With food and product-delivery services such as SkipTheDishes and Amazon cornering the market how society browses, orders and receives what they want (and when they want it), increased disruption of the traditional consumerist status-quo seems to be the new normal — a testament to the tech-heavy times of our burgeoning digital culture.
However, one company, Endy, has set their sights on an even more integral system to disrupt — how we sleep.
The Canadian-based company, founded in 2015 and known for their “mattress-in-a-box” system that involves rolling and compressing beds which are then delivered right to a consumer’s door, is already experiencing whirlwind success, further bolstered by a spot on CBC's Dragon's Den, and their oddball-marketing kick that involved providing free Canadian-themed tattoos on Canada Day.
But for 35-year-old CEO Mike Gettis, who started the company with partner Rajen Ruparell, disruption was not the plan when he first decided to re-work the mattress.
“For me, personally, the big thing was just that I love sleeping,” says Gettis, laughing.
“I love the idea of consumer products, and making something that makes people happy and [they] enjoy it… I originally worked in Calgary in oil and gas, and when I went for my Master’s degree, I went to Europe and worked for a company that sold mattresses.”
It was during his time in Europe that Gettis first became fixated on improving the centuries-old product, ultimately bringing what he learned back to Canada. With the implementation of new compression technology, the idea to provide an online-delivery service for something that was once cumbersome to purchase began to take hold.
“It’s one of those things where if I hadn’t gone to Europe, and I didn’t take a job somewhere that sold mattresses, I probably wouldn’t have even thought of it,” Gettis explains.
The research and development phase featured Gettis having to “sleep on a bunch of different prototypes” before deciding on price-points and plans on how to sell the mattress.
For the former, the result became the mantra “everything under a thousand [dollars],” with direct-service that cut out the need for retail stores, wholesalers and distributors. The company currently operates with only 26 full-time staff, with plans to hire another 10.
But it’s the means of ordering and receiving the mattress that varies from the traditional “big-box” stores. Sold solely through their website, each mattress is rolled and compressed, then mailed directly to the purchaser, who simply unrolls it to set it up.
Gettis describes it as “sort-of like opening up a present,” and a similarity can be drawn between receiving new Endy mattresses and increasingly-popular subscription boxes.
Prices vary from $675 for a twin-sized mattress, to $950 for a “California” king-sized, significantly cheaper than traditional mattresses and boxsprings which can run upwards of thousands of dollars depending on the brand.
“Even as we’ve gotten a little bit of notoriety, and more people know the brand, it’s still key to focus that we stay on top of everything,” says Gettis. This includes using digital marketing platforms like Snapchat and Facebook to promote their online-only business.
Similarly, Gettis, who has spoken widely about disruptive innovation in markets, notes that while disruption isn’t an inherently millennial facet, it is a sign of the times.
“I think that disruption is a bit of a byproduct of the online world in general. Industries that weren’t accessible to people are now becoming accessible,” explains Gettis. “Back in the day, you had to set up a retail store and have a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign on TV, and that was how you could get a business going. So, to disrupt you’d still have to be kind of a player. Nowadays, you can get going from your laptop.”
By integrating newer trends and technologies into their business model, Endy has been able to move into a market dominated by big names like Sealy and Serta — and they’ve managed to do it even though they only ship in Canada.
Gettis likens the embrace of newly-available means of reaching potential mattress buyers to the effect the printing press had on the mass-reproduction and distribution of literature in the 15th century.
“Before that, if you were trying to produce Bibles, you would have had to have a lot of monks copying out stuff to be able to get distribution for your ideas, and to be fair, a lot of those religions who had the most monks were the ones that got the most notoriety,” explains Gettis.
“But nowadays, it’s like Facebook has sort-of become a new version of the printing press, and social media and whatnot … the channel itself is not the thing that’s driving the disruption, it’s just the ability of being able to communicate to all these different people.”
“That’s been a big thing with us, using these tools as a sort of way to really connect with people, and get our message out there.”
Another way Endy is connecting with Canadians is through their partnership with Furniture Bank, which features the company providing mattresses for “families transitioning out of homelessness or displacement.”
As for inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs, Gettis explains that it isn’t always a “bed of roses,” but the main key to success is finding something that captures your interest.
“When it really is something you like, it’s kind of like a moth to a flame, and you don't really feel like it’s work anymore — you’re just like I need to do this.”
For Endy and Gettis, the flame is one thing: Helping Canadians sleep better.
- By Alec Warkentin