Breathe in. Breathe out.
There. Don’t you feel better? Sometimes you just need a minute (or two) to get everything together. But, where do you go if you’re in a noisy city like New York? Julien Smith, founder of Breather, has the answer. This startup first launched last year as a network of rooms that users can access via a mobile application. They raised $1.5 million, and Smith explained in an interview with Techli what his startup is all about.
“The principle behind Breather is that we want to democratize cities. So the way we go about doing that is we take excess real estate, and then we make partnerships with that real estate and turn them into rooms that you can open with a phone at anytime,” said Smith. “On-demand space is inevitable. It was just about how it was going to be done. As soon as I saw the technology emerging, I knew what the implications were. So I went for it.”
Of course, expansion to other cities has been slower than originally thought, but they’ve made great progress this past year. In an interview in February, Smith talked about rapid expansion in San Francisco, followed by Boston, Chicago, Toronto and LA. They’ve since backed off that aggressive timeline, raised more money, and are focused on adding more available rooms in New York City.
“New York was running so well that we just decided we wanted to understand a city deeply before proceeding,” said Smith via email. “It turned out to be a wise investment of time – it lets us make sure we launch cities 100% successfully in the future.”
They expanded from three to 12 rooms in NYC in six months and are planning to be at 100 available rooms within the next year. They also now have three available rooms in San Francisco, and it’s going extremely well for the startup. The company announced today that it has raised an additional $6 million led by RRE Ventures.
According to Smith, they have actors using the space for rehearsals, business people are using it to make calls and use wi-fi, and designers are even creating pop-up shop locations.
What do you think? Would you use a service like Breather here in the Midwest? While Smith didn’t specifically cite Chicago or any other cities for expansion this time, more cities are coming. The $6 million in funding will be used for expansion to more cities, for more engineering staff, and a bigger office in New York. “We know that we can grow pretty effectively now that our basic model is in place, so a lot of it is to help scale,” said Smith on raising additional funds.
While it’s not as great as actually being in the space, take a minute to enjoy a “digital” breather by taking a look inside some of their San Francisco rooms. Enjoy!