Sleep. The new workout.
Anyone who has ever walked into a mattress store to be confronted by a bamboozling array of choice and an ill-informed salesperson determined to sell you whatever she is getting commission on this week, understands the opportunity spotted by the founders of Casper. Surely it can be better than this?
Casper applied an Apple-like simplicity to the process of finding and buying a mattress, and quickly created a $200 million business. Given that everyone needs a new mattress at some point in their life, there’s plenty of upside left in their direct model yet, and partnerships with the likes of West Elm reveal the opportunity with new distribution partners able to create a better customer experience than the Sleep Station mega store out by the used car dealership.
But what makes Casper a challenger brand to watch in 2017 is the larger opportunity that they seem poised for: becoming the first power-brand in the world of sleep.
If health and wellness is a three-legged stool of diet, exercise, and sleep, as some suggest it is, then there is a huge business to be had around not just the mattress, but other aspects of the land of nod. Both Casper’s own blog and the wonderful spin-off Van Winkle's signal the seriousness with which the Casper team are trying to understand and educate about the mysterious third of our day that dictates so much about what happens in the other two-thirds.
With the current mania for performance enhancing life hacks of various sorts expect to see Casper’s influence – and business – grow this year and beyond.
Challenging ideas, something out of nothing, lover of progress. Mark Barden is a partner at eatbigfish and based in San Francisco.