Back in 2010, a company by the name of Warby Parker disrupted the eyeglass industry with a novel business model. By designing eyeglasses in-house and selling directly to customers via the Web, they were able to avoid retail markups and sell high-quality prescription glasses for considerably cheaper than most traditional retail outlets.
Tuft & Needle –a new start-up that only launched about two years ago– operates with virtually the same business model, except instead of glasses, the company makes/sells high-end mattresses.
The company got its start back in 2012 when college friends John-Thomas Marino and Daehee Park were briefly reunited after being hired at the same Silicon Valley firm. Shortly thereafter, they both left to launch their own company. “We wanted to take everything we learned tech-wise, in software and business processes, and apply it to something old-fashioned,” Marino said in an interview with Fortune magazine. Eventually, they decided on mattresses after Marino went through quite an ordeal to get a $3,200 memory foam mattress. “It was a terrible experience,” he said.
After a bit of research into the mattress industry, the duo discovered some enlightening information. Most mattresses, they say, typically cost just a couple hundred dollars to produce, but the markups to cover things like overhead, distributor fees, and profits are ridiculously high — sometimes as much as 1,000 percent. “More of your dollars go to pay for the sales commissions, advertising costs, and outrageous profits than the actual ingredients of the product,” the company’s website reads.
It was this revelation that prompted Marino and Park to make something better, and within a few months, Tuft & Needle was born. The company designs and manufactures its own mattresses using a meticulous crafting process and high-quality materials, and uses an online-only, direct-to-consumer sales model to eliminate unfair markups and middleman fees. Mattresses start for just $200 for a twin, and go all the way up to $600 for a king.
We haven’t had a chance to plop down on one of these mattresses and test ’em out ourselves just yet, but user reviews speak loud and clear. Despite the fact that the company only started selling through Amazon this past fall, it already has become the highest ranked mattress retailer on the entire site. Check it out to see for yourself — T&N’s beds have nearly 200 five-star ratings, just over 20 four-star ratings, and only three total ratings lower than that.
Find out more here.