers are also free to take a break using an Xbox 360, if that's what gets the creative energy flowing.
PodShare Labs is located at 1617 Cosmo St. in Hollywood, (213) 973-7741.