Elevator Pitch: Sleeping Duck

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Winston Wijeyeratne and Selvam Sinnappan from Sleeping Duck.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

We realised the mattress industry was flawed so we set out to offer a better solution. We started Sleeping Duck to help people get the best possible sleep by taking the confusion and hassle out of buying a mattress. We do this in two ways. Firstly, we have engineered one seriously comfortable mattress that we retail directly to customers through our online store. Secondly, we offer a no-pressure, no-risk service by allowing all our customers to try the mattress for a full 60 nights. If they are unhappy with it, we will pick it up free of charge for a full refund or give them a free firmness swap.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We have grown our business on the back of word of mouth referrals from our customers. This has been intentional for us. Our goal is to ensure that each and every customer gets the best possible sleeping experience (whether it be with our product or not). Where the customer is getting a great night's rest, awesome. Where the customer isn't sleeping well on our product, money back. We look at this as a cost of marketing. We strive to provide efficient and personalised experiences, and our customers have really responded well to this.

We have bootstrapped our business since the start and will continue to do so. We currently don't have any plans for external finance.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Most people would never think about buying mattresses online. The lack of innovation in the industry has ingrained the 15 minute in-store test as the only way to buy a mattress. We need to convince people there is a better way.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

Our major competitors are the big brick and mortar retailers. We differentiate ourselves by providing:

1. Simplicity: Instead of having to choose between dozens of similar mattresses like you would in a store, we sell one mattress (with multiple firmness choices) which will help you get to sleep, stay asleep and awake pain free.

2. Guaranteed sleep: Where you would have to commit to a mattress after a 15 minute test, we ask that you sleep on ours for a full 60 nights before making a commitment. If you don't love it, you can return it for a full refund or swap it for a different firmness, no questions asked.

3.Affordability: In an industry that suffers from inflated prices, we can charge a fair price as we design, manufacture and retail the mattresses ourselves.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Google Apps. We have run our business primarily on Google Apps. As we grow we will transition away to a few of the more scalable systems. But it has been amazing to help get us get to where we are now.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

The law of contraction: A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus (The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Al & Laura Ries). A highly recommended read!

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