Tuft & Needle - Product Stars
Best products of June 2018

Tuft & Needle

Sleep on an honestly crafted bed at a fair price

Upvotes 67 PH Page >
Daehee Park
Hunter
I'm one of the founders at Tuft & Needle, AMA
Nathan Bashaw
Thanks for posting, and welcome, @daehee! We had a really fascinating discussion about how you went from a regular tech worker to starting a really different kind of mattress company that is now #1 ranked on Amazon. Could you tell your story to the PH community?
Zack Shapiro
Daehee, the site and the product look great! Bookmarking for the next time we need a bed!
Zack Shapiro
I guess that brings up a question: You buy beds so infrequently, how do you guys think about staying top of mind. The way I think about buying a bed looks like this: 1) I don't think about it for 5+ years 2) I go to a mattress store and buy one in 1-3 days of shopping (usually 1)
Daehee Park
Hunter
Thanks @nbashaw and I'm excited to participate in the PH community. My co-founder JT and I were working together at a startup in Palo Alto. We decided to leave our jobs to start a company together. We sought out a stagnant industry to disrupt and saw ripe opportunity in mattresses where there seemed to be a lot of mediocrity and greed. So we launched with a MVP — a simple product and landing page to test the idea. Our v1 bed was an all-cotton tufted mattress, which frankly had a bunch of issues. We then quickly iterated from there and addressed all our customer feedback to reach a high customer satisfaction score. We plan on doing an in-depth background blog post in addition to following on specific questions. Feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer.
Daehee Park
Hunter
@ZackShapiro you're spot on about the buying lifecycle for a mattress. There's the natural strategy of expanding to other product lines that are refreshed more frequently, and this is definitely something we want to do. The reason we offer just the bed right now is so that we can get it right before we move on to other things.
Derek Shanahan
I love these types of products, and think more should find their way to PH. @daehee How do you figure out how to make a physical product like this at first? Where'd you build, find material, find people who know HOW to make a bed?
Derek Shanahan
Also, how much capital did it take to get a prototype out the door, and then a first real run? Did you take pre-orders? Are you profitable and if so, how long did that take?
Daehee Park
Hunter
@dshan We didn't come from the mattress industry so we had to pretty much start with a blank slate. It began with a bunch of phone calls and attending industry trade shows. It wasn't easy convincing the suppliers to collaborate with us. We were not only completely new to the industry but also relatively young in an industry where most people are 40+. But what worked well was sharing a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish and approaching it in a humble way where we were looking for their help. This led us to not only finding honest partners to supply us with good ingredients but also experienced talent to help us design the product and set up operations. My co-founder and I bootstrapped the company with only 3-4 months of runway of our personal savings. Fortunately we were able to become profitable by month two. We were able to stay lean and continue to do so by minimizing the carrying cost of inventory. We make everything to order as they come in.
Ben Yoskovitz
Warby Parker for Mattresses. That was my idea! :) Buying a mattress is a ridiculous experience. Some high-end mattresses really are very nice and comfortable, but the cost doesn't make sense. I think people rationalize the cost (and vendors get away with it) *because* we don't buy mattresses often. In your head as a buyer you can amortize the cost across the # of years you figure you'll have the mattress. But it takes some mental gymnastics and it's irritating.
John-Thomas Marino
@byosko you're definitely right about that. The epiphany we had actually took place while Daehee and I were walking on a lunch break downtown Palo Alto. I was raging about having just bought a $3,000 mattress and it not being as comfortable as I had hoped for. We ended doing some research and discovering that it had only cost a few hundred dollars to manufacture.
Ben Yoskovitz
Do you have plans to put it into retail stores sooner rather than later? Curious about the # of people that don't buy b/c they can't try it... Brand has to be really strong beforehand though, otherwise people will just see it as a "cheap mattress".
John-Thomas Marino
We figure probably 90%+ will not buy it without seeing it first. We definitely need to grow more before we move offline but it's something we really want to do. Whether that is in other retail stores or our own stores I'm not really sure yet. You make a great point about being perceived as "cheap" too. That's something we were a little concerned about when we cut the margins down. We hope to combat that by educating the public how much mattresses really cost to make so they understand that just because it's a low price, it isn't cheap. I will say that there are junk mattresses out there that are around our pricing though. It's going to be a challenge to not be associated or grouped with them.
Ryan Hoover
Continuing to hear good things about Tuft & Needle. Recode wrote a positive piece yesterday: http://recode.net/2014/03/05/how-a-startup-created-the-no-1-rated-mattress-on-amazon-com/ Great work, @johnmarino & @daehee!
Daehee Park
Hunter
Thanks @rrhoover and the ProductHunt community. Very grateful for all your support and feedback.
John-Thomas Marino
@rrhoover thank you! Your support means a lot to us.

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  • "Tuft and Needle is set to do to the mattress business what Warby Parker did for eyewear."

  • "...standing amid a sea of mattresses, trying to distinguish one from another, is a different proposition altogether."

  • "In its first two years in business, the mattress startup Tuft & Needle has done pretty damn well for itself."