Breather Gives The World On Demand Private Meeting Spaces
Julien Smith is the CEO of Breather, an innovative company that provides on-demand spaces for individuals and teams that can be rented by the hour for higher productivity.
As the first in a series of interviews with companies we believe the Digaboom community will benefit from knowing and using we asked Julien to share a bit more about his company and why you should check it out.
You’ve done a lot of different work during your career. What was the spark that gave you the idea for Breather?
As an author, I used to travel a lot to support the books that I published. So, I’d wind up in a variety of cities around the world, staying in hotels and not knowing anything about the city. Most of my day time experiences were spent seeking out Starbucks over and over again.
Right around this time, I felt there was going to be some kind of evolution around ‘space’ and I didn’t really think about what it was, but I knew people were going to begin seeking out space for a variety of reasons.
Then it clicked and I realized that by everyone having a mobile phone and there being electronic locks out on the market that anyone could be given a key to any door where one of these locks exist.
I thought, “That’s very interesting. People normally only have a key to a few places and wouldn’t it be powerful if we could give people hundreds of temporary keys to individual places that they could access when they needed to. Let’s see what happens if we build it.”
We built it and we are still building it now.
We’ve raised $30 million in funding, there are now one hundred employees, we are open in five cities and will be in ten cities by the end of the quarter.
Is Breather only for individuals or are teams finding benefits from it?
Breather for Teams is our corporate offering. Lots of large organizations like Uber, Blue Apron and Google are using it.
Any company that has a remote sales force or any company that has meetings for a living doesn’t have a lot of options for private meeting spaces.
With the rise in popularity of coworking locations, how can you justify the need for freelancers to use a Breather when there is a coffee shop on every corner?
Coworking places are intended for only half of the standard office.
An office is made up of two sections: the desk part and the meeting room part.
Most coworking locations work very effectively towards the desk part where they split up the desks and the square footage so that it becomes really effective and affordable. But, no one does the meeting room part right.
We don’t see Breather competing with most coworking spaces because what people really need and there is a lack of supply of is meeting spaces. In dense cities there are almost never any private spaces where you can go and meet with someone. This means you have to conduct your meetings in a public place. We provide an alternative private space.
We compete more with Starbucks than we do with WeWork.
We love that you are here in Boston and see that London is on the horizon. How do you choose which markets to open in?
We function through population density. Downtown areas mean a lot to us.
We have a rollout similar to Uber, where we have to have a concentrated rollout in a super dense metropolitan area. Usually for us, the less car related they are the better.
So, we would chose London or Chicago over say a place like Dallas where it is almost all highways.
What tools do you use daily to get your work done?
Obviously, I’m not going to say my mobile phone because at this point that is trivial to say. The apps that I use all the time are
- Omnifocus which is one of the best and most expensive apps out there, but it is amazing. It is where I keep my core “to-dos.”
- Do! which gives me reoccurring reminders of things I need to be doing.
Almost my whole life is lived through email, Slack and a few other tools.
Now, there are enough people in my company that almost all of my work has become communicating. So I’m empowered to do almost everything I need to do through those things.
Favorite inspirational business quote?
Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm
— Winston Churchill
What advice would you give to the freelancer out there who might be questioning if they should stick it out longer or throw in the towel?
Are you able to materially differentiate yourself? Are you truly offering something that is significantly more valuable than others?
Should you raise your prices? If you doubled your prices what would happen?
What is coming in the future that has you excited?
Self-driving cars excite me and anything Internet of Things related.
I’m not very interested in virtual reality even though it appears to becoming a thing.
The rise of the developing world and how it affects the world. In my work I think about cities and nine of the ten top cities in the world are outside of the United States. That is a very big deal for me.
If you haven’t already done so, visit Breather.com to get a free hour to try their on-demand meeting rooms and workspace. Don’t forget to install their iOS or Android app on your phone so that you can access a Breather wherever your work takes you.
Use promocode DIGABOOM or click here to redeem your free hour.
Thank you Julien for your time and we hope to see some Breather customers joining our community soon.