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 Dany Milham and Mitch Taylor, founders of bed mattress company Koala Mattress.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Koala Mattress tackles consumer pain points associated with purchasing a traditional mattress: lengthy wait periods for delivery, inconvenient delivery times, and exorbitant cost.
Koala has a lean, direct-to-consumer retail model that cuts out the middle man, minimises overheads and keeps our high-quality mattresses affordable.
Koala mattresses are Australian-made and supremely comfortable. Using a unique combination of world-class foams, The K-4 comfort layer in a Koala encourages vertical body weight distribution, supporting the spine as you sleep. Unlike latex or memory foam, K-4 is breathable and open-cell, which is ideal for the warm Aussie climate.
We also offer free 4-hour delivery throughout Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane because our customers have better things to do than wait around for a delivery van to arrive.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Koala’s first round of investment came from Aussie cricket captain, Steve Smith and we have plans to open a second funding round in future.
Over the next year we will expand our product range to include pillows and accessories that complement and complete the Koala sleep experience. We will also reach new customers by launching pop-up ‘treehouse’ showrooms around the country.
Another essential part of Koala’s growth is continuing to grow our organic social media presence. Koala Mattress’ ‘wine glass’ video went viral, receiving over 5 millions views on 9gag, Reddit, Facebook, and YouTube.
This kind of relationship with consumers is invaluable. We aim to become a household name, Australia’s first stop for sleep. Building trust and personal rapport with our customers is crucial to that.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
To date, our biggest challenge has been scaling inventory management, which we now have a handle on.
The business has grown so quickly that we’ve needed to develop a large-scale custom platform and automation procedures earlier than expected as off-the-shelf models just don't work for the volume and complexity of our customer base.
The plus side is that this early development has put Koala in a strong position for future growth.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
The Koala mattress is a completely unique product. During our 12 months of R&D, we slept on countless mattresses (some test runs are still in the garage!) until we found the ideal combination and distribution of foam for a perfect night’s sleep.
Koala is also made significant investment in crafting an unbeatable customer experience We value our customers immeasurably; they have put their trust in our team and we offer customer support through live chat, live tracking, phone and email, to ensure we hear what they have to say and can tailor our customer service accordingly.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Koala currently has offices in Sydney and Byron Bay (and on top of this our contractors and agencies are spread around Australia and the world) so, real time messaging drastically improves group cohesion and coordination.
A business is only ever as healthy as its team so making sure everyone is on the same page and communicating effectively is essential..
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
When you’re doing business, make sure it’s a win-win relationship. Business is all about developing relationships and true success happens when all parties involved see growth, benefit, and improvement.
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