Breather is a new startup billed as a sort of “Zipcar for rooms”. Announced at the LeWeb conference in London and due to launch later this year, it’s closed $1.5 million in funding from Canadian VC Real Ventures, along with Gary Vaynerchuk, Loic Le Meur, Mike Walsh and others. The idea is to have a network of well-kept rooms – sort of mini business lounges – which a user can unlock with a smartphone app. That’s it.
The idea is to create rooms where people can chill out, rest or get work done in peace and quiet. To literally take a breather. The spaces will have a couch, a desk, Wi-Fi, and electrical outlets. Breather will arrange for the rooms to be cleaned and maintained. If the room gets trashed or a user does something disallowed (use your imagination) they are banned. But if they are a good customer they get special privileges, like gifting their friends ‘Breather time’.
The startup has partnered with Lockitron, makers of a lock that enables you to lock/unlock a door with your phone. Like Zipcar, you can pay-per-use or on a subscription basis.
Of course, it would appeal to travellers or business people but also to the rising number of global nomads, as well as to real estate companies that have rooms in buildings which are burning cash but bringing nothing in.
Founder Julien Smith – a former journalist – says he hopes to unlock aspects of a city that people rarely get to see or use. He estimates rental fees will be around $20 per hour when the company launches fully later this year.
After New York City, there will be a slow national roll out, with other cities in the pipeline, like London.
[Thanks to Chris Leydon for the camera work.]