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Helping Essential Workers Stay Well-Rested

San Diego-based Hohm Inc., a startup that develops custom engineered sound-blocking sleep pods, is deploying its solution in corporate offices, educational institutions, airports and most recently — hospitals and healthcare organizations.

The company manufactures big steel pods sectioned into 45 square-foot bedrooms. Hohm sleeping pods — think freestanding boxes with beds — offer a comfortable, secure and private spot for resting at work.

Founded in 2018, Hohm was first introduced at the University of Arizona, has since expanded to several universities such as Emporia State University in Kansas, primarily focused on sleepy students and teachers.

Selling Sleeping Pods

“Our goal with HOHM is to ultimately create a network of sleeping units across the US, that is essential, wherever you are, and that are bookable via our mobile app,” said Nikolas Woods, founder and CEO of Hohm. “All placements have a personal attendant present to check you in and out, clean after each use, change sheets, ensure single occupancy, and answer any questions.”

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Hohm lets users reserve its pods for 30 minutes to four hours, for about $12 per hour. It has one attendant for every four pods, to help ensure booking goes smoothly, clean the pods and make sure only one person uses them at a time. 

Each room is soundproof and private, said Woods. Inside, the rooms are furnished with a twin bed, a charging station for phones and other devices, and a mirror. Unlike the futuristic recliners used at tech firms like Google and Facebook, Hohm’s pods are like a mini-room.

“You don’t feel like you’re going inside a box,” said Woods. “It’s more like a second bedroom.”

Companies such as MetroNaps and Sleepbox make a similar product, but Woods believes Hohm will become the leading brand in this category.

Launched Pilot Program

A number of leading organizations were interested in providing safe and affordable short-term sleeping options, said Woods. However, those conversations temporarily stalled when the pandemic took hold in March, prompting the startup to find clients elsewhere.

“We were in advancing talks with several major locations, from well-known universities to Fortune 500 corporations, and even music festivals. Then COVID hit, we started looking at hospitals and reached out to over 150 different hospitals,” said Woods.

In October 2020, HOHM partnered with University Hospitals (UH) in a pilot program to provide its staff access to our sleep pods. Woods said the partnership has sparked increased interest from other hospitals across the U.S. due to the demands on staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Definitely there is a need in this space for something like this,” he said.

Expanding to Hospitals Nationwide

University Hospitals, a northeast Ohio health system, comprises of 18 hospitals, more than 50 outpatient health centers and over 200 physician offices. UH was the first hospital in the country to provide this service.

The pods can be used by any UH employee at no cost. Reservations, from 30 minutes to four hours, can be booked on a tablet attached to the sleeping pod.

“Our UH Cleveland Medical Center Emergency Department frontline caregivers have been working tirelessly for months to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Robyn Strosaker, chief operating officer at University Hospital’s Cleveland Medical Center. 

“In the midst of all this trauma and stress, we’ve continuously looked for new ways to support our team, and HOHM sleep pods are a way we can help address their wellbeing,” he added.

The pilot program at UH is slated to last 10 months. HOHM plans to expand its sleeping pod placements to additional hospitals in the coming months and will also continue to serve corporate offices and educational institutions.

Looking forward, the goal is to have Hohm sleep pods in three hospitals nationwide by the second quarter this year, and expand into roughly 20 by 2021.

A serial entrepreneur, Woods sold his last company Lightbox Medical in 2015. The startup works out of Cross Campus San Diego, a co-working space in Little Italy. It employs six local staffers. In total, HOHM has raised $650,000 in startup capital from angel investors. By the second half of this year, the company aims to raise a $2 million seed round.

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