It was the winter of 2016. Sandeep, worked as a Venture Capital investor in Florida, funding start-ups and early stage companies. He was also the Chief Operating Officer of an international consumer brand. He grew up in India and had been living in the US for past 10 years.
Sandeep talked to his parents in India regularly, and his mother always shared stories of her maid’s eccentricities or other funny yet annoying issues they faced living in Pune. A few months back, she told Sandeep about the pains of buying a good mattress. She was searching for a mattress similar to Sandeep’s mattress in the US – a plush & comfortable memory foam mattress, good for the back, that didn’t cost lacs. She visited many stores in Pune, was misled by salesmen, and in the end, after spending weeks on the search, bought 2 mattresses. The mattresses were not only super expensive but were of mediocre quality. Sandeep heard similar complaints from other friends and family and realized that the mattress category in India needed work.
Sandeep gathered a team of experts to solve this problem. Sandeep’s old friend Vishal, who loves to sleep, and is a tech expert, joined the team as the Chief Technology Officer. Sandeep’s former colleague, Joe who is a seasoned venture capital investor and retail industry expert, joined the team as the CFO. This team of 3 travelled the world to find the best components and technology to make the perfect mattress for India. And Wink & Nod was born. The trio chose the name Wink & Nod because it is a playful phrase based on catching “winks” (sleep) and nodding off to dreamland. Wink & Nod’s vision is to bring a breath of freshness to the sleepy Indian mattress industry. To build top of the line products, that are good for your health and well-being, and are good value for your money.
To achieve the vision, the W&N team had to re-think the mattress business model. They decided to eliminate the traditional brick and mortar store model and focus on online sales. Instead of salesmen misleading you to mattresses, they have built a website which showcases their mattress inside-out. You can literally see and read about all the layers of the mattress and certifications. Partnerships with local gyms and malls are in works, for pop up stores – Sandeep mentioned that “it’s necessary in the early stages of an online brand for people to touch and feel the product”.
“Wink & Nod offers a revolutionary Gelato® cool gel layer to ensure consistent comfort throughout your sleep cycle and in all weather conditions. Our mattresses are on the firmer side (7-8 on a scale from 1 [softest] – 10 [firmest]). We use our patented Gelato® cool gel memory foam and support layers for optimal spine alignment and comfort. The feeling is “just right” with a conforming feeling without the traditional “sinking” feeling of other memory foam mattresses.” Says Joe.
And what’s more, mattresses are delivered free, have a 100-night risk free return policy and a 10-years’ warranty. The Wink & Nod team also optimized the entire supply chain to make sure that costs were low, so they could transfer the benefits to the consumer.
The company is also socially responsible and are partnering with local charities to donate sleep supplies to those affected by poverty or natural disaster. “We have mastered the science of sleep and the art of dreaming.” Added Joe.
Wink & Nod’s mattress is designed in India and they source the highest industry standard certified materials and have official certifications from CertiPUR-US (foam certification) and OEKO-TEX® (fabric certification). Their innovative design offers 6 layers: soft bamboo fabric top layer, Wink & Nod Gelato® cool gel memory foam, memory foam, HD PU foam, and a non-slip base layer to ensure optimal support and temperature control.
On asking about the biggest issues in running such kind of a business, Joe said “Financing and managing inventory levels of a rapidly growing business can be difficult. Fortunately, we have done so successfully with KYBOE! my other business that we now sell in over 30 countries.”
A tip from Sandeep and Joe for upcoming start-ups: “We have reviewed thousands of start-ups across the course of our venture capital and private equity careers. The simplest advice that we can give would be to listen more than you talk. Learn from the mistakes of others and learn as much as you can as often as you can about your business, competitors, and the overall market. And don’t be afraid of taking risks!”
For any queries or assistance, you may contact ‘Wink & Nod’ at:
Mobile: +91 9371068481
Location: Pune, Maharashtra, India
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