Interview: Helen Powell on Mode, the Bristol-based bed startup looking to make sleeping smart.29th October 2018
National Sleep in Day! When the clocks go back and we all get to enjoy an extra hour in bed. As millions of us enjoy the benefits of feeling a touch more rested, Bristol-based Mode are looking to deliver better sleep all year round.
In 2018 it feels like smart tech has reached every corner of our daily lives, so it feels inevitable that it begins to enter our night-lives too. Founded in 2016, the Smart Bed designer and retailer is finally bringing their vision to life after their launch this summer. Their beds move with you to find your most comfortable positions, have USB charging, massage, under-bed lighting, an anti-snore design and, of course, you are able to control it all from a bespoke App.
We spoke with their founder, Helen Powell, about how Mode are looking to change the way people sleep, and why now is the time to make beds Smart.
TechSPARK: How did Mode come to be?
Helen Powell: We began designing and developing our beds in late 2016 and officially launched in Summer 2018. To date, we have built the company on debt finance using a Startup Loan, but we plan on looking for investment in the near future. We’re only a small team, but I’ve established some great relationships with very effective suppliers to outsource a lot of day to day functions so that we can be flexible to the needs of the business.
TS: What challenges have you had to overcome in bringing a new product to market?
HP: Launching a new product on a budget is very challenging in terms of both effectively getting it in front of our target market and also educating people on the benefits of a smart bed.
We worked closely with our manufacturer and supplier in the development of our beds and formed a close-knit team. We seek out help wherever we can, from employing experts to just grabbing a coffee and a chat and learning from other people’s experiences.
TS: Why is now the right time introduce a Smart Bed?
HP: Sleep plays a major part in our mental and physical health, from how well we feel, to our productivity and even the effectiveness of our memory. According to the NHS, an estimated 1 in 3 people suffers from mild insomnia or difficulty with sleep. So, it’s no wonder that many of us are looking for new innovative ways to improve how easily we fall, and stay, asleep.
In addition, we also use our beds for more than sleep, with the average person in the UK spending over 5 hours a week doing other activities such as reading, watching TV or working. Both from a health and lifestyle perspective this makes it a great time for people to consider a smart bed. Sleep personalisation is the future of sleep and a great way to improve the overall quality of your nights. The idea that there’s one sleep position or bed shape that suits everyone is outdated.
TS: Are there any specific benefits of using a Smart Bed?
HP: A smart bed uses cleverly-designed technology to help you sleep better. Having the flexibility to change your position means that you can listen to your body’s needs. Being able to adjust your bed position improves sleep posture. This can help to ease back and neck pain, but it’s also a good way to address other issues that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. If you suffer from heartburn, acid reflux or snoring, you could benefit from an elevated head and chest position to ease your symptoms. On the other hand, circulation issues and sports recovery can benefit from elevating the legs and feet.
On top of that our smart beds contain a number of features designed to make life easier; massage to help you unwind, under-bed lighting so that you can slip out of bed without waking your partner, USB charging so that you can always have your tech to hand, and an anti-snore design which allows you to control your partner’s side of the bed. Having more control over your bed, via our app, helps you improve your sleep quality and feel more connected to your bed.
TS: Why was Bristol the right place to launch Mode?
HP: Bristol is a great place for starting out. There are some fantastic support networks for new businesses and opportunities for networking. It’s been really beneficial talking to other startups too and lots of people are happy to share their business experiences, both good and bad!
TS: What should we be looking for from Mode in the future?
HP: We are currently focussed on our launch, getting our beds in front of as many people as possible and making sales, but, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to promote our beds. Initially we want to focus on growing a core team to help with the day to day running of the company and the delivery of our marketing strategy to increase our reach.
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