Does your business have a story to tell?
Shanir Kol: My journey as an entrepreneur started way back in 1999 soon after I returned from my studies at the California State University Business School in Northridge, CA. As a budding businessman, my determination was always to help customers make informed and risk-free decisions while purchasing things. This thought process helped me start 4rihut.co.il, the first company ever to offer high end furniture.
Although my offer was met with skepticism at first, my thirst for innovation was high and I eventually found the right partner to make this work, for over 14 years. The reviews that I amassed from the online furniture business propelled me further to go with the new concept of “Try and Buy” in eCommerce. My company SleepPare today is challenging the traditional process of purchasing mattresses by making it a personalized experience. Our sole aim at the showroom is to help companies and customers privately test the mattress without interruption before making the final call. Thanks to our showrooms, customer don’t have to choose between getting a great online mattress to being able to test the mattress prior to buying, they can enjoy both worlds.
One great side effect this process had proven to have been that not only customer have 400% larger change of getting the right mattress in the first shot, this new and improved procedure has saved thousands of mattresses from getting chunked and by that helped reduce wastage and mitigated the carbon footprint worldwide.
When did you start this business and where did you get this idea from?
Shanir Kol: Before I elaborate on the details of my professional career, I must clarify that every journey has its share of ups and downs, mine is no different. Initially, I conceived the idea of SleepPare in 2017 after being in the online business for 14 years straight.
One of the major intentions behind starting the project was to solve the prominent issue of customers that buy larger items, than incredibly having a high return rate, with huge effects of worldwide wastage. Our test and buy methodology have been able to lessen the carbon footprint and diminish the return policy. If we look at the bigger picture here, the company has been effective in solving 10x problems such as sleep disorders, health issues, temperature fluctuations, and necessary support to the whole body with its 30-minute scheduled showroom appointments.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
Shanir Kol: Let me be very honest here, the only purpose of introducing an innovative concept is to be of service to the public. Hearing people thanking us for even existing, when they only walk in the door of showroom, really fills me up with joy, and when I hear that someone drove over 100 miles to be able to use our service, it gives me chills. I always wanted to help people by guiding them to choose a perfect mattress that can solve health issues as well. And through SleepPare my goals have become fully functional in a way.
Ever since the inception of our business, I have been receiving tremendous responses from our customers which has been satisfying for me. We have gotten the privilege to improve the sleep quality of over 10,000 people to date, that thought alone fill us with pride in SleePare. While the aim of the business was to help people choose the correct mattress, what motivates me since it has grown to 5 states, is that I have been able to address the environmental challenges also, which is a rare feat to achieve. I am not working on investing the profits of the company in a solar PV farm, to make Sleepare a 0 Carbon print operation.
Where do you derive your motivation from?
Shanir Kol: The journey of starting an online retail site for customized mattresses that caters to a healthier lifestyle is something I have always dreamed of. Honestly speaking, when I see that through my idea, I have been able to make a stark difference in people’s lives, it feels like the best reward I could ever get.
Our efforts and perseverance have also led SleepPare to open up Try before you buy showroom in 5 states, to serve major Metropolis areas in the United States. With the constant support of the online brands, that are as excited as us to save 70% of returns and exchanges, we have been able to generate over $10 Million in direct and affiliate sales and created over 20 full jobs in the process.
My ambition for the next five years is to expand SleePare to 30 showrooms in both the US and Canada. I have been very lucky to achieve great partnership with prominent brands such as, Winkbeds, Helix, Puffy, Brooklyn Bedding, Bear, and the Nectar/Dreamcloud group. The fact that I can be a driving force for the team by executing ideas properly and doing things my way is an amazing gift and a huge motivating factor for me.
Your most challenging phase in this journey?
Shanir Kol: I think the second quarter of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak came across as a huge roadblock for many businesses and I am no different. The restrictions, guidelines, and the fear of the disease made the entire operation at SleepPare close down for 4 months, with no clear horizon.
Additionally, I had to cope with other issues as well. There was a lot of uncertainty amongst the staff at my office which gave rise to problems. As many people at that time were backing down due to the fear of the disease, we had to regroup and restructure our strategies to keep going amidst the delirious situation. when we were able to re-open the stores, I had to re-build the team practically from the scratch, and in July 2020, start from $0 sales per day all over again, at the same spot we have started in Jun 2018 when we first open
One message for new entrepreneurs?
Shanir Kol: Well, I guess every successful entrepreneur will mostly say don’t quit if it doesn’t succeed at first, so my little tip here will be, when things do go well, and there are successes, do analyze them and learn from them, in the same way you would learn and analyze defeats. I got this idea form the Israeli air-force, where they have a thorough investigation after each and every operation, be it a successful one or a failed one. There is always a place to learn and analyze the idea-execution-result chain of events.
Also, you should have a keen eye for monitoring the overall course taken by your business. Be collaborative in your management style and throw away the concept of hierarchy in your company. An environment where team members voice their opinion and take an active role in building the firm, I think will be more successful and more pleasant.
Every business has its success and failure as inevitable part of the journey, I think the ones who are most successful are the ones that know how to learn from both.
Your success mantra?
Shanir Kol: I am not sure I have achieved enough to be giving anyone “mantras”, but If I would have to, I would say, as an entrepreneur, make sure you do what you really want to do, because only If you are passioned about it, you will be able to build the group of people around you that will feel like a small family, dedicated to that dream, to make it a reality together with you.
If you do something you don’t fully believe in, you will never be able to generate the energy needed to make that happen.
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