While everyone calls out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for any and every current issue, Bengaluru-based online sleep solutions startup —Wakefit, founded by Ankit Garg and Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, took it upon themselves to offer him some much needed comfort. Taking PM Modi’s extensive travel and busy schedule into account, the startup launched an online campaign — OneIndiaOneWakefit in 2017, which invited ideas from across the country on how to enhance oneness amongst Indians.
The campaign aimed to show solidarity to the ‘unity in diversity’ concept and was met with an overwhelming response of over 80K reach across the website and social platforms and catalysed more than 500 ideas. The best fifty were sent to the PM with Wakefit’s signature memory foam mattress to help him sleep better. “The campaign was a subliminal attempt at conveying how one mattress can suit every Indian.’’
While the campaign garnered nation-wide interest, it is just one among a panoply of conversations the startup is sparking to help people realise the importance of sleep. Wakefit, both in its ideology and functioning, helps Indians improve their quality of sleep. The startup conducts extensive research on the science of sleep and manufactures a range of products to enhance people’s sleep and posture related needs, such as mattresses, pillows, bed sheets, neck-pillows, comforters, back cushions, etc.
The Changing Sleep Patterns Of Today
Expecting people to change their lifestyles and adhere to the age-old saying ‘early to bed, and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ might be expecting too much in the modern era where sleep patterns are changing drastically.
One look at ‘The Great Indian Sleep Scorecard (GISS) 2018’ by Wakefit, makes one wake up to the realities of shifting sleep patterns in India today.
While the recommended number of hours for a good night’s sleep is 8 hours, GISS 2018 suggests that 31% of the people surveyed get less than 7 hours of sleep per day. The survey also shows that 80% respondents feel sleepy at work 1-3 times a week, and 48% feel they have back problems. This, can be attributed to people going to war against sleep with their army of mobile phones, emails, chat windows and social feeds.
The pace at which our lives function today is only likely to accelerate and in this context, it is important to make the best use of the hours of sleep available to people. To address this need gap, Wakefit was started with the purpose of providing people quality sleep products at affordable prices.
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The company’s understanding of the sleep solutions industry has allowed it to create limited SKUs that includes two mattress types and one composition for all other bedding essentials in its portfolio, while addressing the needs of the customer. This is undertaken by setting up a state-of-the-art production unit in Bengaluru and using the research insights to produce high quality products. The first-mover advantage as an online direct-to-consumer sleep solutions startup is making Wakefit’s dream of evangelising sleep, turn into reality for a billion Indians.
Bringing NASA’s Tech To All & Sundry
In an effort to make the best of technology from across the globe available to the average Indian customer, Wakefit has introduced memory foam — the same material NASA introduced to provide cushioning for both its passengers and pilots — at an economical cost. The durability and comfort of memory foam is enhanced by using temperature measurement and pressure mapping technology. The memory foam mattress also uses a layer of open cell foam, named CoolFit technology, that enables breathability so the body can remain cool even during summers.
“This memory foam technology has helped us in creating our flagship mattress, which is suitable for all body types and is built keeping in mind the optimal distribution of pressure and weight.” says Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, co-founder of Wakefit. “We believe that everyone in India, right from someone who owns an Audi to someone who owns a bicycle should be able to afford a Wakefit mattress,” he added. And the company is surely heading towards achieving that, having clocked in sales of 3.5 lakh products in just three years.
The company is targeting households starting with a monthly income of INR 30K ($422), and is offering high-end memory foam mattresses that were once available between a range of INR 40K to 2L at an affordable range between INR 5.5K to INR 25K.
10 Prototypes, 100 Homes: Wakefit’s Initial Days Focused on Understanding the Customer
Mattress and other sleep products have traditionally been a touch-and-feel category, given the high costs of items and the personal nature of the product usage. Convincing customers that Wakefit is a trusted brand and that they could safely spend their money and be assured of receiving a cutting-edge product was the biggest challenge in the initial days of Wakefit’s journey. “Customers were worried, and rightly so, that the product may be spurious or adulterated or it may not last for long,” says Chaitanya.
Hence, the early days at Wakefit went into trying out six-to-ten different prototypes, visiting over ‘100 customer homes’ and understanding their needs as well as concerns. The startup believes that good things start at home and to abide by this sentiment, they give out mattresses and other products to their own employees for trial and feedback. Ultimately this extensive focus on individuals is what has paid off by allowing the company to generate a daily traffic of over 11,000 on their website, thus facilitating sales.
The website offers a 100-day trial and return policy and a 20 year warranty on its mattresses for customers, along with a no-cost EMI option for all the products in its portfolio.
“A lot of our effort went into educating customers on the science of sleep and how the product has been innovated from the ground up. We have even bundled up mattresses in our cars and gone personally for a delivery. This has resulted in an invaluable learning that gave us a head-start for our R&D,” says Ankit.
How Is This Industry Getting Disrupted?
The sleep products market in India is very large – in fact, the mattress market alone is expected to touch INR 14,000 crore by 2021 according to reports. The entry of online startups such as Mattress Box, Sunday Rest, Wink & Nod in the segment, and the rise in aspirations and awareness around sleep has fuelled the demand of the industry making the segment opportune.
With a market that is ripe and with access to products being just a click away, the snooze shop looks crowded. Will Wakefit be able to continue its REM (Rapid Eye Movement) on identifying newer ways to offer unique products to a billion Indians and thus stay ahead on the innovation curve?
“We believe in the strong dictum of listening to customers, and understanding their stated and latent needs equally. This obsession of keeping customers happy has enabled the company to be loved by a large base of over 2 lakh satisfied customers,” says Ankit.
With an increase in digitisation leading to people spending more time on smart devices, the Indian sleep patterns will continue to change. But with change, comes the need to pause and analyse nuances around the science of sleep.
Come March 15, people will be celebrating ‘World Sleep Day.’ While sleeping early and getting the right amount of sleep is a lifestyle compromise that we might not always be willing to make, the quality of sleep is definitely something we can improve. And making the right choice of sleep products is a sure shot way of getting a good snooze!