Jul 9, 2024 5 min read

My Journey Founding Nappr

And helping travelers get short-term rest on the go

Founding Nappr

For many people on-the-go or facing a long, hectic travel day, getting some quality rest and relaxation in the middle of the chaos is a difficult hurdle. And we can all certainly relate to this. There’s the long, jet-lagged layover with only a stiff chair to slouch on.

The red-eye that arrives hours before we’re able to check into our hotel. The long road trips with the AC cranked up to keep us awake. Or maybe it’s the early Airbnb checkout time that leaves us stranded with all our luggage in a city that awaits to be explored more.

Faced with an absence of sleep and/or some other struggle, many of us turn to coffee or energy drinks as our heralded savior to power through, and why not? It’s cheap, it’s readily available, and it packs a punch that makes us extra alert in the short term.

It’s also relatively safe to use in moderation. However, while chugging your favorite cup of Joe might seem like a good idea in theory, caffeine can never truly replace lost sleep, and its effects are limited on a particularly tired brain (say, on 5 hours of sleep or less). It’s also pretty addictive if you drink enough of it, and can often lead to a pretty ugly crash later in the day.

Alternatively, you could pay for a whole day at a hotel to help fill in the gaps of your day, but that’s obviously not economically feasible for most of us. Who wants to pay for an entire day’s rate when you only need the room for a few hours?

As an avid traveler who has dealt with a lifetime of sleep issues, I found myself in this predicament often. And I almost always compensated with Red Bulls and 5-Hour Energy drinks.

The immediate effects from the jolts were nice, but was I ever feeling great at the end of the day? Not really. And did it make my trip that much better? Eh. After a while, I realized that this solution was less than ideal and unsustainable for me in the long run. What my brain really wanted was more sleep and less caffeine, and in essence, a midday power nap.

And this led me to my next question:

What if I could create something that allowed people to get some quality rest on the go, whenever and wherever they wanted to, in a comfortable bed nearby?

I slept on this (pun intended) and started doing a lot of research on sleep and the benefits of napping, and then I hit the ground running. In November of 2014, I officially incorporated Forty Winks LLC in the state of New York, and the foundation for Nappr was born.

At first, I experimented with a brick and mortar idea. Maybe, I thought, we could have a gym but for resting instead of working out, where people could take naps on an as-needed basis. We’d have different membership tiers, actual beds, and comfy items like sleep masks and white noise machines to help anyone recharge quickly and effectively. I even had a great name picked out - “Siesta Nap Shop”. We’d expand to anywhere and everywhere, and it would be glorious.

I convinced a couple of colleagues to join me on this endeavor, and we proceeded to hold secret meetings in one of our conference rooms to brainstorm how we’d actually get this thing off the ground. Somewhere along the way, one of our advisors pointed out that while this idea was great, it was also both: a) capital intensive, and b) not really that scalable, and she wasn’t wrong.

Instead, she suggested that my team and I focus on a marketplace model - similar to what Airbnb was doing at the time - where we could leverage other peoples’ homes and apartments and provide the means for them to interact, transact for day use, and then rate each other afterwards.

I liked her idea a lot and wanted to run with it, but unfortunately my two co-founders saw things differently and decided to leave. It was a great learning lesson for me and a major bummer at the time, but I was committed to this mission and soldiered on by myself.

I quickly found another co-founder and some back-end developers who could build the app for us, trademarked the name “Nappr”, and then chartered a plan for us to launch our beta in early 2020. I wasn’t sure how we’d get hosts to join us or how we’d spread the word, but I’ve always been pretty resourceful and I told myself that I’d figure it out along the way.

We made some great progress on the tech front while I handled the marketing and branding, and everything seemed to be going great! Until…it wasn’t. A couple months later, within weeks of our scheduled launch, the entire world literally shut down for COVID and nobody was traveling anywhere (much less in people’s homes) so that put the kibosh on that idea for the time being.

At this point I was about 6 years into the journey, and despite all the setbacks I was still very much determined to make this work. As an Engineer I naturally like to solve problems and really hate giving up on them, so you could say that being a founder was sort of in my DNA.

My co-founder and I scrapped our launch plans given the pandemic, but we continued on with tech development facing the unknown. We had no idea when  people would be traveling again, but we did know that sleep deprivation rates were higher than ever before and that people needed this.

I cold emailed hundreds of investors, did hundreds of hours of QA testing, photoshopped wireframes, applied to dozens of accelerator programs, and designed pitch decks, financial forecasts, business plans, executive summaries, one-pagers, legal documents and every other startup-related thing under the sun to keep things rolling along.

In the summer of 2022 we were accepted into a 3-month Accelerator program, which really helped us solidify our planning and also led to us finding our newest co-founder and CMO, Daniel (also a big-time world explorer).

With travel picking up again in early 2023 and some good momentum, we re-examined the feasibility of a product launch with the Airbnb-style model and started to prepare our tech for it. If the third time was the charm, it would sure be a heck of a good time for it.

A few weeks before our newest launch attempt, we caught a really big break - maybe our biggest one to date. A founder of a daytime hotel marketplace saw a post of mine on a message board and offered to help us, so we got on a few phone calls with his team to brainstorm.

Hotels had never really crossed my mind before, especially for naps, but given how convenient, comfortable and reliable they are, it totally made sense. We eventually agreed on a revenue sharing partnership and leveraged their inventory on our website, and Nappr finally launched our service with 10 daytime hotels in New York City in July 2023.

Today, Nappr offers heavily discounted 4 to 10-hour rates at over 1,000 hotels in 27 countries, and the dream continues on! Many of our properties are located in dense metro areas and airports so it’s great for the tired traveler on the go, no matter where you are on your journey. And with tons of brands like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, and many boutiques to choose from, there’s a wide mix of properties for travelers near and far.

The next time you need some rest in the middle of a crazy journey, please check us out! And afterwards, let me know how it went. We always love to hear about a great travel snooze. 😴

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