PodShare: This Silicon Valley startup is the modern-day answer to hostels
Before the launch of Airbnb in 2007, hostels were the way to go for travellers on a shoestring budget. 12 years later, the renowned vacation listing has branched out with tiers such as Airbnb Plus and Airbnb Luxe, swaying customers to want to pay more for a premium product. The solution for affordable travel? A hostel that has reinvented themselves for the youth of this generation — say hello to PodShare.
The idea of PodShare is genius. The Silicon Valley startup is like a hotel, hostel, and Airbnb all in one, because you can choose to stay there for just one night, one month, or one year. Short-term travellers will find their pricing of US$50 a night unbeatable, while those looking to stay for a longer period of time pay US$1,200 a month. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, where there are five and one PodShares respectively, affordable housing is scarce and paying US$2,000 a month on rent barely gets you a studio.
If you remember the hostels of your youth, they were clean, basic, and functional — one half of a bunk bed for all your needs, a shared bathroom, and a common room for board games and all other forms of socializing. It might be a hazy memory to some of us, but it was nostalgic and served its purpose well.
How does PodShare differ from these hostels, apart from the fact that people can stay for months on end? Firstly, there's the strictly enforced quiet hours from 10pm to 10am, and the co-working aspect where you live and work in the same place, with access to podcast studios and conference rooms. You can literally network with the people you sleep with. Guests are also encouraged to live communally — this means cooking together and sharing meals, leaving behind bathroom amenities for the next person, and lounging together. We think it makes a living dream for extroverts out there, and a potential nightmare for introverts.
Millennial terms are the rage at PodShare. Guests are called 'podestrians' and bunk beds are called 'pods' — a term the Instagram generation readily embrace, and which your grandmother will cast a quizzical gaze at. Daily necessities, such as toilet paper, cereal, and ramen (a tad random, but we'll take it) are included in your stay. Each pod is a cosy three-walled affair, with a Murphy bed with a desk tucked underneath, a flat-screen television, shelf, and a hook for your bath towel. Scribble your name on the chalkboard above or below your head, and you've called dibs on that space.
With all the advantages this co-working and co-living space brings, there are a couple of disadvantages. You've probably guessed that privacy is one of them. What else? No sex or outside guests are allowed in the PodShare. All the bunk beds are built facing each other, so the community pretty much policies itself.
PodShare has in place a pre-screening process before anyone is allowed to stay. You'll find entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, and people working for digital companies here — we think it's like a Soho House of sorts, sans any prestige or glamour attached to it. And perhaps with community being so important to folks these days (think co-working spaces, gym classes, activity forums), this could just be their new preferred way to live.