It’s 2pm in a city where you don’t live when an urge to go to the bathroom suddenly peaks. Your hotel is eighteen minutes away in the wrong direction, you’ve already eaten lunch, and you don’t want to spend $4 on a coffee just to use the bathroom. What do you do?

You could dip into a Starbucks or hotel, roll the dice and see if a gas station’s bathroom is palatable, or find a bush in a feat of last resort.

Fortunately, for most of us, this situation isn’t a daily occurrence. Yet, with more than 57 million Americans now taking part in the gig economy (e.g. driving for Lyft or Uber), the bathroom search quandary is increasingly common.

Enter Good2Go, a San Francisco based startup that is working to increase access to restrooms and deliver an improved consumer experience… all from the power of your smartphone. Founded by Fran Heller, Good2Go has a goal of connecting people to the physical spaces they want and need every day, a modern, clean – and most importantly) – a safe alternative to public restrooms.

Available to travelers, parents with toddlers, and consumers (that’s all of us), users in San Francisco can find a location, join a virtual queue, and automatically unlock and open the hands-free automatic door from the app. Every Good2Go location is all-gender, wheelchair-accessible, and equipped with a baby changing station.

It’s an unfortunate reality that restrooms – especially in urban areas – can be hard to find and are often in poor condition, locked, and challenging to access (requiring a key or code to enter). People in major cities are consistently unable to locate and access convenient and quality restrooms; tourists, parents, and drivers face these challenges on a daily basis.

While installing Good2Go’s proprietary hardware may at present a hurdle for partner establishments to join the platform, doing so yields benefits. Foremost, joining would serve as tacit marketing that drives potential patrons to their business. (As more users join the platform the marketing value increases.) Second, partners will earn a revenue stream (likely small at first) as usage increases. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Good2Go equipped bathrooms are often left in better shape than open access bathrooms. (While your bathroom visit won’t be subjected to a five-star rating, users of the app have been shown to treat the bathrooms with a bit more respect.)

The solution being offered goes much farther than a simple wayfinding app that can steer you to the closest available bathroom. By partnering with retailers such as cafes, coffee shops, and grocery stores to make their restrooms available to Good2Go app users, access is no longer restricted to “customers only.” That means that people delivering for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash (and countless other services) will no longer need to sneak into establishments to use a restroom and will be able to spend more time on the road working.

While the offering is currently only available in San Francisco, In every city where they launch, Good2Go works to bring visibility and support to a local non-profit who shares their commitment to providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene for everyone. As a part of their community focus, Good2Go shares proceeds with Lava Mae to increase access to showers and restrooms for those experiencing homelessness in San Francisco.

In doing so, app users are effectively helping some of San Franciso’s most vulnerable population.

As Internet of Things (IoT) technology continues to help to reduce friction, smooth wayfinding, and improve customer and retailer experiences, it’s nice to see a company that’s building IoT tech that can help on multiple levels.  “We have smart city systems that provide lighting, smart garbage cans, we can even use technology to count how many people are using a cross-walk; but you can’t find a restroom,” Heller says.

With plans to expand beyond San Francisco, Good2Go is shaping up to be a winning proposition in the obscure realm of bathroom accessibility.

More info at: https://www.good2go.global

 

Looking for more coverage in tech by Columnist Adam Zuckerman? Check out his latest on how Union Kitchen is reshaping the nation’s food startup landscape.