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On-Demand Workspace Startup Breather Wants to be Like Starbucks, Not Airbnb

Julien Smith, founder of Breather, says it was a stupid, crazy idea at the outset; on-demand room rental in cities for as little as an hour, offering a quiet space for workers, entrepreneurs and others. But the service, which now handles thousands of reservations at nearly 100 properties in Canada and the U.S. each week, seems much more sane now that they've attracted a significant new funding round. The announcement of a new $20 million round of funding led by Valar Ventures (helmed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel) brings Breather's total investment to $28.5 million, and more importantly to potential users, allows the on-demand workspace startup to expand to new markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., London and Toronto. It also provides more legitimacy for the model, says Smith, who founded the company in Montreal in 2012, a middle ground between coworking space and camping out at coffee shops.

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