There’s nothing better than being welcomed by your bed, wrapped in cozy sheets after a long day at the office. This week’s Vancouver Entrepreneur feature is bedface, a local Vancouver startup that plans to disrupt the sleep industry with technology and much more.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
Lynnfield: My name is Lynnfield Mitchell and I work alongside founders Brad Westerop and Fraser Hall as the Brand Director at bedface, an online bedding brand that delivers the best damn sheets on the internet.
How do we do this?
Firstly, we offer 24 carefully selected colours in all of our products, which can be mix and matched by customers to create their dream beds.
In terms of the technology, in order to create the best damn sheets, we start with the best damn fabric. That’s why we’ve developed our own proprietary facetech™ cotton, used in all of our products. Designed with quality, breathability, comfort, and durability in mind, facetech™ is temperature-regulating and only gets better and softer with each wash and use. We are so confident that customers will love our sheets, we back all of them with a 100 Night Guarantee.
By working directly with a few select makers, we cut out the middlemen and pass the savings along to customers, with queen sets priced at just $239 Canadian (includes a duvet cover, flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillowcases). Furthermore, bedface is able to ship worldwide in under a week, with North American flat rate shipping at $9 and International at $19.
We were inspired to create bedface, seeing an opportunity in the market to become the premier online bedding destination, just as Warby Parker has done for glasses or Casper has done for mattresses.
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
Brad: Seeing an opportunity to disrupt the traditional bedding industry was clear to me, but being able to do it right has been my biggest challenge. This has involved a lot of research/testing into developing the best fabrication, hand selecting a few best-in-class makers, and ensuring that our business will be scalable to support our future projected growth.
Fraser: The most challenging part about running bedface for me, has been the seasonality of the retail industry coupled with the long lead times in product development. On top of that I am no expert in bedding, so I have had to have a crash course in fabric, colour theory and what makes for great linens.
Lynnfield: Brad and Fraser definitely know how to dream big, so when I first joined the bedface team 3 months ago, it was our goal to launch before the holiday season. So, in 3 months, we have been tasked with accomplishing what traditional brands spend 12-18mths on. Thankfully, Brad and Fraser are well versed in launching online brands, so their experience and knowledge has been instrumental in expediting our processes.
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of bed face?
Lynnfield: bedface was dreamt up by founders Brad Westerop (thuggies.com) and Fraser Hall (Recon Instruments, bryght.com). Both serial entrepreneurs, Brad and Fraser have been very active in the Vancouver startup community, launching several successful startups and applying their learnings from those businesses to the development of bedface.
bedface is headquartered in a shared startup space in Railtown, so we draw daily inspiration from the passion, energy, and excitement of other rising Vancouver startups.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
Lynnfield: Traditionally, bedding brands and retailers offer pre-packaged sheet sets in a limited colour selection. Furthermore, they charge a premium price for quality product, with complete sets costing upwards of $500.
We create premium sheets, in a full spectrum of colour, at great prices, that’s our value.
We encourage customers to mix and match all of our sheets, so they only buy what they need.
Brad: We seek to make every aspect of our customer experience journey fun. Leveraging technology, we have built a custom Bed Maker, which allows customers to take the drivers seat in designing their dream bed. Through the Bed Maker, customers are able to try out any colour combination (28 million unique combinations) and visualize the finished product before they buy it. They are also able to add fun elements and backgrounds and are encouraged to share their creation to social media for free shipping. Customers can also expect their bedface orders to be packed with love and include special gifts designed to surprise and delight upon delivery.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
Brad: Prior to launching my own business, I have always considered myself an interpreneur within my previous organizations, being challenged to grow each business I worked for creatively. I then dove head first into entrepreneurship, launching Thuggies in 2010 and haven’t looked back since.
Two major challenges that I have had to overcome to succeed have been in achieving financial stability in the early days at Thuggies and also in validating an idea and then making it into a reality.
Fraser: I co-founded Recon Instruments as a class project during my MBA at UBC. After graduation, my team members and I went our separate ways taking “real” jobs. Through further discussions, we realized that we really had something special. We believed in the product, our team, our GTM strategy, and saw an excellent product market fit. All that was left was to take a leap of faith. This is when I first became an entrepreneur. Since that leap, I have now gone on to take several more, launching Hall Pacific, Bryght.com, Vancouver Founder Fund, and now bedface.
The challenge that I had to overcome is in embracing a life of uncertainty. And with that, having to forgo a certain level of comfort and financial security.
Lynnfield: My background is in Fashion Design having worked for Bootlegger and lululemon previously. Realizing that my future goals better aligned with launching my own business or working with an early stage startup, I returned to do my MBA, specializing in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It was through this process, that I met Fraser and joined the bedface team.
Making this leap of faith to working in a startup was scary for me, as a large company definitely provides more of a sense of security. But now that I have made the transition, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love the satisfaction of seeing our brand take shape each and every day.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
Brad: The majority of my family members are entrepreneurs, running businesses ranging from construction to textiles and everything in between. When my Grandfather first immigrated to Canada from Holland, he worked in a bakery. With a lot of hard work and determination, he later went on to buy the business. His passion and drive inspired me in starting bedface.
Fraser: My co-founders are who I draw my inspiration from. Their values and ambition are what inspires me.
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Brad: Our brand is all about fun, so I’d be stoked to get Seth Rogan into some sheets.
Lynnfield: I second Brad, I think Seth Rogen would make some amazing ads or videos for our brand. Seth are you available?
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
Brad: I would tell my younger self to put money aside for new business ventures such as Thuggies and bedface. I would also tell him to get started earlier. I think it would have been awesome to have launched a startup while I was in University.
Fraser: I would tell my younger self not to listen to everybody else and to trust my own instincts more. No need to follow typical career paths.
Lynnfield: I am a big believer in the power of goal setting, so I would tell my younger self to set goals often and dream big.
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
Brad: Key resources for me would be alibaba.com, which I have used to find suppliers for all of my endeavours. Stitch Labs has also been an instrumental app for our business, managing our inventory for 24 colours. Without them, we would be lost.
A winning habit would be waking up early to make the most out of my day. I have also (finally) started using the calendar on my phone. This has helped organize my life better.
Fraser: My best resource is my trusted and close network that I maintain. When I need assistance with making a decision, I think about who in my network I can ask to help me work through it.
A winning habit that I utilize daily is face-to-face interactions. I like to check in with the people rather than the companies I run. I am a believer in trust, so if they are doing well, I am confident that the business is doing the same.
Lynnfield: I am the queen of lists. Without them, I would be lost. As an entrepreneur, there are a million different things to do, all of which are urgent, so writing things down and prioritizing is key for me.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Brad: I see the key to success in the early stages of a startup being to bootstrap as much as possible. If you don’t have to quit your day job, don’t.
Fraser: My advice would be to find something that you are either going to love doing or are passionate about changing the world for.
Lynnfield: Take time to form meaningful and authentic relationships and networks with others and make yourself referable. You never know who you will work with, partner with, need advice from, etc.
Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.