“I thought about our competitors and how they were marketing their products,” says Kuba Wieczorek, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at eve Sleep. “Everyone was doing much the same thing. We decided to do things differently.”
Established in 2014, eve Sleep came to the market with a revolutionary memory foam mattress, delivered in a box and designed not only to adjust to the contours of the body for maximum comfort but also to provide a cool night's sleep without any build-up of heat. It was, as Kuba recalls, “a phenomenal product,” but the challenge facing the founders was to capture the imagination of consumer and turn a great idea into a commercial success. Two years on, the company has sold over 45,000 mattresses and has expanded into Europe.
From the beginning, eve had a high-powered team in place, including Jas Bagniewski who was on the senior management team at Groupon UK and headed up Zalando UK, Joe Moore, formerly of accountancy firm Deloitte, and mattress industry veteran James Fryer. Kuba's background was in branding and marketing and before joining the three other co-founders, he headed up Channel 4’s in-house creative agency 4 Creative.
Kuba was originally approached by his cousin, Jas, to advise on the branding and marketing but quickly became a partner in the business. “I was impressed by the mattress in a box concept,” he says. “And I really thought we could achieve something special with it.”
With a remit to lead the marketing side of the operation, Kuba saw an opportunity to differentiate eve from its competitors by positioning it as a 'cool' lifestyle brand. “When I looked at other mattress providers, they based their messaging either around sleep or functionality,” he says. “I took a different approach by focusing on the benefits of sleep. The idea that every great day starts with a good night's sleep.”
A subtle difference, but one that has allowed eve to focus on energy and lifestyle, rather than slumber.
As Kuba acknowledges, the branding – which is reflected in its yellow equity – is only part of the story. eve products sell online and cost from £399 for a single, so they represent a significant purchase. As such, a vital part of the company's success has been its ability to win the confidence of customers. “We offer a 100 day trial. People can send back the mattress and get a full refund. We even pay shipping,” he says. Equally important, the mattress comes in a range of sizes and is a fraction of the cost of rivals on the high street due to its lean business model.
A positive response from consumers was almost immediate. Within six months of launch in 2015, the Telegraph reported that eve was on track for £1m sales in year one.
But there have been challenges. “We wanted the most talented people,” says Kuba. “But in the early days we were an unknown brand selling mattresses. To many people, that didn't seem attractive as a career choice.”
To bring the brightest and most talented on board, the company not only stressed the cool brand element and the pioneering business plan, but also made a point of ensuring that founders attended every interview. It's a strategy that has worked. Kuba is proud of the 80 strong workforce.
The company's marketing has evolved. Initially, they focused on using Google Adwords to drive customers to a design-led site. “We made sure that everything on the site was beautifully simple,” says Kuba. Since then the company has branched out into social media and above-the-line advertising in the shape of a London underground poster campaign. “Our awareness grew from 1 per cent to 14 per cent after the campaign,” he says. Word of mouth is also hugely important.
Supported by seed funding, eve has expanded its operations to 12 European countries, with demand particularly strong in France and Germany. “Our goal now is to continue expanding and consolidate our European success and to roll out new products,” says Kuba, citing a soon to be launched pyjama range.
Success has been rapid, but underpinned by a strong business model and clever branding.
By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. This briefing does not constitute advice nor a recommendation relating to the acquisition or disposal of investments. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.
This article was previously published on Smith & Williamson prior to the launch of Evelyn Partners.