Two years after launching, Casper prepares for European expansion

It’s been exactly two years since Casper started selling mattresses, and CEO Philip Krim said it’s already turned into a big business, with $100 million in revenue (not to mention a $550 million valuation) in 2015.

Next up is international expansion, with the New York City-headquartered startup opening an office in Berlin. That office currently has four employees, but Krim said the number should be up to “one or two dozen” by the time Casper launches in Germany this summer.

Why start Casper’s European push in Berlin? Krim praised the “great startup ecosystem” and “the cost of doing business.” Plus: “Germany is the biggest mattress market in Europe.”

Now that Casper is available across the United States and Canada, Krim said there’s a “playbook” for moving into new markets, but, at the same time, “We do have to localize every part of the business,” including finding new manufacturing partners so that the startup isn’t shipping U.S.-made mattresses overseas.

The past two years have also seen a boom in mattress startups. Krim characterized many of them as “knockoffs” and “copycats.” I doubt those companies would agree, but Casper does seem to have started a trend.

“I don’t think it’s a winner-take-all category,” Krim said. “We don’t mind competitors” — but he said the team does laugh at the ones that seem particularly blatant in copying aspects of Casper’s design or branding.

But what exactly is new here? Is it just the act of buying mattresses online? Krim said Casper is differentiated “on both the product and the experience” — in other words, it’s a high-quality, affordable mattress, but it also offers a better ordering, delivery and return experience. (By the way, I gave in and bought a Casper mattress earlier this year, and I think I really am sleeping better.)

Casper has also expanded beyond its product line, offering things like pillows and bed sheets. Krim said that in some ways, the pillow has worked as a “gateway to the Casper brand” for customers who aren’t ready to buy the mattress. The company will continue to add more products, though he’s staying mum for now on what they’ll be.