Member Spotlight: Plexpod
Feb 06, 2020
The workforce of today is not our grandparents’ or even our parents’ workforce. The jobs have changed, how we do them has changed, and where we do our work has changed. Coworking spaces are everywhere. Today we’re shining our Member Spotlight on one of Greater KC’s fastest growing co-working spaces, Plexpod.
The business came to life in 2014 when company founders Gerald and Dianna Smith found themselves with an empty building in Lenexa. “I had become enamored with the sharing economy and how it was changing the economics for a changing workforce,” said Gerald Smith. “Our building was coming available and rather than listing it as a traditional lease we decided to invest in its redesign as a coworking facility.”
That coworking facility now provides next-generation workspace for entrepreneurs, startups, and growth-stage companies of all sizes. In addition to the space, Plexpod also offers desks, team spaces, meeting rooms, photography studios, event spaces, cafes and kitchens and even a dance studio. Currently Plexpod has four locations: Lenexa, Westport, Crossroads, and the River Market. Locations that Smith says are strategic. “We want to connect entrepreneurs across the Metro - many that might not otherwise have ever met.”
Plexpod’s yearly numbers are impressive:
- More than 270 member companies.
- 1,500 weekly users.
- 5,000 non-members who use Plexpod’s meeting spaces.
- 80,000 attendees at events held at Plexpod locations in 2019.
Smith says affordability seems to be the number one reason members are attracted to Plexpod – an entry level rate is just $100 per month – but he’s proud to say the sense of community is a close second. “Sure, it’s all about next-gen office space, but Plexpod just might also be a next-gen community center,” he says. “We have numerous individual members that are remote workers or regional reps for national companies. For many, they just need a place to get away from the distractions of home. We often say that we are secretly in the business of eliminating distractions and loneliness.”
Plexpod became a member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in early 2015, a membership that has become invaluable for Smith. “I wish I could convince every entrepreneur in the Metro to join the Chamber. As a life-long entrepreneur, I spent 25 years heads-down focused on our own success and growing our businesses, and I missed out on the significance of participating in the greater business community. For many young companies, I realize it is a matter of cost. But, if I could only pick one membership organization, it would be the Chamber.”
In 2019, Smith served on the Chamber’s Annual Dinner Committee and even provided the locations for a pair of high-profile murals celebrating Greater KC as one community. Artists JT Daniels and Phil “Sike Style” Shafer collaborated to create the murals on the exteriors of Plexpod’s River Market and Lenexa locations. With locations that reach entrepreneurs in both Missouri and Kansas, Plexpod was the perfect business to represent one Greater KC. "For many of our member-companies, Plexpod provides them with a presence on both sides of the state line, which is a huge advantage for some,” says Smith. “We regularly see companies leverage the opportunity to expand across the state line without the added cost of real estate or long-term lease commitments.”
With more entrepreneurs and start-ups turning to coworking spaces, Plexpod is growing to meet the demand. The company will announce a Downtown Kansas City location in a few weeks and additional locations later this year. Plexpod is also currently expanding outside the Kansas City Metro. But it’s not just about fast growth. Smith says it’s about sticking around.
“Going forward we are focusing intently on sustainability. That means our path includes profitability from the start. Commercial Real Estate is predicting huge growth for coworking over the next 10 years and we intend to be around,” he says. “While we may not have invented coworking, we do believe our vision for what it means to a community to have access to next-generation office and community space will be life-changing for many.”