Have you ever been walking around in a city, suddenly needed a bathroom, and had trouble finding one? Of course you have. We've all anxiously spent $2.50 at Starbucks just to get that restroom key. Relieving yourself is a basic human need, but one that's difficult to attend to if you're between destinations or wandering around as a tourist.

Startup Good2Go plans to solve the problem, first in San Francisco and then the entire world. CEO Fran Heller has an ambitious vision for her company, and sees the concept working from New York City (the next stop on the list) to Paris to Hong Kong and beyond. Heller has raised $7 million in seed funding from a group of investors including Netflix cofounder Marc Randolph.

The way it works is simple: Good2Go partners with local cafes and other retail locations to rent out their bathrooms. The Good2Go app is currently free, but soon there will be a subscription fee, which the startup will split with the location owner. It's not exactly like Airbnb for bathrooms, but the concept is pretty darn close. Current location partners include Peet's Coffee and techie staple The Creamery.

Good2Go's construction team revamps the existing bathroom as needed, making sure it meets high brand standards of cleanliness and sustainable energy use. Who bears the cost of renovation is negotiable, and if a location needs Good2Go to pay for more or all of it, then the startup will adjust the revenue split going forward.

As part of the process, Good2Go installs its access technology, which allows users to badge in and badge out via their phones. Existing customers don't have to download the app, they just need to ask a staff member for a printed QR code. The app also has a queuing function -- instead of awkwardly lingering near the door, you can wait wherever you want, and the app will let you know when it's your turn.

The Good2Go fee will be flexible depending on a given user's preferred timespan. One day costs $2.99, one week costs $14.99, one month costs $19.99, and three months cost $49.99. Currently the service is iOS-only, but the company plans to release an Android version by the end of October. Good2Go expects that key customer groups will include tourists, parents with small children, and sharing economy workers, especially since every Good2Go bathroom is all-gender and has a changing station.

As for the amount of money that location owners will get, a company representative explained, "All early access retail partners are guaranteed a minimum revenue of $5,000 for the first year. Moving forward, and depending on the cost share of the installation, the revenue-share is a sliding percent of the subscriber usage at their location."

Heller did extensive market research after coming up with the concept for Good2Go, and discovered that bathroom access isn't just a pain point for consumers, but also for location owners. Namely, restricting access is difficult, especially when staff members are busy doing other things (like serving coffee). A sign saying "for customers only" is easy to ignore.

The uncomfortable unspoken subtext is that this is an especially difficult issue in San Francisco, Good2Go's launch city, which has a large population of street people. Fairly or not, most businesses perceive the homeless as making their customers uncomfortable and see to limit their access. Businesses that put their restrooms on Good2Go have the option of donating their revenue-share to Lava Mae, a California charity that helps homeless people access hygiene services, "and many have chosen to do so," says Heller.

Published on: Sep 21, 2017