Plexpod isn’t playing.
Amid Kansas City’s competitive coworking market, Plexpod is doubling down with the acquisition of Think Big Coworking’s 1712 Main Street location, Plexpod founder Gerald Smith said. The acquisition adds more than 30,000 square feet of space to Plexpod’s already large footprint in the area and forges a new partnership between the two organizations to offer members more resources for growth.
The deal — the value of which Smith declined to disclose — represents a broader plan for Plexpod, he added.
“When we started, we envisioned a network of facilities that could bring better connectivity among entrepreneurs and growth-stage companies across the metro and Midwest,” Smith said. “This is another step.”
As of Jan. 1, Think Big Coworking will become Plexpod Crossroads, at which time the company will also embark on an of yet-to-be-determined remodeling plan. The company will manage the building’s second, third, fourth and fifth floors, with a potential to lease the sixth floor, Smith said. Code Koalas operates on its first floor.
With the acquisition of Think Big Coworking, Plexpod will manage more than 220,000 square feet of office space at its three locations across the Kansas City area. With the Crossroads, Westport and Lenexa, Kansas, branches, Plexpod will play host to more than 225 companies that can access each of the different locations, Smith said.
In addition to the acquisition, Think Big Partners will be deploying a new incubator program — Think Big Labs — at each Plexpod location. The program will focus on emerging technologies and serve as an innovation lab focused on helping communities prepare for and foster entrepreneur-led economic growth. Think Big will continue to offer smart city consulting services
The two brands aim to spur the growth of Kansas City and the Midwest through a focus on cultivating innovation, said Herb Sih, Think Big Partners co-founder.
“Seven years ago, we set out to build the kind of dynamic workspaces that we as entrepreneurs longed for but could not find in traditional real estate,” Sih said. “In Plexpod, we’ve found kindred spirits who understand the impact entrepreneurs can make when they have access to resources, mentors, and inspiring spaces in which to work. We are excited to help communities throughout the U.S. unlock economic growth through innovation and entrepreneur-led economic development with a strong Plexpod platform and partnership.”
While the deal firmly establishes Plexpod as the largest coworking company in Kansas City, the young, up-and-coming firm still has plenty of local competition — most notably WeWork Corrigan Station, which operates a few blocks away from the Plexpod Crossroads location. Well-heeled with a recent $4.4 billion investment, WeWork boasts a swanky 40,000-square-foot, three-story space in Kansas City and offers access to an international network of facilities.
LevelOffice, a Chicago-based coworking firm, also plans to open a facility in Kansas City in 2018. Already with 15 offices in such U.S. locations as Indianapolis, Phoenix and Seattle, LevelOffice will create a nearly 45,000 square foot space in downtown Kansas City.
Other area coworking providers include iWerx, OfficePort, the Grid, Cowork Waldo and Village Square.
But while competitors are plentiful, Smith said Kansas City’s coworking community is highly collaborative — in part because it hasn’t fully met the area’s demand.
“A question I get asked all the time — especially from people in real estate — is ‘How many Plexpods can there be in Kansas City? How many small and growth stage companies are there out there that can benefit from this type of workplace environment?’” said Smith, a native of Louisiana. “The answer is ‘There’s a lot.’”
In summer 2017, Plexpod opened its Westport Commons location, a 160,000-square-foot facility housed within the historic former Westport Middle School. The firm also operates a branch in Lenexa, which opened in 2014.
Known for its colorful decor and creative office spaces, Plexpod also offers its tenants additional resources like soundstage and photography studios, a performance theater, event spaces, cafes, kitchens, fitness, gaming and outdoor spaces.
The three Plexpod locations are just the beginning for the company, Smith said.
“Expansion is exciting — we have several other cities that we’re working on deals in,” Smith said. “It’s exciting to take what we’re seeing work in Kansas City and replicate that.”