- Tyler Peh And Jon Lim set up their mattress company in late 2017, selling only one design meant to be the best fit for all.
- Woosa Sleep sells online, and gives customers a 100-night free trial to test their mattresses at home.
- The founders grossed half a million in revenue in their first year, and only 10% of customers send mattresses back.
“We definitely never thought we would be selling mattresses,” say Tyler Peh and Jon Lim, close friends since secondary school.
But here they are today, 29 years-old and co-founders of Woosa Sleep.
Before this, Tyler had a sales career in real estate, while Jon helped out with his family’s automotive business.
The unexpected switch came after they’d been working for three and a half years—but it was no source of inspiration that pushed them to start their own business.
Instead, they were frustrated into motion by a bad experience as mattress buyers themselves when they remodelled their homes.
For them, the overwhelming options, pushy salespeople tapping away on their calculators, and having to lie down awkwardly in public, were far from an ideal environment to make sound decisions.
So with their own brand, they’re ditching everything you know about the traditional mattress industry.
Woosa Sleep only sells online, and manufactures just one design—and in doing so, they raked in over “half a million in revenue” in their first year.
No Choices, No Pressure?
Young businesses that boldly go with just one stock keeping unit (SKU) are becoming more common these days.
Last month, we interviewed a pair of siblings who are doing the same by just selling one product in the eyewear industry.
For Woosa, Tyler says they started making mattresses with the unpopular idea that “a universal level of comfort does exist”.
“We did some preliminary market research on mattress preferences and buying behaviour, and found that Singaporeans tend to gravitate towards the same level of medium-firm comfort.”
Not too hard, not too bouncy, and not so soft that you sink in with trouble getting up. Perhaps Singaporeans choose mattresses based on the same principle as Goldilocks?
If that’s true, Woosa’s founders want to eliminate an “illusion of choice” that confuses customers on their hunt for the best mattress.
The friends hope to spare people from going through the high-pressure buying experience, coupled with regrets, that they had.
“I [ended up paying] $4,000 for my mattress from a major brand, that I barely tested, just because [the salesman was pushing] a free branded vacuum cleaner for one day only,” Tyler says.
Not only did it give me backaches, it also made me question the true cost—was I paying for the mattress, the salesman’s commission, or the branded vacuum cleaner?
All Over The World In Search For The Best Materials
Starting early 2016, they spent “close to two years” and invested a six-figure sum from their savings to conduct research and testing, before Woosa was officially born in November 2017.
They started off sourcing close to home at first, making samples from places like Malaysia, Batam and China.
“It was simple, economical and gave us great margins,” Tyler says, “but the quality of materials just couldn’t meet our expectations.”
Their search took them further, ending up in Belgium, home to manufacturers that produce for famous, high-end mattress companies.
“It took many rounds of convincing before they agreed to work with us, [but once they did], it opened the doors to other ultra-premium foam and fabric manufacturers in the region,” he says.
Tyler and Jon would then send their new prototypes home and call on friends and family to test them out.
Later, friends invited their own friends, and their pool of testers “grew exponentially”, helping them suss out the tweaks needed to get the best balance.
We had to make sure each material is efficiently utilised to keep costs low—no excessive materials or layers—each component is just where it should be.
In my chat with the founders, I also learned a fun fact that their brand’s name comes from an expression in western pop culture, ‘woosa’ or ‘woosah’, that people say to calm themselves down, or indicate they’re in a state of relaxation.
Sprawl Out In The Comfort Of Your Home, Not The Store
But why sell online, when mattresses require customers to test them in person to know if they really make you feel ‘woosa’?
Tyler explains that they have a number of reasons, and ways to get around the customer experience.
He says by keeping the business online, they do away with third party retailers, showrooms, hiring salespeople and giving them a commission—and along with that they shed a bulk of costs.
Woosa’s mattresses are priced between $1,199 to $1,699 from single to king sized, and the founders are confident to give their buyers a 100-night free trial, during which they can return the mattress if they’re not satisfied.
Even their storage and shipping costs are significantly brought down, because of the way they vacuum roll their mattresses and make them super compact.
With their focus on social media marketing, Woosa engaged various popular personalities, like the husband and wife duo of Tree Potatoes, Aaron Khoo and Janice Chiang, who demonstrated how to unpack their mattress.
Other popular influencers have also tried and endorsed Woosa’s products, including Mongchin Yeoh, Elaine Ruimin, and Novita Lam.
90% Satisfied Customers Is “Good Enough”
Since they’re confident to let people return their mattresses in 100 days, we wanted to know how often this really happens.
“So far, we’ve only had about 10% of returns, which is well within our expectations,” Tyler says.
We acknowledge that it is impossible to satisfy 100% of the population, but if 85-90% of our customers say they love it, it’s good enough for us to know that we’re making a difference in the way Singaporeans sleep.
When customers request for a refund, the team arranges a time to pick it up (as it can’t be recompressed), and sometimes these unwanted mattresses are donated to charity.
Tyler also says they speak to each of these customers directly to learn why they weren’t satisfied.
“At the moment, feedback is quite evenly split from customers who return [our mattresses]. Some find it too soft, while some find it too hard,” he says.
Undaunted by these minor setbacks, they try to find out as much as possible about customers’ experiences as it eventually brings them closer to their goal of making a good night’s rest “simple and easily accessible”.
After their one-fits-all mattress, Woosa has grown to add pillows to their online store, and looks forward to creating a wider range of products to help Singaporeans sleep better.
Featured Image Credit: Woosa Sleep