Michael Covel talks with Daehee Park and JT Marino. They are the owners and founders of Tuft and Needle, a modern mattress company. They met during college at Penn state, parted ways after college and then met back up in Silicon Valley at a startup tech company. Two young men, who had never worked at a mattress store and were coming straight out of Silicon Valley, hardly fit the mold of mattress company tycoons. When they first started Tuft and Needle, the majority of questions they received all circled around how and why they came to enter the business of mattresses. The answer was quite simple; JT and Daehee started the company based on horrible personal experiences buying mattresses. After their experiences and talking about them together, the two sat down and wrote out all the painful things associated with shopping for a mattress and discussed how they could eliminate those experiences. They came to find out that their wasn’t any “love” or brand loyalty associated with a mattress or the company. This was something they wanted to change. Since they started with zero mattress experience, Michael asks the obvious question, “What was the first step you took once realizing you wanted to be in the mattress business?” The first step was building up the list of negative experiences they had encountered with personally buying a mattress. Second step was trying to figure out, “What is a mattress? What is the science involved? What are the root principles? And working backwards from that.” They ripped open one of their own mattresses and figured out the components. After seeing the makeup of the mattress, they called around to manufacturers to figure out what it would cost to build. Next, Michael asks “What kind of motivation did you have for disrupting the industry?” JT and Daehee only figured out the kind of traction they could gain after about a year. They didn’t know how big of an “old boys club” the mattress industry really was. However, their success has proved that there was definite need for disruption in the industry. The bar was set so low to begin with in the industry that they immediately started disrupting it in all areas: price, technology and service by just by listening to customer feedback. Even with increasing their marketing over the years, the majority of their growth is 70% organic and word of mouth.
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