Breather launched its “Zipcar for rooms” at the LeWeb conference in London today. The startup also revealed closing $1.5 million to accelerate development and growth.
The goal is to give people a place to find peace and quiet anytime they want it. Founder Julien Smith said that a city’s landscape is inaccessible and public space often “sucks.” If you are away from your home or office and need a place to rest, a coffee shop is often the best option. Breather takes unused rooms and turns it into space that users can access through their phone.
“People need time to recuperate, work, charge their phones, nap, or just get some downtime in between meetings,” Smith said in an email. “Cities are increasingly dense and noisy. People aren’t getting enough sleep and real estate costs are on the rise. We are there to create a sanctuary inside a city. This is kind of a company built by introverts or those with a need for ‘me-time.'”
All of the spaces include a couch, a desk, Wi-Fi, and electrical outlets. Breather’s staff maintains these roms, and only registered members can enter. Using the Breather app, you can reserve a space for a certain amount of time and then head to that room. Breather has partnered with Lockitron, a popular startup that enables you to lock/unlock a door with your phone. Like Zipcar, you can pay-per-use or on a subscription basis.
Breather is starting in New York City and will begin a “slow national roll out.” Smith is committed to maintaining spaces that are quiet, private, clean, safe, and accessible at any time. This model won’t be easy to scale, as it requires a significant amount of manpower, maintenance, and physical space (which is expensive). Are enough people desperate for respite that they will use Breather? We shall see.
Breather is based in New York City and Montreal. Smith has published three New York Times bestselling books dealing with how to design a business to it succeeds online. Real Ventures led this round of financing with Gary Vaynerchuk, Loic Le Meur, Mike Walsh and others also participating.
Photo credit: LeWeb