This IIM-Calcutta alumni couple teamed up with an ex-DRDO scientist to create a revolutionary SmartGRID mattress with the aim of offering customers a good night’s sleep that uses science and ergonomics. While they tap the urban and tier2-3 cities, they are changing the face of the Indian manufacturing market.
Indians are undoubtedly hardworking, but are they resting enough? According to a sleep-focused study conducted by Fitbit between August 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019, India is the second most sleep-deprived country with an average night sleep of 7 hours and 1 minute, second only to Japan.
With such less hours to revive body and mind, Indians should at least get a comfortable mattress when they eventually lie down.
The Sleep Company, which was founded in 2019, has used technology and science to create a SmartGRID mattress that aims to offer customers the best sleeping experience. The startup recently released its first-ever brand campaign ‘#GoSmartGrid with AK‘ featuring their official brand ambassador, superstar Anil Kapoor.
However, imperative as sleep mattresses are to Indians, where does the market stand when it comes to manufacturing daily use products? The Indian market has traditionally been dominated by unbranded products, solely due to their lower price points.
The Tech Panda spoke to Priyanka Salot, Co-founder of The Sleep Company, who says the position of this market has been slowly but steadily changing in the last few years as more and more players enter the organised marketplace.
Given the demand for ergonomically designed and comfortable mattresses, we can safely predict healthy growth in the coming few years. We see more companies investing in research and focusing on developing comfort technology
Corresponding to this increasing competition, there is also a clear consumer shift towards more premium and quality products that are at par with the best in the world, especially in urban pockets. This is the market The Sleep Company is tapping.
“Today’s consumer is smart, savvy, and willing to spend on products that offer value for money, especially when it comes to their health. For these consumers, ergonomic mattresses are not a luxury, but a necessity in leading a healthy life. They are looking for products that are well-designed, durable, comfortable, and offer a long-term investment in their health,” she says.
“As per a Fitbit survey, India is the second-most sleep-deprived country. This affects not only our overall health but also our productivity. The Sleep Company is a digitally native comfort technology company that aims to transform the way people sleep and sit. We offer premium comfort solutions that aim to bridge the severe gap of premium sleep solutions in the Indian market,” she says.
Interestingly, this demand is not confined to just big urban centres. Salot informs that their company is witnessing increasing demand from tier 2-3 cities as well as metros, with 65% of their revenue coming from the top 35 cities in the country.
“Given the demand for ergonomically designed and comfortable mattresses, we can safely predict healthy growth in the coming few years. We see more companies investing in research and focusing on developing comfort technology,” she adds.
Challenges of Manufacturing a Tech Based Daily Use Product
Manufacturing a daily use product like a mattress has its challenges, especially one that claims to be technologically advanced.
Given the paucity of such products in the market, we had to start with educating people about our unique technology and the tangible benefits it can offer. So far, we have seen an extremely favourable response as evidenced by our growing sales
“Our biggest challenge has been educating customers on the merits of a tech-based smart mattress. Given the paucity of such products in the market, we had to start with educating people about our unique technology and the tangible benefits it can offer. So far, we have seen an extremely favourable response as evidenced by our growing sales,” says Salot.
As a new entrant in the highly competitive mattress market, distribution and marketing were the other challenges.
“Fortunately, we have been able to find a viable alternative by following a D2C model,” she adds.
What They Do
The Sleep Company offers a premium product, based on years of meticulous research. While the technology is based on cutting-edge developments in the field of material science and sleep science, the raw materials are also sourced from Japan to ensure quality and durability.
Made of a super-stretchy polymer, the smart mattress changes its softness according to different body types, weight, or sleeping positions. It is designed to cushion the hips and shoulders, while providing a firm support to the back.
Unlike a memory foam mattress, it does not retain body heat, remaining cool on hot days. The ultra-elastic material ensures that the mattress does not sag and retains its shape longer than any other mattress.
The mattress provides a comfortable sleeping experience and supports the back in a manner that improves sleep posture, reducing the likelihood of developing back pain.
“The Sleep Company mattress has been developed after years of intensive research. Based on cutting-edge sleep and material science, it utilises our patented SmartGRID design, which utilises a specially developed super-stretchy smart gel, arranged in a grid,” explains Salot.
“Other than mattresses, we have also introduced smart sleep accessories, including back cushions, seat cushions, and adjustable pillows to further enhance comfort solutions for our customers,” she adds.
Its features include:
The SmartGRID gives maximum comfort by intelligently responding to all body types and relieving pressure points for a restful night’s sleep. The finest cotton viscose top cover and high build quality give an unrivalled pleasant experience.
The SmartGRID contains approximately 2,500 air channels that remain temperature neutral, keeping the sleeper cool and comfortable. These air channels not only make the mattress soft and bouncy but also ensure that the mattress does not trap body heat like memory foam mattresses.
Soft & Firm
The mattress is made with an innovative hyper-elastic polymer material that retains its shape. It is an intelligently designed SmartGRID mattress that is soft at the hips and shoulders while being firm at the back.
Origin & Inspiration
The company was founded in November 2019 by Salot and her husband, Harshil Salot, both IIM-Calcutta alumni. Harshill worked with Axis Bank and then went on to lead the family business while Priyanka worked for P&G heading brands like Ariel, Tide and Pampers in India.
The road that led them to found The Sleep Company began when Salot, a young mother at the time, found it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, impugning her ability to be at her most efficient during the waking hours. She scoured the market for a mattress that was comfortable, supportive, and durable, but found nothing that went beyond the standard foam and memory foam compositions.
The best mattresses we could find at the time were memory foam, a technology that dated more than four decades ago
“This proved more challenging than we imagined as we realised that the Indian market was lagging years behind other countries. The best mattresses we could find at the time were memory foam, a technology that dated more than four decades ago,” Salot recalls.
She found that not only were there no scientifically backed adequate alternatives that could provide better sleep, but the Indian and Asian markets displayed a substantial dearth in innovations within this space. This prompted Salot to quit her job and begin her quest for the perfect mattress in a market that last saw significant innovation back in the 1960s when memory foam was invented.
“So, I started my research into sleep science, as I travelled to different countries to look at the latest developments and meet with scientists and technicians who were working at the forefront of sleep science,” she reminisces.
Salot traveled across the US to Europe to Japan, to meet scientists and technicians in the field of sleep science. Eventually, her quest led her to meet Dr. Tripathi, an ex-DRDO scientist with over four decades of experience working in material science.
The Sleep Company was founded in 2019 after months of research and product trials, creating the biggest disruption in Asia’s comfort solutions market
In pursuit of the perfect mattress, the husband-wife duo teamed up with Dr. Tripathi and after years of diligent research, trials, and errors, finally cracked the code with the patented SmartGRID technology.
“The Sleep Company was founded in 2019 after months of research and product trials, creating the biggest disruption in Asia’s comfort solutions market,” says Salot proudly.
Being client focused, the company adopted a completely D2C business model, combining the power of the digital marketplace (Amazon and Flipkart) with its own website. Augmenting its discoverability and eliminating inefficiencies in its supply chain, the company has managed to further provide a distinct value proposition to its customers with an accessible premium product.
With this customer-centric approach, the startup’s vision is to become the world’s best comfort technology company, changing the way people sleep and sit. Since their debut, the startup has seen a steady rise in growth and sales, growing 10x during the lockdown.
As a digital-only D2C brand, it’s extremely satisfying to note that we are the highest-rated mattress brand in the digital marketplace with a consistent showing among the top four brands on Amazon
“As a digital-only D2C brand, it’s extremely satisfying to note that we are the highest-rated mattress brand in the digital marketplace with a consistent showing among the top four brands on Amazon,” says Salot.
With a focus on providing 360-degree comfort solutions, the company has recently introduced smart comfort accessories, including seat cushions, back cushions and adjustable pillows, based on its SmartGRID technology. Under other segments, it’s also launching knitted blankets.
“Coupled with our biggest festive season sale during Diwali, we are on track for a INR100 crore run by end-November, which will also mark two years of our inception. Our aim is to cross the INR500 crore mark by 2026,” she shares.
Another sign of their success is the investor interest the company has garnered since its inception. The startup recently raised INR 13.4 crore in pre-series A funding.
“As a team, we are now 100+ strong with more than 20,000 customers. We have also launched our first ad campaign with brand ambassador Anil Kapoor, who first came on board as a customer,” she adds.
The Sleep Company USP
In the Indian market, The Sleep Company’s primary competitors include the likes of Duroflex, Sleepwell, Wakefit, and Sleepyhead. Internationally, their competitors are Sealy, Serta, Casper, and Sleep Innovation.
According to Salot, the company offers two distinct advantages over its competitors, innovative products based on their patented smartGRID tech and their end-to-end comfort solutions.
Where our leading competitors are still offering memory foam or spring mattresses, we offer a product based on highly advanced material science
“Where our leading competitors are still offering memory foam or spring mattresses, we offer a product based on highly advanced material science. Our products are groundbreaking in the field of comfort solutions. The Sleep Company mattresses cradle the body like a cloud while making sure your spine gets adequate support. You get a super-cushy sleep that does not harm your back,” she explains.
The company is also the only one in the Indian mattress industry that offers end-to-end comfort solutions, from manufacturing to final delivery at the customer’s doorstep.
“Our customers can be assured that our products are developed and manufactured in-house. We are a digital-only D2C company,” she adds.
The Sleep Company aims to further expand its grid-based creations beyond mattresses to include a gamut of comfort solutions from pillows to seat cushions and beyond.
“We aim to position The Sleep Company as a 360-degree comfort tech solution provider. We plan to keep up with disruptive creations under a broader range of products within this market, including beds and chairs, particularly workplace seating,” Salot says.
Our vision is to pioneer comfort solutions, based on patented SmartGRID technology and founded on sleep science, across Asian markets like Japan
From a branding perspective, the startup plans to aggressively push the brand awareness activities, taking The Sleep Company to the forefront of the industry.
“We’re on course to take the company to INR100 crore in the next 18-24 months, with a goal to reach INR500 crore in the next four-five years. Ultimately, our vision is to pioneer comfort solutions, based on patented SmartGRID technology and founded on sleep science, across Asian markets like Japan,” she concludes.