Breather: Workspaces for the new economy

Organization: Breather
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Innovative new app allows users to rent workspaces by the hour

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“In my previous job,” says Breather founder, Julien Smith, “I wrote business books, some of which were bestsellers. And so people would fly me all over the place for speaking gigs and I found myself constantly in cities that I’d never been to, wishing I had a place to rest between meetings without having to go all the way back to my hotel."

It kept happening, and Smith kept thinking about a possible, commercially viable solution. His answer, launched in late October 2013, came in the form of Breather.

What is Breather?

“Breather is primarily a way to access space in a city,” says Smith. “Space that has been too expensive or just too difficult to access in the past is now available and affordable thanks to technology.”

So you can rent a room or a small apartment or office space by the hour. Usually for $15/hour. The space is clean, private and safe.

How Breather works

  • You download the Breather app onto your smartphone (available for both iPhone and Android).

  • The app displays all Breather locations (there are about 20 so far in Montreal and NYC, with more coming in San Francisco in June 2014).

  • The app allows you to book the number of hours that you need and provides you with a code that helps open and electronic lock at your Breather site.

  • When your time is up, you leave. A cleaner shows up to make sure the space is presentable for the next user (and to ensure that no one exceeds their paid-for time).

Who’s using Breather

“It’s always interesting to see what will happen socially when you introduce something new,” says Smith. So far, the thousands of people who’ve downloaded the Breather app seem to be using it in the following ways:

- Need a place to go and rest between appointments downtown

- Need a nice place to meet a client

- Pop up shops to sell clothes

- Celebrities in NYC often rent Breather rooms to rehearse between shoots

Smith says the most common question he gets when people use the service is, “How come this didn’t already exist?”.

At the moment, all Breather sites are ones that Breather has exclusive access to. But eventually, Smith says, they might be open to going towards a more sharing economy model (similar to AirBnB) where people can make a little extra cash by renting out their apartments or studios while they’re at their day jobs. “To me the sharing economy is about making cities more efficient, livable and user-friendly. Breather uses technology to do just that.”

Tip: Follow @breather on Twitter where they sometimes give away free Breather hours to new users.

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