December 15, 2013
JT and I shared our lessons learned on how we bootstrapped to the #1 rated mattress on Amazon.com, and it’s now featured as a top link on Hacker News.
Here’s the post:
About 12 months ago we founded a mattress company called Tuft & Needle. The HN community has been a great source of inspiration/education and we’re proud to share our progress. We recently reached the #1 “Top Rated” rank in Mattresses and #2 in Furniture on Amazon.com.
Problem: Painful shopping experience and extremely high margins in the mattress industry.
Solution: We make a good bed without any gimmicks. It is comfortable, safe and attractive without falsely advertised features or fraudulent discounts.
Business: We launched with a MVP and a simple landing page to test our ideas. Then about 4 months ago, we listed on Amazon and it’s caught up to be a significant sales channel on its own. In the last quarter we’ve had 100% month-over-month growth. We don’t spend on advertising, and more than half our sales are from word-of-mouth referrals and social media.
Technical: We take a pragmatic approach with everything including the storefront, sales tools, inventory tracking and fulfillment processes. We use 3rd-party services for payments (Stripe), bitcoin (Coinbase), shipping labels (EasyPost), CRM (Intercom), etc. Stack: Rails+AngularJS+Heroku.
Lesson Learned: Our primary success factor was starting with a rough draft. We didn’t like our v1 much—an all cotton tufted mattress—but that didn’t keep us from launching with it. This gave us a chance to experiment with problem/solution and to start collecting feedback right away. We had to do quite a few returns at first but we iterated constantly until our customer satisfaction was high enough for us to start getting referrals.
We would really value the community’s opinion. We want to get as much feedback as possible to make sure we’re going in the right direction.