The benefits of a good sleep are no longer hidden to us. Many vital physiological processes take place during sleep and that is why a good and sound sleep holds the key to good health. Wakefit, a Bangalore-based startup understands this and that is why they have come up with a range of quality mattresses to ensure better sleep for their customers.
Wakefit was launched in 2016 and today, it is one of India’s unique startups that carries out research on sleep and spine support in order to create innovative products. Before designing their mattresses, the company has interviewed thousands of customers to understand the problems they encounter in getting a sound sleep. Their mattresses are , therefore, specifically designed to ensure blissful sleep for their users.
More About Wakefit
Wakefit is a direct-to-consumer brand, i.e., they have no physical presence, and therefore, sells their products only through their website and online marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, and Pepperfry.
Wakefit is the only next-generation mattress brand which is ‘Make in India’, in its true sense. They have their own manufacturing base with premium quality machinery installed. At the same time, they optimally utilize the domestic raw materials, talents, and resources to manufacture high-quality mattresses.
About the Founders and What Inspired Them
Wakefit was co-founded by Ankit Garg and Chaitanya Ramalingegowda. Being in a family that ran a small testing setup, Ankit Garg indulged in discussions of foam formulations and testing during his growing years. After completing his BTech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Roorkee, he worked with Bayer, one of the world’s largest chemicals companies.
However, the entrepreneurial bug bit him soon and he ventured out to establish Wakefit. He quips “Since foam and chemicals were my strong suits, I decided to quit my job and started exploring more in the mattresses space. I realized that there had barely been any innovation at all in this category for many decades.”
Ankit’s interest in this field blossomed during his stint at his family owned chemical lab where they do testing and validation of foams. At Bayer, he worked on finding newer adaptations for foam. Gradually, he started exploring more and eventually unraveled some hidden truths of the mattress industry.
For eg, the foams that are generally used in mattresses are largely adulterated and also that different layers of a mattress are advertised basically to create a premium illusion for customers. This is done mainly to divert customers’ attention. In reality, these have no benefits at all.
Foams are basically manufactured by following a standard process and there’s no rocket science behind it. Therefore, there is no valid reason for peak prices for it, though such inflated prices have over the years triggered the concept of exclusive online sleep solutions company.
Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, on the other hand, has a total of 16 years of experience spanning across a range of fields, right from entrepreneurship, management consulting, to marketing. He has earned his MBA from ISB Hyderabad and also a BE in Computer Science from the National Institute of Engineering.
Before co-founding Wakefit, he was a management consultant in North America working with Fortune 50 & 100 clients. He has worked in larger growth stage startups in product and operations functions.
Ankit and Chaitanya, along with their research team started testing prototypes of the various versions of mattresses available in the market. As mentioned already, they also interviewed thousands of customers. Their customer insight led R&D mechanism helped them to launch one mattress for all body types in early 2016.
What is Unique About Wakefit?
Wakefit’s business model is very simple. Their cutting-edge memory foam technology has been impeccably created on the parameters of pressure and weight distribution. The mattresses come with a 20-year warranty, which is undoubtedly impressive.
With their quality products, Wakefit has challenged the age-old pricing methods of the mattress industry, thereby provoking the industry giants to rethink their market strategy. Another factor that makes Wakefit stands out in the crowd is that they prefer to pass on the benefits to their customers by doing away with the middlemen and going online. The mattresses are shipped to customers’ doorstep right from the warehouse. And on top of it, customers can also avail the risk-free 100 nights trial policy and no cost EMI.
Overall Scenario of the Mattress Industry and the Competition
The current mattress market in India is estimated to be INR 9,000-10,000 crore (approximately) and it is growing at 9% CAGR. So, by 2021, it is expected to be INR 14,000 crore (source: CRISIL report).
Of this market, less than 3% is estimated to be currently online and this number is expected to become about 6-8% of the overall market by 2021. Wakefit is by far the market leader in the online direct-to-consumer sleep solutions space with an estimated 20% of the complete online mattress segment.
In terms of customer behavioral trends, furniture purchases are found to be research-intensive as 80% of shoppers research furniture online before making their purchases. The millennials are most likely to shop on smartphones before, during, and after a store visit. Therefore, furniture category is an attractive new avenue for the online players in the market. Wakefit ventured into this market in order to tap this untapped segment of the industry.
In terms of competition, there are two big giants in the INR 1,000 crore region – Sleepwell and Kurlon. There are also several smaller offline players who have been in existence for 20-40 years. In addition, numerous online brands have sprung up after the initial traction of Wakefit.
Wakefit’s Journey So Far
When Wakefit started its online business of selling mattresses, it was unheard of to buy mattresses online. The prevailing wisdom was that products in this category can only be bought after a touch and feel experience. When the firm was listed on Amazon, there was no separate category at all!
From then on, it has been an exciting journey for Wakefit. Theirs is a journey of educating customers that high-quality and world-class mattresses can be bought online. It entailed hundreds of home visits to understand the usage patterns of customers and iterate on the product to keep evolving towards a higher acceptance rate in the market. The practice of valuing customers and listening to them has enabled the company to grow by leaps and bounds.
Wakefit’s journey has been fascinating with a great learning curve. No doubt, disrupting the old traditional mattress industry norms was a big challenge for the company but it was doable. Understanding the needs of each and every customer, talking to them, and meeting them to understand their needs – all these have enabled Wakefit to manufacture and supply quality products.
At present, Wakefit is a team of 80 people and they aim to grow in the coming months. The company has been profitable since the 2nd month of its inception. They ended the FY2017-18 at an approximate revenue of INR 31 crore (USD 4.6 million).
Since its inception, Wakefit has served over 75,000 customers. The company has sold more than 1.1 lakh products in less than 3 years and is growing at an average of 10 percent MoM. The customer engagement has also been increasing on an average of 10% per month on the web. It receives daily traffic of over 7000-8000 visitors
What are the Strengths of the Company?
Customers’ delight and happiness are the biggest strength of Wakefit. They have built an excellent process to provide a seamless purchase. According to the founders, the other 4 pillars of strength for Wakefit are –
i) 100 nights risk-free trials, with 100% refund
ii) A 20-year warranty
iii) No cost EMI
Iv} Free delivery/shipping to any parts of the country, even to regions having difficult terrains like Leh.
3000+ customer reviews with 4.8-star rating are some of the motivating factors that inspire Wakefit to improve on their methods and techniques.
Wakefit is a bootstrapped firm. The company’s co-founders have invested the initial corpus from their savings and then ploughed in profits to the tune of over INR 1.5 crore (US$ 2,20,000), which was used in building the production and logistics infrastructure. Currently, a number of VC funds are in discussions with them for potential investments.
The Future Plans
The total addressable market for mattresses is expected to grow to over INR 14,000 crore by 2021 as stated above. Further, if the bed linen market is also included, the addressable market size is quite large across India.
In the words of Ankit and Chaitanya, “With an increasing demand and robust growth registered in tier 2 cities (top 25 tier 2 cities), we are planning to focus more on serving and customizing for them. We are humbled to have served customers from Andaman & Nicobar islands to Leh Ladakh. Currently, we are aiming to grow top line and bottom line in FY2018-19 with the introduction of more products.”
RIght now, the Wakefit team feels that they have barely scratched the surface with respect to reaching the breadth and depth of India. The founders of Wakefit are of the opinion that India itself is a vast opportunity and so, it will take a few years for the company to understand and serve it well.
They further added that the company would like to focus on making deliveries more efficient and faster, continue to work on the product to make it even better and introduce newer innovations into it. We wish good luck to the Wakefit team and hope that they will be able to scale newer heights by satisfying their customers with excellent quality products.