This post is part of a series dedicated to highlighting small and medium-sized enterprises across the country employing technology in new and innovative ways.
Whoever argued that if “you snooze, you lose,” had never met One Fresh Pillow co-founders (and husband-wife team) Aaron and Adrianne Kautz. Their Tallahassee, FL-based startup, which was founded in 2016 and is ramping up for a launch later this year, is the world’s first online pillow service. One Fresh Pillow deliveries will not only relieve subscribers of their tired (pun intended) and unsanitary pillows, but also provide better head and neck support to ensure a better night’s sleep. We connected with Aaron and Adrianne to learn more about the companies that have inspired them, where they hope One Fresh Pillow will be in the coming months and years, and how technology is the key to the company’s growth.
Courtney Duffy (DisCo): A pillow subscription service would be virtually impossible without the Internet. Can you share some of the ways in which the Internet makes One Fresh Pillow a reality?
Adrianne (One Fresh Pillow): Everything about One Fresh Pillow is related to the Internet. All we want to do is provide our customers with a pillow that will give them the sleep they’re looking for. We originally thought about a brick and mortar, but we realized that the best way to reach the most people would be online.
Aaron (One Fresh Pillow): Early on I never thought that consumers would want to buy pillows online. But the more I spoke with people about our endeavor, the more they suggested that e-commerce was the way to go. Beyond just selling online, the Internet has been a crucial tool for connecting us with our factory, dealing with shipping, and coordinating with our fulfillment center. Just about every aspect of One Fresh Pillow relies on the Internet in one capacity or another.
DisCo: Did you turn to the Internet as you developed One Fresh Pillow’s business plan/launch strategy and if so, how?
Aaron: Once we realized that the brick and mortar approach wasn’t sustainable we developed a new plan and came up with the subscription model. It seemed like a natural fit for what we were trying to do, which was to reach and help as many people as possible.
DisCo: Do you have any advice for other startups looking to incorporate technology into their growth strategies?
Adrianne: Technology is everything. It’s ingrained so deeply into our human experience that many people take it for granted. Aaron and I grew up in an age when cell phones and the Internet were a novelty, but when our daughter was only a year old, she knew how to operate an iPhone. The key is to find a way to make a meaningful and human connection while using all the technology we have at our disposal. Technology means nothing unless it is solving a true problem. Communication has no value without there being a real person behind it.
Aaron: I would say to explore all avenues in the tech field you can to help you grow fast and strong. A good strategist can help you with customer acquisition and funnel data into the right plan for your business.
DisCo: What other Internet-powered companies and/or business models have inspired you during the incubator/development phase?
Aaron: Our biggest inspiration has been Michael Dubin and Dollar Shave Club. He took a $4,500 video and a small surplus and turned it into a master class on the value of viral in the social economy. We want to be the Dollar Shave Club of pillows. Not that our pillows will necessarily be the least expensive option, but we want to disrupt the pillow market just like DSC disrupted the razor market.
DisCo: How can the sleep industry optimize technology down the line, and what sorts of technology policies would make that easier?
Adrianne: Technology is making our lives easier in so many ways. Communication is the greatest beneficiary of technological advancements – we can communicate with anyone, anywhere in real time. Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and good old-fashioned email, we can spread the message of One Fresh Pillow to literally anyone in the world for little or no cost. But we still feel like a good night’s rest shouldn’t require anything fancy. There are so many over-engineered options on the market today that consumers are inundated with misinformation about sleep. We want to make good sleep less complicated: “All you need is One Fresh Pillow.” Digital communication will be the key to spreading our message.
DisCo: What’s next for One Fresh Pillow?
Aaron: (Laughing) That’s an easy one…World Domination! No, seriously we are looking into new platforms for customer acquisition and retention while building our brand. We are exploring ways to get our message out on as many digital platforms as possible and grow into a great company.
Adrianne: Our official launch is the biggest thing on the horizon. We’re doing a test run of about 300 pillows. This will allow us to test all of the systems we have in place and make any tweaks needed prior to a larger roll-out.
Interested in trying it out the pillows for yourself? You can sign up for One Fresh Pillow’s waiting list here.
Courtney Duffy is a Research & Innovation Fellow at CCIA and an MBA Candidate at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Follow @cduffy90