Here we present a guest post on leveraging small-business techniques at Startups.
When a brand sets an entirely new benchmark, you know they’re on to something big. Very big. This is the case with Nolah, an entrepreneurial, technology and cause-driven mattress company spurring a marketplace movement with a distinctive—and decidedly successful—business model that’s resonating in today’s modern, more empowered marketplace. This “sleeper” turned industry pioneer is shaking up industry complacency, single-handedly changing both the way consumers shop for mattresses and the makeup of the merchandise, itself—all disrupting a stagnant and exorbitantly overpriced industry that, as Nolah asserts, “hasn’t seen any real ingenuity the past 40 years but has fleeced consumers with reckless, unmitigated abandon.”
Nolah’s founding team, award-winning serial entrepreneurs and inventors Anna Hjoellund and Daniel Galle, first gained acclaim in Europe for inventing the first-ever washable silk filling for comforters and pillows called SilkFX. Their background in sleep material science, coupled with nearly 20 years of combined experience designing and marketing innovations in the sleep space, has resulted in sleeping products that have helped over 1 million happy customers worldwide rest easy.
In recent years, upon realizing how confusing, inconvenient, expensive and risky the process of buying a mattress can often be for consumers, these impassioned inventors set out to “build a better bed.” And so they did. They knew that, with their leading-edge proprietary materials, engineering methods and overarching expertise within the sleep products industry, and in tandem with their keen understanding of the modern-day consumer mindset, they could develop a foam mattress far superior to any other on the market and avail it to consumers in a far more convenient and cost effective format. And so Nolah was born, ushering in a brazen new breed of science-based, budget-friendly sleep technology solutions that are actually making the world a better place.
Nolah’s newfangled approach for foam mattress provisioning largely utilizes a six-part formula—with each one of the following “pillars” as important as the next in their bespoke business model mix. To inspire and inform other businesses similarly seeking to make waves in their respective industries, below is a breakdown of these six pillars that, in combination, are perpetuating Nolah’s remarkable grassroots success.
Pillar 1: Modernize for a Best-in-Class Solution
Nolah studied materials and approaches used for mattress manufacturing and determined the extent to which both latex and memory foam are outdated materials, entirely inferior to today’s most advanced foam technology. This is a truth not largely known throughout the consumer marketplace, if at all. Being a technology-driven company, Nolah employed leading-edge tech to invent what they proffer to be the industry’s very best all-around foam mattress. After testing hundreds of foam formulations and mattress constructions through science-backed R&D, the company launched its flagship Nolah AirFoam mattress. One primary distinguishing feature of this invention is that it’s fully 100% temperature neutral, since it doesn’t contain heat-sensitive “Viscoelastic” chemicals as every form of memory foam does. Therefore, the Nolah AirFoam solution is certain to sleep cooler than any memory foam mattress counterpart on the market, with or without cooling gel. Performance tests with it also showed four times less peak pressure on the sleeper’s hip and back areas as compared with traditional memory foam mattresses.
While memory foam has gained notable market share in recent years, people are now seeking out solutions like that offered by Nolah because it’s NOT memory foam, which many consumers are having unpleasant issues with. This includes the fact that it sleeps too hot since it’s filled with Viscoelastic chemicals (found in ALL memory foam mattresses) and also that memory foam is prone to sagging over time. Nolah AirFoam solves both of these issues as it contains no heat-sensitive chemicals whatsoever, and it’s also far more durable than memory foam. Nolah’s mattress loses as little as 0.03” inches over time in foam thickness as compared to even ultra-high-end memory foam, which loses 3x times that amount in thickness over time. As for standard, conventional memory foam, that thickness loss increases to a massive 26x higher rate over time. Nolah is filling the void for consumers wanting to avoid spring mattresses but also not wanting a mattress that sleeps hot and ultimately sags to a significant extent.
Another important advantage is that, while Nolah is universally comfortable for all types of sleeping positions, it’s especially well-suited for side sleepers (representing 70% of all sleepers). The Nolah mattress is a 3-layer construction. While it’s slightly softer in the top 2 inches than other online mattresses, it still provides firm back and spine support underneath in the support layer that’s made of Avena foam. Nolah is a 5.5 on the 0-10 firmness scale, and most other online mattresses are around 6.5-7.0, making Nolah a better option for side sleepers in particular.
Pillar 2: Streamline Sales Online While Proffering Substantial Cost-Savings
What was previously an arduous, transactional process is now a streamlined, stress-free online experience. Unlike the traditional, routine practice of buying a mattress that is often confusing and motivated by a sales person and store’s own financial interests, Nolah’s method is markedly less time consuming than conventional mattress procurement—an endeavour that had become unquestionably costly.
For generations, traditional mattress stores had been the only place consumers could shop for a new mattress. But today’s convoluted supply chains have led to a bloated and inefficient business model that overcharges consumers considerably. Instead, Nolah’s business model tackles the inherent limitations of the traditional mattress buying experience, allowing consumers to avoid exorbitant mattress store costs but without sacrificing quality.
Having personally experienced its own mattress prices getting marked up by as much as 3,000% in retail before reaching the consumer, Nolah’s owners, Anna Hjoellund and Daniel Galle, were determined to shift the balance of power back into the hands of everyday consumers. They started selling exclusively online to bypass what they refer to as “the greedy retailers and mattress middlemen” in the process. So, with Nolah, consumers can now easily shop for a technically-advanced foam mattress exclusively online and save as much as 70% in the process, accounting for thousands of dollars in savings as compared to a similar retail store mattress. It’s no surprise that people are increasingly choosing to buy this more advanced mattress online in lieu of alternatives designed with 40-year old technology that are sold by brick-and-mortar retailers rendering astronomical price points, shaking up this decades-old business model in the process.
Pillar 3: Pioneer the Bed-in-a-Box Delivery Model
While it may seem simple on the surface, mattress delivery by-mail represents a seismic shift in the mattress trade, notably disrupting supply chain conventions as one case in point. Beyond the online sales model tipping the balance of power back in the consumer’s favor relative to convenience, quality and price, direct-to-door shipping also provides customers with an array of distinct advantages. Aside from consumers also avoiding delivery fees that can tally hundreds of dollars unto itself, the traditional offline delivery process is often tedious and with much downside. This includes multiple strangers entering a home to hoist an extremely heavy and bulky mattress and/or box spring to the needed location, which can be impeded by small doors, flights of stairs, tight corners, fragile or unmovable décor and furnishings and other points of opposition. And, walls can get inadvertently marked, framing dinged, and carpets soiled in the process.
Rectifying all of these issues and more, Nolah also created innovative mattress packaging that cares for the customers, their homes and the environment. Their mattresses are shipped to the doorstep in an easy-to-handle eco-friendly cardboard box that reduces packaging volume by a whopping 80% as compared to conventional mattress shipping. The mattress is vacuum-compressed and rolled up inside the box in a way that allows it to be easily placed, unfurled and expanded to full size by the customers once in its desired location.
Pillar 4: Establish ‘No-Brainer’ Merchandizing Model
Nolah goes above and beyond to provide consumers with full peace-of-mind as they make a purchasing decision. Throughout the shopping experience, the company stresses benefits like 100% free shipping, free returns and its 15-year warranty whereby any Nolah mattress eligible under the warranty will be replaced or repaired completely free of charge throughout the 15-year warranty period. Nolah also offers a risk-free 120-night home trial period, so consumers can sleep on their new mattress for 4 whole months before making up their minds to keep it or not. If a customer is not fully satisfied, they’ll remove the mattress free of charge and refund the customer in full. These facets of the “no-stress sales” funnel, coupled with access to relevant customer and media-based product reviews and testimonials, helps customers rest assured that they can, well, indeed rest assured.
Pillar 5: Uphold ‘Conscientious Consumerism’ as Mission Critical
For too many businesses, prioritizing the bottom line has come at the cost of our planet’s health and well-being. Wanting to take a more mindful track, Nolah donates 7% of its profits to protecting animal wildlife, their precious natural habitats and the environment overall. For every single Nolah mattress sold, the company adopts an imperilled American wildlife animal through its partnership with Defenders of Wildlife—a national non-profit wildlife charity. With its “One Nolah Sold Equals One Wildlife Adopted” pledge, Nolah is proud to be the undisputed leader in “Conscious Consumerism” within the online mattress industry. With this program, buyers can choose from more than 20 endangered animals like bald eagles, snowy owls and dolphins, and are then sent an official wildlife adoption certificate as proof that their contribution helped protect American wildlife.
While other companies may donate a percentage of their profits to charity, Nolah, embraces this principle and takes things even a step further, providing a unique opportunity for their customers to personally support our planet’s well-being by “voting their values” with their wallet. Nolah has made promoting environmental health a bedrock principle of the company’s guiding philosophy. It’s a glowing example of a business finding innovative and meaningful ways to intertwine business goals with positive social change.
Other ways Nolah protects the environment and supports causes is the fact that mattresses are shipped in eco-friendly boxes that reduce shipping volume and vehicle emissions in kind, and also that all returned mattresses are donated to local charities or recycled through local state programs.
Pillar 6: Lighten Up and Speak Human!
Today’s marketplace needs more than slick slogans and catchy ad campaigns. But many companies struggle to communicate even the most fundamental messages that will differentiate their brands in today’s crowded, confusing and expectation-laden marketplace. With technology making it easier than ever for consumers to block and otherwise avoid advertising and marketing messages as they go about their online and offline lives, companies ubiquitously scramble for solutions—ultimately turning to marketing to help them make and maintain meaningful connections with the marketplace. However, much of that marketing has zero impact as the messaging simply doesn’t resonate. These companies are not simply “speaking human.” Nolah strips down the marketing speak and merely converses with its customer as it would a dear friend, providing facts, information and even product “edutainment” in a friendly way that engages and strikes the right emotional chord—enhancing trust and brand loyalty and ambassadorship in the process. Fundamentally, Nolah wants its customers to not take life too seriously, but rather, get a good night’s sleep, go outside and have an adventure!
This innovative, entrepreneur-driven company has realized the American dream through a mindful mattress brand that’s elevating archaic industry standards. Nolah is making strides in its effort to resolve “greedy” mattress retailing with consumer-optimized pricing and procurement while proffering “sleep with a purpose.”
Guest post by Merilee Kern. As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List International News Syndicate,” she’s a revered consumer product trends expert and travel industry voice of authority who spotlights noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers. Merilee may be reached online at www.TheLuxeList.com.