The share-economy is our generation’s industrial revolution. I wouldn’t want to be alive during any other time. 50 years ago, we didn’t have the Internet. 50 years from now, we will have developed everything on it.
In my twenties, I sat in coffee shops alongside founders and attended conferences of creators who look like me – suits, expensive cars, and big houses not required. Everything is being redefined by my generation, for people like me and by people like me.
The Internet hosts “the best of” [what seems to be] all markets. At this point, it’s not a conversation of “who’s doing it first”, but rather “who’s doing it best” with the opportunity to “disrupt” or reinvent any arena.
Crowdfunding, Google Analytics, Klout scores, reviews, likes, followers… numbers and metrics validate the strength of a market and the legitimacy of a brand. Business has always been about earning and maintaining an audience, but we’re shifting towards cultivating and managing communities. We’re sharing resources, stories, influences, and funds to ensure the “best” things are accessible and better things are being created.
My startup just raised over $25,000 from Indiegogo contributors. We had over 14,000+ YouTube views. Tech Crunch called it “the funniest crowdfunding video ever.” I received invitations to speak on podcasts/panels, and we saw headlines like “Will PodShare be the next big hostel/hotel brand?”. Literally overnight, we earned $7,000 and gained 10,000 views because a blog considered one of the best told its readers that we were worth supporting.
Before the campaign, though, we put our time in. Our community already believed PodShare was worth expanding. LA Weekly voted us the “Best place to crash in LA”, Trip Advisor reviewers ranked us #1 in LA for “specialty lodging”, and we earned 5 of 5 stars on Yelp. Oh, and 14 guests have gotten a tattoo of our logo!
I launched PodShare to disrupt the hotel industry, after discovering my passion for hosting complete strangers through Airbnb & Couchsurfing. Airbnb is currently the best alternative to hotels, offering cheaper accommodations in real neighborhoods. I love Airbnb, but it’s still a private apartment or private bedroom. I wanted shared experiences to taste new foods, to talk new languages, to listen to new stories, and to engage in social travel in a space that encouraged human interaction.
Like every startup kid, I noticed a problem (solo travelers overpay for a solitary hotel experience), tested the market (what are the differences between a $30 airbed versus a $50 private room versus a $150 private apartment rental) and launched a product (custom-built pods for social travel).
For three years, PodShare hosted over 4,000 Podestrians as a co-living space – we created our own language: pods not bunks, Podestrians not guests, co-living not hostel. We kept it small and everyone wrote their name above or below their bed so it was personal. We created a social network with a physical address, a place that people have described as “Narnia” because it feels like home.
People ask what inspired PodShare and I have three replies:
- MTV’s Real World – (what happens if you put 10 strangers under one roof and take away privacy?)
- My strict Russian mother not allowing me to have slumber parties until I left for college at 18 (all my friends could and I would lay in bed wondering what it was like, jealous I couldn’t be a part of it).
- My hustler father saying that a true entrepreneur makes money while he sleeps (well I took that literally and earn when others sleep, and yes, the hustle is real).
PodShare is for the curious introvert and the energetic extrovert alike. Every guest receives a membership profile (a time capsule of their stay written by our team), and we are developing a social booking app that let’s you see WHO is booked in before your arrival (like Facebook meets Kayak).
Three years ago, the pods were just an idea. Now, PodShare is a community brand determined to be the “best” – social travel from booking to bed. We’re still expanding, growing, and looking for ways to share and collaborate.
Follow our journey as we document it @ http://elvinabeck.com/startup-kids/ and let us know if you want to see more! We are all about experimenting and experiencing – come hang out with us at our co-working space @ https://desksnear.me/locations/podshare-hollywood/6566-pods