Meet Breather: bespoke room-letting at $20 an hour [LeWeb]



If Airbnb ever had a sibling it would be Julian Smith’s new startup Breather. Launched today at Le Web London, Smith along with CTO Alex Payne (ex-Twitter and former CTO of Simple), launched what they call a “Zipcar for rooms”. Not just any rooms though. A bespoke network of rooms that are cleaned and checked regularly. “A distributed private club,” that’s always open, according to Smith..

For those who need a little more space than the local Starbucks can provide, Breather will provide shelter for around US$20 an hour. Opened with your phone (naturally!) each room has undergone a strict selection process and more are “curated” every day.

I grabbed Smith to get more details about what could essentially be used for “interesting” purposes.

Ventureburn: How are you going to stop “undesirables” from using the service?

Julian Smith:Our spaces not only have cameras outside them, but we also know more about our users than hotel rooms and can ban them at will since the method of entry is by smartphone. I sincerely doubt that is something we will need to worry about.

VB: Fair enough. Is this a real problem? What is your insight here?

JS: Living in dense cities allows you access to less than one percent of its physical space. You always have to buy something to be there or sit next to someone loud. You can’t be yourself or relax. We wanted an alternative.

VB: What’s the future for the service look like?

JS: Expansion into all kinds of cities and locations. We start off private, and then open the network to more users as time goes on. Eventually it’s worldwide.

VB: How are locations chosen?

JS: We work with property owners by invitation only right now. We want to make sure it’s a good building, decent sized room, always with an exclusive door, so the guest never has to ask anyone for permission to enter (only reserve through the app).

VB: How is this social? What’s the growth plan?

JS: It’s probably more anti-social. Cities are getting dense as hell. This is for time away in dense metropolitan areas, so you can find peace and quiet at will.

VB: Why should people care — in a time of (somewhat) “make do and mend” — what’s your projections? How are you going to part people with their money?

JS: Not everyone has to care, but those who will know who they are. If you’ve ever had a phone call in a noisy Starbucks, or wandered around for an hour between meetings because you didn’t know where to go, this could be for you.

VB: Are other brands/services involved etc? E.g. Furniture supplied by… etc.?

JS: Yup, over time we’ll develop partnerships with everyone. Right now our primary partner is Lockitron, who developed the locks we’ll be using to get people into the rooms.

VB: Tell me a bit about you — why this? Why now? What’s next?

JS: I am obsessed with quiet and physical privacy, and I love beautiful spaces. As mobile and other “internet of things” technology emerged, I figured I could do something about it. This is the result.



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Ventureburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.