PodShare is a true startup – just like it’s country, it’s young, scrappy and hungry.

Globalization is inevitable as the earth increases population, inter-racial offspring ease border lines, media portrays more stories of non-traditional lifestyles, and the corporate noose around the 9-5 employee is loosened. Transportation is becoming so affordable that all of the parking/insurance/liability of owning a car don’t make it worth it for a non-married individual in urban cities. Technological advancements offer us opportunities to be a one-woman machine or one-man band, as much as online education does. The world is changing as fast as the climate. Housing should too. The white picket fence is stagnant. Millennials and all generations thereafter will spend more on travel and record it all on social media, so their friends share, comment and dream of the same opportunities. Traditional TV shows portrayed the family life, but the internet is all about the high life. The future is access, not ownership.

This was Pod 1.0

and I built it with this dad

Later, we changed up a few things:

Murphy Pod

We designed a Murphy pod to model how to work smart in small spaces.

The hydraulic arm allows for all work to stay on the table top as the desk is converted to a bed (linens fully made) to sleep in.

Just pull up a chair!

Some celebrities stopped by…

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER BACKGROUND – WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?

The first opportunity to become an entrepreneur was my family’s immigration to the US in 1990 – I was 5

The first time I dabbled in entrepreneurship (without knowing the term) was selling my parent’s belongings in the front yard of our Brooklyn apartment at age 7 – when my mom got home from work she was upset but instead of scolding, she took me to Costco and bought me a giant box of snickers that I started selling for $1 each at the cafeteria of PS 206. I got in trouble with the cafeteria staff after a couple of weeks. My mom picked me up from the principal’s office and yelled at the school for making me feel like I was doing something wrong. It felt amazing to have my mom on my side..

In middle school I took my dad’s shovels, gathered the young neighborhood kids and went door to door to sell our snow shoveling service. The kids were much younger than me, so they got tired quick and walked home. I was the last person finishing the job. The homeowner came out and try to pay me to finish but I refused and kept shoveling. I could not rally the neighbors again so I would go out and do it myself. I told myself that I made those driveways look so clear for people and I loved having a goal I could see and achieve with my own two hands.

In high school, I wanted to go look at California colleges, so I threw a party while my parents were visiting family in Pennsylvania. I charged $10 per head and stood at my gate all night making sure the funds were collected properly and no one got in free. I made $700. When the police came to break up the party, I let them right in (obviously) and fully cooperated. I never wanted the shin dig to go long anyway. My parents were not upset because I never let anyone into the house, they appreciated the fundraising effort, and I did not get into legal trouble.

In LA, when the going got tough I went to Smart & Final to buy a bunch of hot dogs and buns to sell outside of a club. My neighbor had a grill on wheels that I could use. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

 

TELL US HOW DID THE IDEA OF PODSHARE CAME ABOUT?

Like many, after the 2009 recession hit, I was faced with some difficult financial burdens. Having just graduated from college and working in the gig economy, my work was unsteady which made it difficult to provide proof of income.

I wanted a home that people like me could reset in, but also was a space for constant discovery and diversity. I thought about the future of housing and how mobile it will become with the rise of the freelance economy and cheaper transportation costs. If traveling was more affordable, then would mobile housing may go from trend to industry and operate like a gym membership.

I grew up watching MTV’s Real World and the way every season had a new cast and new location is the way I wanted to live and share housing.

I was able to convince one landlord to rent me a ground floor unit in his Hollywood Live/work building and I invested my life savings into building an MVP location with 10 pods. I flew my dad out from NJ and together we went to Home Depot and spent 3 months constructing the first PodShare.

Funny enough, when I was little my mother would refuse to let me sleep over at friends houses. It is ironic that I developed a slumber party business. However, with quiet hours at 10 pm, I guess I’m still listening to mom’s sage advice that nothing good ever happens after midnight.

WHO IS IT MEANT FOR AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

PodShare allows flexible housing options for people who:

  • cannot afford the high cost of short or long term housing
  • have arrived to a new city without a friend’s couch to crash on
  • are in town for school or work or pilot season and cannot afford corporate housing
  • are paycheck to paycheck and can only afford a little rent a time
  • jobless, bad credit, recently divorced, lonely
  • rather spend on experiences than a solitary hotel when traveling
  • came with an allotted sum that they need to “buy time” with while apartment and job hunting
  • don’t want to commit to an apartment or roommate off the internet

We identify members as one of 3 categories: Traveler, Transitioner, Temp

WHO MAKES AN IDEAL PODESTRIAN?

The ideal Podestrian is courteous, empathetic, open minded, clean, accepting, loves to share, and can whisper during quiet hours!

HOW LONG BEFORE COMING UP WITH THE IDEA DID YOU EXECUTE THE PLAN AND HAVE YOUR FIRST PODSHARE UP AND RUNNING?

I was in the shower when I day-dreamt up the idea of “housing in the cloud” and came up with the name podshare because we would literally share pods across the city/state/world….but also an iPod holds a bunch of data and I thought our experiences can be stored here…, and pods are sleeping capsules in Japan…and peas in a pod are cute.

I imagined aiding in globalization but offering to share pods for one rate anywhere in the world …never paying 2 rents but rather transferring the bed from one neighborhood to another at the touch of a button.

As I was driving, I saw the bicycle with chevron symbol that means “share the road” and thought it was the perfect logo for sharing… a home.

ARE ALL THE LOCATIONS THE SAME OR ARE THERE DIFFERENCES IN SET UP? DOES BEING THE SAME/ BEING DIFFERENT MATTER?

Same pod design and amenities, with 1 Murphy pod in each location

Floor plan is generally the same. Always the ground floor. High ceilings, windows.

What’s different is the square footage for each location but we always try to fulfill our promise to use existing building envelopes which do not disrupt neighbor’s views, the environment, change skylines, and barely impacts parking because less than 10% of our members have cars.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU LEARNED?

One of the biggest lessons I learned is that people think they want curtains or privacy walls on the pods. However, when I tried curtains in the first 6 months of my MVP, people started misbehaving and becoming inappropriate which made everyone in the room uncomfortable.

Since then I’ve had a very strict “no privacy” policy and it really allows the community to police itself. I have heard from many people that they do eventually crave privacy, especially for intimacy reasons or they want gender segregated rooms for religious reasons. We opened our first ever PodShare with private and gender segregated rooms. We’re going to be rolling in a rewards program where shared community members earn credits towards the privates.

Another lesson, or byproduct of launching is that neighbors have reached out about using our pod and floor design to house the homeless – especially the youth who live communally. So, we are teaming up with a local non-profit organization to build the Podshare that they can service with the 100+ youth that visit their drop-in center every day. Those folks go back on the streets after 5pm, but if we had our own bridge housing then they can communally live there.

WHAT IS PODSHARE’S PLAN FOR THE NEXT 5 YEARS?

After California, we will introduce the ability to co-live across the West Coast for 1 price, and then head East — it would be amazing to open across the NY tristate area where my parents took us to from Russia.

Team building: We will need great land use attorneys, lobbyists, real estate brokers, and operators to make this project a success. If we come together, we could create this country’s first national housing membership.

Beyond that, the future holds an international housing plan, and additional tiers for micro units and tiny homes for a slightly higher rate — always a fixed cost to our co-livie across the network.

People should have the ability to upgrade or downgrade based on their financial needs or relationships with each other — and unlimited ability to transfer across our globe.

HOW MANY ADJUNCT BUSINESSES GROWN FROM PODSHARE?

We have 2 marriages, 17 people have tattooed the logo, and we constantly see folks networking so I am sure there have been many unions formed – outside of roommates that come together and move to a nearby address. We are also exploring our own F&B brand that would employ and service PodShare members.

YOU HAVE A LOT OF ATTENTION FOR PODSHARE FROM EVERYONE FROM RANDI ZUCKERBERG TO CNN – HAS THAT LED TO INCREASED SALES AND INVESTMENT OR HAS IT PROVED MORE OF A BRANDING EXERCISE?

We’re fortunate that people are interested in our story and co-living has really become a hot topic in recent years, but we have not found that capital marriage. We have had interest from landlords and investors quadruple in the past year, but we need to stay true to our grassroots efforts. Until then (and if ever), we are sorting through expensive addresses that can be divided up for folks to afford and make an impact.

WHAT ADVISE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOU ENTREPRENEURS ABOUT WHAT WORKS BEST FOR A BUSINESS LIKE YOURS PROMOTIONALLY?

Do it yourself, take your time. Get it from your head, don’t rip it off. Put all your money into it before asking someone else to. Build it for the right reasons. Do good and do well.

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF ALWAYS RUNNING THIS COMPANY OR DO YOU HAVE A PLAN TO AT SOME POINT SELL AND MOVE ON?

This is has become my life-style brand. The next tiers of micro-housing and tiny homes will grow up as I do.

When I first started the majority of Podestrians were early 20’s – stayed an average of 3 nights and were 80% international 20% American.

Today, our country has become more accustomed to sharing and so PodShare is at a 50/50 International/Domestic rate with  an average age of 27 years and co-living for an average of 3-4 weeks….in fact out of the 220 pods that we have right now, 74 members have 4+ months and are continuing to extend.

WHAT ADVISE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN IDEA LIKE YOURS BUT DONT KNOW HOW TO EXECUTE?

Call me, let’s open a PodShare. I have the kit, why reinvent the wheel?

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WNAT TO ADD?

I hope that city planners, urbanists, NIMBYs, and neighbors read this and understand that the PodShare project is about taking existing buildings and repurposing them to build communal housing that literally breaks down walls for people.

Introvert or extrovert, it doesn’t matter. When you live with people vastly different from yourself, from 1 night to 1 year, you are sharing experiences throughout the house – “collisions” that impact your inner isms and phobias.

Living together in close quarters versus behind doors and gates makes us more educated voters, better parents, empathetic neighbors, smarter creators, and literally allows us to point a story to a specific example or person.

The world’s population is increasing but globe is not, so we have to learn to live better with each other.

75% of LA is made up single family homes. Can we break some up as small lot subdivisions for tiny homes?

40% of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency. Can we have basic needs be a fixed cost, with luxuries on top for those than can and want to afford them?

35% of millennials live with mom and dad. We need to rethink housing and embrace a travel-live anywhere opportunity for the experience generation to move out and impact the world.