It’s been a heck of a ride for Casper since it was founded a few years ago. Just this year a lone, you were listed as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in the World. What are your reflections on all the recognition so far?
It is always great to see positive recognition from the industry and the media. Casper has won some fantastic awards including Time magazine’s Best Invention and most recently awarded the Which? Best Buy and the Independent Indy Best Buy to name but a few.
We are of course a sleep company that was founded on a real consumer insight, so we are always happiest when are customers are.
Take us back a little. How was Casper conceived and what was the motivation behind starting it?
Casper launched in the US in 2014, when Philip, Neil, Luke, Gabe and Jeff realised, when working in a shared workspace, that although we are all taking care of ourselves by drinking the latest green juice trend, or cycling to work, we are all still tired and sleep deprived. They noticed that all the effort we go to, to make ourselves feel great, hadn’t really extended to our sleep habits and how we make that environment the best it can be.
We wanted to make a one size fits all mattress that could work for everyone and help create a great environment at home and ultimately, revolutionise the sleep industry. When we launched, we were inundated. We generated $1 million in revenue in our first 28 days.
Since then, we have added to the portfolio with a range of other sleep products and launched across Europe and in the UK in 2016.
Describe your role and responsibilities as co-founder and global managing director of Casper.
I work with a great team at our European headquarters based in Berlin, developing the business outside of North America. I head up Casper’s international teams leading the company’s geographical expansion and new markets.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Casper.
Joining Casper was a milestone for me personally and professionally and it’s a brand I am especially proud of.
Before joining the Casper team, I headed up the marketing, IT, HR and product development departments at Home24, where I oversaw eight markets in two major regions.
What got you into the retail sector in the first place?
I always enjoy the daily interactions I have with customers and building those relationships with a product and a service they might not have previously found online is fascinating. Changing an industry from the ground up gets me up every day.
At Casper, we do see ourselves as a product-focused company, however we all love the interaction, the feedback and also the challenges which we solve for our customers every day.
How has your previous experience aided your current job?
I think at some point you develop a skill set, which enables you to assess and understand pretty much any situation. My job is to enable the people we employ to do their best, it’s incredibly important to ensure that we have the right eye for talent. Clearly, leading people successfully is something which develops over time as you work with different teams and individuals over the years.
How is Casper adapting to the challenges that face retail at the moment?
We are a relatively new company in comparison to some of the more traditional mattress companies out there, which means we are of course still learning, but it also means we can be flexible, agile and only do things that we believe in.
We are passionate about building connections with our consumers whether online, face-to-face or even via our bedtime story hotline which consumers can call for free after 8pm. This is what sets us apart from others and allows us to continue to lead the bedtime revolution.
How is Casper different to other mattress retailers?
For us it’s all about research and development. It’s about providing customers with a buying experience they will enjoy and get something out of – other than just the product at the end of it. We like to focus on “conversational commerce” and engage with our consumers on more than just a purchase level.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Making sure that I am scaling the organisation against the overall business development as best possible. Having the time to find the right people for the right job is fundamental, and so is being able to say “no” to things.
And the most rewarding?
Knowing that we are in a position to continually innovate products that we are all passionate about and give our customers a life well slept.
Can you talk about any upcoming projects you’re working on at the moment?
This month we launched our very first trend report which we commissioned to help us understand our consumer even more. What we discovered was that we’re not the only ones crazy about bed. It fact, it revealed that 84 per cent of Europeans love their bed so much that bed has become a creative lifestyle space and an emotional sanctuary.
The research surveyed 5000 adults across Germany, France, UK, Austria and Switzerland and we’ve coined this cultural movement – Generation Bed. As part of our mission to bring bedtime to this generation of bed lovers we are hosting a series of initiatives across Europe that consumers don’t have to get out of bed for, from Sleep in Cinemas in Vienna to a giant Sleepmobile in Ely’s Yard, Shoreditch.
What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?
I think the retail landscape is clearly shifting, and is something to really keep a close eye on. An omnichannel approach has become more important and offers large opportunities online as well as in the offline world.
What would you say is the biggest risk/challenge for the retail sector, given the current climate?
At Casper, we believe that the consumer mindset is changing, from needing to just “buy” a product to wanting to be part of something bigger. We often see brands, which fall by the wayside when they don’t operate fast enough or dynamically enough in their respective markets, they can get trapped and suddenly lose relevance.
Retailers require a clear purpose which the customer values, and feels connected with.