In the past year, Breather — which provides users access to on-demand office spaces — has gained a lot of traction for its platform. The Montreal-based company has partnered with real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield to fuel its international expansion, and last year raised a $20 million series B including Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures after it expanded into the US.
As part of its expansion plans, the company has officially announced that it has expanded into Toronto and set up shop at 96 Spadina Avenue. Ashleigh Berger, the Toronto lead for Breather, said that the company had already tried two years ago to expand into the city, but found that there were more funding opportunities in the United States. “We’re a Canadian company and naturally people in Toronto are aware of Canadian startups so from a demand point of view, it’s quite favourable for us to be able to move into Toronto,” said Berger. “In the US, it was a strategic move, so there was a bit of heavy lifting on the brand side to be able to educate users on what Breather is.”
“People need access to third space and this is somewhere outside of home or office where they can get productive work done.”
Like every city that it expands to, Breather looked at demographics and the potential for supply and demand in Toronto. The company is launching its first spaces in the financial district and fashion districts, as these areas have the highest concentrations of Toronto-based workers.
“Toronto and Ontario specifically has some of the largest commute times in North America, and we pay some of the highest prices here in Toronto, so access to space is limited, especially for startups or entrepreneurs,” said Berger. “If you look across the mobile workers sector, there’s 13 million mobile workers across Canada.”
Companies like Uber, Shopify, and Facebook have already signed on to its Breather For Teams platform, which allows entire organizations to sign up for the platform and provide employees access to space.
“In terms of where you have access to private space, you have your work and your home, And what we’re finding is that people need access to third space and this is somewhere outside of home or office where they can get productive work done,” Berger said. She said that the company keeps a consistent experience in every city, with well-lit rooms under 1,000 square feet, easy access from the street, and reliable Wi-Fi. The company has seen use cases from one-on-one meets for employees, therapists booking spaces to meet with clients privately, and even baby showers.
The company plans to expand to five major cities in the next quarter of 2016, including its first European location in London, England. “We’re obviously really excited to be launching in Toronto, the city is ready for a service like Breather to come in.”