Does your business have a story to tell?
Shanir Kol: My journey as an entrepreneur started way back in 1999, soon after graduating from the California State University Business School in Northridge, CA. As a budding businessman, my sole determination was always to help customers make informed and risk-free decisions while purchasing things. This novel thought process helped me start an online furniture showroom in Israel. Although my decision was met with skepticism at first, my thirst for innovation was so high that I went with the flow regardless of the result. The reviews I amassed from the online furniture business propelled me further to go with the new “Try and Buy” concept in eCommerce.
My company, Sleepare, today is challenging the archaic 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. This new and improved procedure has not only saved thousands of mattresses from getting chunked but has also reduced 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 good and bad moments; mine is no different. Initially, I conceived the idea of Sleepare between 2017 and 2018 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 worldwide wastage.
Our test and buy methodology has 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. I always wanted to help people by guiding them to choose a perfect mattress that can solve health issues as well. And through Sleepare, 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 changed the lives of over 10,000 people to date and are targeting to reach around 40,000 citizens each year. While the sole aim of the business was to help people choose the correct mattress, what motivates me is that I have been able to address the environmental challenges also, which is a rare feat to achieve.
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 Sleepare to open up around five physical stores across major hubs in the United States. Not only this, but we have also generated around 10 million in direct and affiliate sales and also created employment for people.
My ambition for the next five years is to expand my business to 30 stores in both US and Canada. Under my able leadership, the organization has been able to partner with prominent brands such as Netflix, Winkbeds, Helix, Puffy, Brooklyn, and Dreamcloud. The fact that I can be a driving force for the team by executing ideas properly and doing things your way is an amazing gift and a huge motivating factor for me.
What is your most challenging phase in this journey?
Shanir Kol: I think the year 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 four months. 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. In a way, when I decided to come back into the market again, I had to build everything from scratch.
One message for new entrepreneurs?
Shanir Kol: Well, one of my biggest learning through the entrepreneurial journey has been to never take anything for granted. And I would like to give this message to young minds as well. People who dream of building a business shall properly investigate the “Israeli Way” and implement it as a strategy in their operation.
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 always has a greater success ratio when compared to others.
Always remember success and failure are an inevitable part of your journey. So, analyze them well and take note of points that are not in your favor, and make sure to discard them before evaluating the next step.
Your success mantra?
Shanir Kol: I have always believed that any work which has a novel thought process as backend support and stems from proper collaboration gets an overwhelming response from the audience. So, whether you are in any work domain, “Keep on Investigating, learning, trying, and hearing the opinions of as many people in the process.”
Truly speaking, although the idea of SleepPare was initiated to eliminate the “Global Waste” problem, the resounding success we have achieved so far is solely due to teamwork only.
Have you read?
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