What is it about e-commerce mattress startups of late? In the U.S., Casper made headlines last year after raising $13.1 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates. The company wants to “reinvent the way mattresses are made and sold” by selling its own high quality brand directly online, thereby cutting out the commission-based middle person inherent in the traditional mattress retail industry and offering its wares at what it claims is a significantly reduced price.
Today Eve, a U.K. startup with a strikingly similar concept, is disclosing that it has picked up a more modest £225,000 in backing from Octopous Investments, an extension of an earlier £375,000 seed round led by DN Capital. The startup is headed up by CEO Jas Bagniewski, the ex-head of Zalando U.K. and co-founder of Groupon U.K. (via its acquisition of City Deal).
Asked to describe the problem Eve has set out to solve, Bagniewski cites the “complexity and absurd pricing of the mattress industry”. In contrast to the plethora of mattress options found on the high street and many online retailers, the company currently offers a single in-house design, a 10 inch deep mattress that combines memory foam and latex foam, taking advantage of both properties.
It also means the product can be efficiently vacuum packed for easier delivery (again similar to U.S.-based Casper). This aspect may seem insignificant, but remember this is a pure e-commerce play from the get-go.
Other marketing headlines include the mattress’ eye-catching yellow border, a 100 night money-back guarantee (yes, you read that correctly), and the fact that its product, which is also available in Germany, is designed and assembled in the U.K.
But actually Eve is perhaps above all an exercise in branding. “Mattresses are sold as commodities, which is strange for such a personal product. We want to make mattresses aspirational and cool – that’s what makes us different,” says Bagniewski.
“This brand will reflect the premium quality of our current core product, and so also act as a great launchpad for the exciting ideas that we have planned for the future. We want to create a global household brand for sleep.
“By selling online and direct to consumers, not only do we eliminate 70 per cent of the costs associated with buying on the high street, we also control the full supply chain to the consumer which means we can optimize the process every step of the way (e.g. offering same day delivery or super simple returns processes)”.
Along with Bagniewski, Eve’s other founders are Joe Moore (previously COO of Zen Bedrooms and a senior manager at Deloitte), Kuba Wieczorek (ex-Head of Sports Marketing at Channel 4 and Channel 4 Creative), and James Fryer (also a previous member of the Zen Bedrooms team).
The fact that both Moore and Fryer had a big hand in Zen Bedrooms, which was an early mover in mattress direct online sales, is noteworthy and arguably mitigates accusations that Eve is simply a Casper clone.