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Designing the Mattress

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ankit Garg, Co-founder & CEO, Wakefit

Ankit Garg is the co-founder & CEO of Wakefit, the research-led mattress startup based in Bangalore. At Wakefit, he leads all product development, customer insight and innovations. He has been a serial entrepreneur and this is his second venture. Prior to this, he has worked in Bayer, which is one of the largest chemical company in the world. He holds a BTech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Roorkee and has a keen interest in chemical innovations.

In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Ankit says Wakefit's vision is to become a brand that the middle class of India favours, especially for the 'value-conscious'.

What is the idea behind Wakefit?
Mattress purchasing is an absolutely broken experience currently. The consumer has to contend with numerous so-called brands and a bewildering array of mattress types - foam, pocket spring, bonnell spring, latex, hybrid and so on. Further, due to the bloated value chain of stockists, distributors and retailers, with everybody adding their own margin, a customer ends up getting a very expensive mattress on her hands. We set out to engineer that one single mattress that suits all body types and body weights. The result of months of R&D, hundreds of customer home visits and thousands of phone calls is our flagship memory foam mattress that has been obsessively engineered.

We have been successful to the extent of the number customer lives we have positively touched. Over 40,000 products have been shipped across the length and breadth of India to satisfied customers who find the purchasing decision and post-purchase experience very positive.

How do you incorporate chemical processes in the mattress industry?
Our focus on shipping the best product to our customers means we use the most stringent processes. We choose the fabric, the foam density and firmness and the all the other innovations right from the foaming process with a lot of care. We are involved right from the raw material quality all the way to final stitching of the cover. We ensure only the best chemicals (in some cases imported) are used in the manufacturing to ensure durability and safety.

Tell us about the overall industry?
In 2016, the mattress industry was estimated to be about INR 9000 crore and has consistently grown between 8-10% for the past five years. It is estimated to be at about INR 14,000 crore by 2021, of which about INR 6000 crore will be with the organised companies in the market. It is currently dominated by offline sales given how the industry has evolved, with customers predominantly buying from multi-brand stores or in some cases, from single brand flagship stores.

Currently less than 3% of all mattress sales happen through the online channel. This is forecast to go up over the next five years as more Indians become comfortable spending. In addition, we at Wakefit provide a 100 night risk free trial and a 5-year warranty that assures customers that they are protected with their decision.

Your vision for the company?
Our vision for Wakefit is to become a brand that the middle class of India can truly trust. The Indian middle class is wrongly considered to be 'cost-conscious'. But in fact, they are 'value-conscious' - if they see value and know that they are not been taken for a ride, they are willing to pay for that experience. Currently in the mattress market, the customers with higher paying propensity have the Urban Ladders and Pepper Fry's of the world, while the value conscious middle class is left to deal with local manufacturers and spurious products.

Why should that be? We are working to make Wakefit that brand that they can trust, spend their hard earned money and feel satisfied with that decision for the next 10 years. They should still be able to pick up the phone and call with a doubt like in a high-end brand and know that they are never alone in this journey.

Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
Five years hence, we want to be a household name, with the middle class trusting us blindly that we will keep our promises. Of course, we are working hard to keep our growth rate very high and we are present in thousands of homes. Our day is made when a customer writes to us saying that their old parents are sleeping well or when they call to tell us that they feel truly rested after sleeping on our mattress. I think that is core to our DNA and will not change even after five years!

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