Like Peas in a Pod: Startup Aims to Bring Co-Working to Cannabis

A Florida-based startup aims to create what it calls the first-ever “co-growing and co-working space for cannabis entrepreneurs,” aimed at providing an affordable, scalable grow space to aspiring commercial cultivators.

Slated to launch this summer, Podwerks says the company will set up shop in “urban designated zones permitting the commercial cultivation and sale of cannabis related products.” Each planned site will consist of modified steel shipping containers that have been outfitted with hydroponic grow equipment, lights, climate control, as well as stations for seedings, clones, and curing.

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Office space will also be available, according to a company fact sheet, and the organizers plan to put on cannabis-focused programming to help educate members and encourage networking.

“Podwerks members can benefit from a series of series of social and professional events designed to foster collaboration and create a strong and expansive community,” according to promotional material. “Some of these events will include speaker series, investor panels and local government outreach, among others.”

The company’s website includes a video mockup of what a Podwerks location might look like:

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Podwerks 360 from Podwerks on Vimeo.

In an interview with Allwork.Space, a publication about flexible workplaces, co-founders Frank Yglesias and Matt Arnett said the company’s goal is to allow individuals to “cooperate to find the best practices for the industry, find a sustainable growth method, and work alongside government institutions.”

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The first hurdle? Making sure those government institutions allow Podwerks sites to exist. As the company tells Allwork.Space, regulatory uncertainty is the company’s chief obstacle:

Our biggest challenge so far has been the uncertainty of regulation. Because we can’t control that, we are offering Podwerks as a sort of guinea pig; try this model and see how it goes. We want to build an understanding of how the entire cannabis industry works. This is what makes Podwerks so unique; it provides an opportunity for local governments to build relationships with local growers. It will also allow the government to educate new growers and it can help eliminate the black market by providing distribution oversight.

While Podwerks may be the first to offer a cooperative workspace and grow area, its use of shipping containers continues an industry trend. Other companies, such as PharmPods, have made a business of kitting out containers for growers. Advertised advantages include scalability, security, and speed to market.

While a 40-foot, fully-stocked grow container can cost upward of $40,000, a Podwerks membership is a bit more affordable. A roughly equivalent 40-foot cultivation space has a monthly price tag of $8,500.

Just getting started? Smaller spaces are cheaper. Podwerks’s lowest-tier membership option, dubbed “Grow Mini,” costs $750 per month and includes a five-square-foot cultivation space.

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