Customer Review: Julien Smith’s Breather

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I’ve been watching Julien Smith’s new startup, Breather, with interest ever since it launched in June of 2013. If you’re unfamiliar with Breather, it’s basically rentable quiet space for business. Some people have called it room-sharing (similar to ridesharing) or other slightly clumsy comparisons. I had a chance to use the Flatiron 2 space in New York City recently to host a business luncheon and webinar for SHIFT Communications.

Breather is elementary to use. You log into the website, find a suitable location that fits what you’re looking for (based on room capacity), and then rent it by the hour. To make use of the actual spaces, you show up with your smartphone and the Breather app. You touch your phone to start your time, get a unique PIN code for the door, and you’re in the space.

What can you use Breather for? Ostensibly, it’s for the traveling businessperson who needs a breather, who needs a quiet place to work with some seating, high speed Internet access, and none of the distractions that come with places like coffee shops (and the associated noise). The facilities are intentionally spartan – whiteboards and chairs, couches, Wi-Fi and power, and restrooms. Not much more is included.

That’s not what I used Breather for. SHIFT has an office in downtown Manhattan – a very nice one, to boot, but with it being fully staffed and the team there keeping super-busy, the conference rooms in the office are almost always booked, all the time. Breather has everything I need to hold a simple meeting or webinar while hosting people in a professional, clean environment that isn’t a hotel room or hotel conference room. I had to bring in my own large-screen monitor for participants in the room to see the webinar (as well as lunch) but beyond that, the space was perfect. The space would be just as appropriate for smaller meetings, for media briefings and off-site desksides, etc.

Oh, and the price? 25/hour for the Breather space I used. Let that sink in for a moment.25/hour for a space that comfortably holds 10+ people in Lower Manhattan. That’s an outlandish steal, when regular executive suite rentals and conference room rentals run 150-200/hour easily. Hotel conference rooms are even more expensive. If you’re doing business in any city that Breather has a location in, you owe it to your bottom line to see if Breather is available and practical for your business needs. I know I’ll be going back.

Disclosure: I received no compensation, direct or indirect, from Breather for writing this review.

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