February 25, 2014
I had the privilege to interview Max Gaudin, the co-founder and “PEO” of one of New Orleans’ newest and most-talked about startups, Airpnp. Max’s company provides a service that all of us probably wish we had at one time or another, and that is a service listing the best place to relieve ourselves when such a place is not readily available. That’s right, Airpnp gives users the ability to find and pay a small fee to use someone’s private bathroom. If you’ve ever been to Mardi Gras, then you know a useable, clean bathroom along the parade route is a hot commodity, especially when it’s not a public restroom or dreaded Porta John.
Tell me quickly about who you are, what your background is.
I have a startup called Sidework that sets up custom platforms for restaurants to train their people online.
What is the origin story behind Airpnp? Specifically, who came up with the idea and how did you land on it?
I came up with the idea a year ago when I was at a parade and really needed to go pee, but couldn’t find a place nearby. I forgot about it until a week ago when my friend (and now co-founder Travis Laurendine) mentioned it when we were at a King Cake party. We talked about it for a bit and decided basically, “f&$k it, let’s do it.” So I registered Airpnp.co and put a launch page up last Monday afternoon.
What’s the current status of the service? Has it launched yet, or do we have some time left to wait?
We started out with the launch page on Monday and the site went up on Saturday. 2,300 people signed up on the launch page over the span of a few days, and the site has recevied over 14K unique visitors from all over the planet. Airpnp is currently live, with residential and business bathrooms listed on the app (it is a web app). Users are prompted to rate their pee experience so others can see how each restroom stacks up.
We have also been covered in most of the major news outlets here, including an awesome interview on Fox 8 News that is available online. Someone coined the term “entrepeeneur” on Twitter Wednesday, and Fox 8 used the term in their segment that evening. We’ve received a remarkable amount of coverage and sharing on social media that most startups can only dream of in such a short span, including Sidework. We even won a ticket to TechCrunch Disrupt while competing against a bunch of other much more well-established startups at a local pitch event. It’s been wild.
Some have mentioned that Airpnp’s name might just be a little too close to another service that specializes in finding short-term rentals. Have you had any trouble yet? Either way, have you considered other names? UberThrone?
We have not heard from any other services with similar names. Haven’t considered anything else.
Obviously your New Orleans roots played a major role in developing this service. Do you see Airpnp being a viable service outside of New Orleans?
While New Orleans is a great place to have the first “entrepeeneurial” hub in the U.S., I definitely see us expanding into other markets. Clearly there’s a need when there’s a limited availability of restrooms, anywhere. We have to figure out how we can expand upon that. We’re just getting started with version #1. Version #2 will definitely be solid, but we still have yet to see what form that will be in.
What’s next for Airpnp? Any upcoming features you can tease us with?
We might run ads for bars and restaurants wanting to advertise their specials. People worry about manning their own restrooms, so we’re thinking about offering a VIPEE service where we rent out bathroom attendants to facilitate the pee experience.
From a marketing perspective, Airpnp is already golden because it markets itself, but we plan on bumping that up as well. We’re holding a contest where users add their restrooms to Airpnp and create an MTV Cribs style tour of their restrooms in exchange for the ultimate VIPEE experience, which might include a bar tab, balcony access, and of course unlimited pees.
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