KABIR SIDDIQ, Founder & CEO, SleepyCat, talks of his journey from investment banker to entrepreneur, adopting the ‘factory-to-consumer’ route for his ‘mattress-in-a box’ company and future plans to expand design and logistics capability
Please take us through your journey from investment banker to entrepreneur, and some experiences from it, that led to setting up your ‘mattress-in-a box’ company SleepyCat.
Passing out of college back in the day, everyone around me was looking to pursue a career in Finance and Banking. I followed the crowd and went to Mumbai to interview with a few institutions. I spent a major chunk of my time there with Deutsche Bank in the Investment Banking division. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my stint there, I always wanted to take the entrepreneurial route, and build something meaningful. My idea was to create, innovate and experiment with new things and it really excited me. The journey of SleepyCat began when I entered the old and unchanged mattress industry. I realized a big gap existed in the market between manufacturing a mattress and eventually delivering it to a consumer. This long chain; mostly distribution, logistics, warehousing, and retail, severely inflated the price of a mattress without reason. In addition, the quality and structure of a mattress being sold at an exorbitant price was nowhere close to being comparable or justified. To add to all of this, mattress shopping was troublesome with so many unnecessary choices. We wanted to simplify this and make the process of mattress-shopping fun and easy while delivering a world-class product through just four simple clicks.
How has your brand’s 'factory-to-consumer' or D2C model of business helped? How far have you been able to simplify the process of mattress buying in India? How has the customer responded to buying a mattress online?
D2C is a disruptive model in the current traditional mattress industry. It changes the way people shop for a product. We make it simple, much cheaper, fun, and all this while providing a great quality product in a box. We eliminate any risk of buying a mattress online by providing a 30-night risk-free trial. Mattress-in-a-box is a simple solution with speedy delivery compared to the otherwise cluttered traditional industry.
How did the brand fare in terms of growth and revenue during the last year-and-a-half of the pandemic? What has been the impact or opportunity for SleepyCat?
While the pandemic did affect the business at the beginning due to delivery being restricted to essential services only, we have actually seen a growth in the months since the lockdown got lifted. There has been a renewed consumer focus on their homes and well-being. We took this opportunity to understand our customers’ needs better and innovate. During this time, we launched adjustable pillows, pet beds that are easy to clean and highly durable, and weighted blankets that reduce anxiety. All of these products ultimately help you get a relaxed sleep. SleepyCat’s cuddle pillow, which also doubles up as a pregnancy body pillow, is a huggable microfibre pillow made from a luxe modal fabric which offers the perfect neutral spine alignment for side sleepers. Our air gel memory foam pillow relieves pressure and provides complete support to the head and neck. The pet beds are easy to maintain, being of velour knitted fabric that is heavy-duty, tear and chew-proof material. Our latest launch, the therapeutic weighted blankets, are made with innovative technology of deep touch pressure, specially designed for restless sleepers to offer a sense of relaxation and stress relief.
Going forward, what are your expansion plans and priorities for the brand? What kind of growth do you target?
We have achieved a great product market fit. This is evident through our Google, Facebook and Amazon rankings. We are now geared to scale up our operations. We plan to expand our design capabilities by building a state-of-the-art design lab, have more warehousing across 6-8 cities for 1-2 day delivery to all Tier I-II cities and maximum 3-4 day delivery anywhere across India. We are looking to launch a lot of exciting products in the last quarter of the year. We are also planning to open up our experience centres by the end of the year.
Personally, how has the lockdown treated you? What has been your lockdown learning?
The biggest challenge of the lockdown is not being able to work with my team physically from the office. The energy and the positivity when you’re working with your team is different. Now, during work hours, I usually shift from room to room at home to find a nook to work from. I have also identified specific times during the day when I am the most productive. Most importantly, I have set a clear demarcation between work and my personal life.
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