There’s about to be an exclusive club the holds the keys to the most sanitary bathrooms in New York City. A new app called Looie will soon provide access to the pristine bathrooms throughout lower Manhattan. There is a catch, though: a subscription of $25 a month.
The process is simple. Pay $25, download an app, search for a participating location near you (you can see which ones are available or vacant), reserve a bathroom, arrive, show your virtual key, and BAM -- clean bathroom.
Prior, New Yorkers had to pour through Yelp reviews, awkwardly walk into a coffee shop or wait in the dreaded line at Starbucks. It’s not just the general sharing economy of bathrooms that blew up earlier this year with startup Airpnp. Looie’s founder and CEO Yezin Al-Qaysi is guaranteeing quality. He’s even cleaning them by himself, for now, and adding technical amenities including baby-changing tables and other decor.
“I know. All the sudden you're bottling up water and you're selling it. But here, you're getting a consistent, amazing experience all the time,” Al-Qaysi said. “You won't have to flush with your foot anymore.”
Al-Qaysi with his sister as a cofounder have been building the company supported by an undisclosed amount of angel investors’ money. While his cofounder has been designing the app and manning the customer support page on their website, Al-Qaysi has been on research and development at their first test location, Mulberry & Vine, collecting data on bathroom use. “It started off as an experiment but it’s shown there's a system and a level of consistency,” he said.
Looie isn’t charging businesses for the service and his test spot Mulberry & Wine is letting them work out of the facilities. "It's tough that no restaurants want to add anything to the budget. This isn't just about cleaning. It's about what it does to your business," Al-Qaysi said.
For now, the cost will be placed on the consumer. The company's currently taking pre-orders, capping it at 500. When the app launches in July, there will be five businesses, seven bathrooms, available for use. Al-Qaysi said he plans to roll out 40 more facilities within the year. They’re starting in Tribeca and then plan to cover the Financial District, SoHo and West Village.
The 27-year-old entrepreneur has a lot more ideas in mind when it comes to future projects. While he took my call walking the streets of New York with blaring sirens from ambulances, we brainstormed an app for finding quiet interview spots. He also suggested a laser-detection technology in shoes that would go off whenever dog poop was nearby.
But it was the lack of accessible, and clean, bathrooms Al-Qaysi came across while working in the city on his e-commerce startup DoBundle, that motivated him to start Looie. “One of the main problems we quickly found out was finding a bathroom was the bane of every New Yorker's existence,” Al-Qaysi said.