The idea of helping people find empty desks or offices spaces isn’t new, but co-founder and CEO Julien Smith was emphatic that Breather isn’t an office sharing startup.
I mean, the idea is basically a variant of office sharing, but as the company name implies, the focus is less on productivity and more on identifying “breathing rooms” where you can find some peace and quiet. In Smith’s words, they rooms should be spaces “where you can take your shoes off.”
The idea, he said, emerged from his own travel, where he often found himself in different cities, trying to work at one coffee shop after another. Sure, many of those spots will do in a pinch, but if you’ve found yourself crammed into a uncomfortable chair listening to the jerk next to you talk loudly on a speaker phone, well, you know that they don’t always provide an ideal experience.
Smith said Breather offers “the highest level of curation,” with the team visiting each potential space and rejecting the majority of them.
As for how those spaces are being used, Smith said, “Broadly speaking, it’s a productivity space for any kind of work, not just sitting and your desk writing a post for TechCrunch, though it’s good for that, too.” In fact, Smith said his board of directors meets in Breather rooms.
The Series A, which brings Breather’s total funding to $7.5 million, was led by RRE Ventures, with participation from Vayner/RSE, Real Ventures, SOS Ventures, and others. In the funding release, RRE Principal Steve Schlafman described using the service for the first time as a “flawless experience,” and he said the firm was “surprised to discover that not only business professionals were using Breather spaces, but also freelancers, artists, actors and general travelers looking for a quiet place.”
Breather is currently available in New York and Montreal, and it’s launching in San Francisco. Smith said the the company currently sees thousands of active users every month, who make a reservation every five minutes. And while it’s been cautious with the initial growth (it launched in March), Breather plans to use the new funding ready to expand more aggressively.
“At the end of this round, we should own every major market in America,” Smith said.