Airpnp Just May Save You
A local app has you covered when you’re on the go and have to go this Carnival season.
When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, and it is not always at the most convenient times and places.
New Orleans native Travis Laurendine has taken this unfortunate reality and capitalized on it by co-founding – along with Max Gaudin and Brian Berlin – an app called Airpnp.
In response to the ban on private portable toilets on public property that went into effect just prior to Carnival season in January 2014, Laurendine partnered with Gaudin and Berlin and together they launched a website called Airpnp in one weekend. The first bathroom listed was at Gaudin’s office at local company Launch Pad.
The website quickly became a free app that now allows users to quickly find a private restroom no matter where they are – think popular accommodation rental site, Airbnb, but for bathrooms. About 100 toilets are currently listed in New Orleans, with the main concentration of them being along the St. Charles Avenue parade route.
Owners of homes and businesses can list their facility on Airpnp. Some listings include photos, others detailed features, even down to what kind of soap will be offered. Users then get an interactive map detailing the options within their area. Some restrooms are free, but the majority charge a fee, usually between $1 and $10.
Though created in New Orleans, the app works in a variety of locations around the globe, with toilets listed on every continent.
“Belgium is our most popular country, and Antwerp is our most popular city, we still don’t know why,” Laurendine says. “Antwerp has 300-something bathrooms, and they are actually being used.”
From the outset, Airpnp was generating money through ad sales and charging a small percentage from each facilitated interaction.
“The business was profitable from the very beginning, when we had a couple of people buy ads,” says Laurendine. “All of our costs were covered, and we weren’t having to invest money in it. It was paying for itself.”
Bouncing off the website’s success, Airpnp switched to an app platform within months. It now serves a purpose beyond public events: People in transit, particularly in Europe, are high users of the app.
“They create a daily routine with people on their walk to the bus stop or train station,” Laurendine explains.
With its re-launch in the New Orleans market this Carnival season, Airpnp has quickly become a useful tool. It solves a long-running issue for parade-goers, who often are forced to either hold it or risk being caught urinating in public, which is illegal.
“Having our police actually worrying about controlling violence and the things that are important and not having people peeing on things, it makes New Orleans a better place to be,” says Laurendine. “I am just happy to be in a situation where something that started as a joke ended up making New Orleans a better place.”