Innovating in a Dormant Sector
Philip Krim is the 33-year-old CEO of the bed-in-a-box start-up Casper. Launched in April 2014, its sales are expected to top $200 million this year. In part two of this interview, Krim shares some of the challenges he’s faced and offers tips for fledgling entrepreneurs.
Philip Krim and his four co-founders launched Casper in New York in 2014. Its flagship product, the Casper mattress, comes in a box roughly the size of a small refrigerator. Once the box is opened, it self-expands to full size. In 2015, TIME Magazine named it one of the year’s best inventions.
Casper now employs 230 people worldwide, selling its products – which have grown to include bed frames, sheets, pillows, and dog mattresses – in eight countries in Europe and North America.
Casper had sales of $100 million last year and was on course to more than double that in 2016. Its backers include tech-focused venture capital firms as well as Hollywood celebrities.
What are your geographical expansion plans?
P.K. We want to continue to globalise the business. We're excited to go into new European markets, and really want to build the world's next great global brand.
Can we expect any other new products soon?
P.K. Improving people's sleep is our north star. All the products that we take to market will revolve around making people’s lives easier when it comes to getting a better night’s sleep.
How vital has social media been to your marketing strategy?
P.K. It’s very important. Word of mouth is our biggest source of new customers — we knew it was going to be important to build a brand, and this is a category where you want to know that the product is great. Our hope is that if we over-deliver on expectations then people will share it, and that's been great for business.
You’ve been doing entrepreneurial work for about 13 years now. How has it changed? Has it become easier or harder to make it?
P.K. Broadly speaking, start-ups are getting easier. There's access to capital. There's more advice. There's more information. But, from my personal perspective, it's never easy. There's always a million struggles, challenges, and trials and tribulations, but that's what makes it fun and that's what makes it rewarding. The hard part is bringing whatever is in your head to life — that will always be tough.
What is the most important advice you'd give to fledgling entrepreneurs?
P.K. I would say stick with it and stay determined — it's very rewarding if you get through the challenges, which will always exist. Surround yourself with good people who make work fun and exciting, and have a good support system for when the going gets tough. If you have aspirations to change the world, then go for it. Jump in. Jump in with two feet and just keep fighting until the world has changed in the way that you think it should.
What have been the biggest challenges in making Casper a success?
P.K. The first was scaling the business. We were very fortunate that we had more demand than we could handle in the beginning. We did more business in the first two months than we thought we would do in our first year. Scaling the supply chain and being able to keep up with demand was a huge challenge. Hiring is really tough. I'm very lucky that I'm one of five co-founders, so we could all spend a meaningful amount of time on hiring the team.