By Jack Seymour
Good2Go is a subscription-based app that connects public users to a network of available restrooms throughout San Francisco. Through proprietary hands-free design and technology, they not only ensure accessibility, but also a level of cleanliness and quality for consistent user experience. As CEO, Fran Heller explains, “We really consider the whole platform of our technologies to be what we would call “Smart City” technology. Connecting people to a site they need to access at the time they need to access it. So, like a short-term credential or a visitor pass for bathrooms.”
Good2Go has 4,000 square feet of office and showroom space located at 540 Hampshire Street in the Mission District.
Sitting down with Heller and head of construction, Pete Gualfetti, they told me more about their unique product, how it functions with retail space owners/operators and what happens when you need a showroom but you’re working out of your apartment.
SEYMOUR. I recently addressed this in my blog with the section: “The bathroom struggle is real.” It explored the growing issue of bathroom access for San Francisco’s office tenants. How does Good2Go address issues surrounding access for retail tenants in the city?
HELLER AND GUALFETTI. The office dynamic that you wrote about is very common just as you described, and we would call that a “closed system” or one that is controlled internally for staff use. The system we decided to bring to market first is the “open system” where our subscription-based consumers, through our app, can access any Good2Go bathroom all over town.
As we talked to retailers about the struggles they experience in a storefront, and it can be a cafe, a coffee shop, a bookstore or a grocery store; access to the restroom in a busy urban environment was a repeat theme. We’ve all experienced it right? So, we basically thought, if the preference of the retailer or the store owner is “I only want my customers to use the restroom,” how can we pair consumers looking for restrooms with that available restroom in a mutually beneficial way? Our model puts those two things together at the same time and solves the problem of non-customer use.
SEYMOUR. Backing up to the beginning of this idea, can you tell us a bit about your early days? What was it like working from home?
HELLER AND GUALFETTI. While we were still “stealth,” my apartment building, which has a free boardroom, was our first office. We stayed there as long as we possibly could. It was the physicality of our product that meant we just had to find space. One of our builders/designers built our early prototype in his driveway. Our engineering firm converted one of their conference rooms into a simulated restroom without any of the fixtures. Our partnerships early on were phenomenal. They really helped us bring our physical product to life, without us having to outlay much initial capital investment.
SEYMOUR. As a hardware startup, how have you maximized use of your space?
HELLER AND GUALFETTI. What was super important for us when we were looking for space was, the physical part of our technology is very difficult to emulate—we had videos and we mocked it up… You can only really take that so far. People want to physically experience and see our tech at work. That part of our ability to demonstrate and allow a retailer to see a “before” and an “after,” that’s what really helped us sell our first 10 locations.
Now that we have a city up and running, could we do away with our showroom? We probably could, but it now doubles as a testing area. We intend to roughly double the size of the team over the next 12 months and as such, some of the Cafe demo space will need to be re-purposed. We didn’t want to have to move again for quite some time. I think we have a great mix of production, recreation and office space.
SEYMOUR. What markets is Good2Go looking to expand into?
HELLER AND GUALFETTI. Our two biggest cohorts are tourists and the on-demand workforce. You really need a mix of environments that are super convenient for tourists, and one that is convenient for drivers. We have a waiting list now for our next phase of expansion. Over the next 12 to 18 months we will likely double and triple. We’ve had a lot of requests from the East Bay and South Bay, which seems like a logical next step.
We’d originally planned to launch in New York following the Bay Area. After we launched, we had so much inbound interest from other cities that it has caused us to now plan for multiple city launches ahead of New York. The inbound interest came from Philadelphia and New Orleans and more recently Tokyo in time for the 2020 Olympics. So, super exciting time for us! We then want to head to London, Paris and Asia. It’s great validation to hear from other cities that this is a great solution for them.
SEYMOUR. So what’s in it for the retail owner or landlord? In addition to having a new, clean, access controlled facility, can a tenant realistically expect to monetize their bathroom amenities? If so, by how much?
HELLER AND GUALFETTI. In our model there are two new revenue streams that would come about from installing a Good2Go technology kit. One would be the revenue-share. From all of the subscription passes that we sell, we share that revenue with our location partner.
Because they are getting a digital customer, once that Good2Go app user is on site, it’s very likely just looking at retail statistics, that they will stay and make a purchase. Even if that person doesn’t make a purchase on-site, that location partner learns about a new digital customer, because we share our demographic data.
SEYMOUR. Bathroom remodels aren’t a cheap and easy feat in San Francisco… Who is responsible for the associated costs and install?
HELLER AND GUALFETTI. It was important to us when we came up with the model that it was one that could apply to small business or to big brands. In some ways we call it “slide scale.” We can install it and pay for it, and then we adjusted the revenue share percentage to account for those costs. Alternatively, they can pay for it and max out their rev-share.
The location partner would get 2 percent if we install it, all the way up to 20 percent if they undertake the cost. Big brands are generally the ones undertaking the costs themselves. They’ve got the money in their [capital expense] budget, and in some ways our transformation can be less expensive than a full renovation. On top of that, it takes what is normally a sunk cost of a tenant improvement and converts it to a revenue-generating model.
SEYMOUR. Final word?
HELLER AND GUALFETTI. Given the technology that we have today for smart cities, it really felt like access to a restroom got left behind. We spoke to quite a few smart city planners and engineering firms about how cities should evolve to really address the needs. If you look at something so common and everyday like how people access the restroom, it is one of the areas with the least amount of innovation and the largest market.
Jack Seymour is a leasing associate at Transwestern’s San Francisco office, Jack’s primary role is to serve as an analyst and communicator on major projects working alongside the established office leasing team of Jeff Moeller, Peter Conte and Zac Monsees. He is also responsible for developing relationships with and serving the needs of local and/or national prospective clients as well as providing diverse marketing support for leasing services.