Next up in our mattress executive interview series we’re chatting with the founder and CEO of Winkbeds, Dan Adler, about how he went from playing college basketball to law school to launching a premium hybrid mattress brand.
When you finish reading, enter to win both a Winkbeds mattress in the size/firmness of your choice and check out our Winkbeds mattress reviews to learn more about their offerings.
Playing college basketball, then attending law school, the next step is to create a mattress brand, right? In all seriousness, walk our readers through the decision to get into the sleep space and launch Winkbeds.
Great question. I was lucky enough as a young kid to discover that I loved playing the game of basketball. As I got into my early teens I loved it so much that I basically went “all in” on trying to become the best player that I could.
During this time, I learned that it wasn’t necessarily playing actual games that I loved so much, it was more the process and practice of trying to become the best player I could be. Working on my game during the off-season, doing drills, gaining strength, and then coming back the next year having leveled up my game is what I really enjoyed. I became very passionate about going on “all in” on the daily practice of becoming the best I could be.
I ended up walking onto the basketball team at Penn State which was an incredibly good experience for me.
After college I was looking for that next thing I could go “all-in” on. Law was interesting to me and so after a short stint working at an advertising agency, I went to law school and then accepted a job at a New York City law firm.
It turned out that working at the law firm was very difficult for me.
For the first time in my life I felt like I wasn’t “all-in” on what I was doing. During these years I did a lot of thinking about what I was good at, what I loved to do, and what the world needed. Two of the things that I kept coming back to were that I loved to be around smart and interesting people and that I usually did my best work when I was in a position of leadership, with the weight of a project squarely on my shoulders. So I began to think about starting my own business.
As I explored what the world might need (and it could use a lot of things!) I learned about the mattress industry and the way in which mattresses were unfairly marked up by physical retailers and then frequently would break down on customers prematurely ultimately resulting in a horrible customer experience.
At that point I set out on a path to go “all-in” on starting my own mattress company. From day one our mission was to work with the best people in the industry to create the most comfortable, longest lasting sleep products, and sell them at a reasonable price point and with top notch guarantees and warranties. WinkBeds was born.
Being located in New York, how did you come to the decision to work with the factory in Watertown, Wisconsin to produce your mattress?
We partnered with the Wisconsin factory because the people who work there align with our company’s mission. The individual mattress makers in Wisconsin have been building beds, by hand, the old fashioned way for the majority of their careers. Through our partnership, we’ve created the mantra “Hi-Tech Meets Hi Touch” which means that in our beds, we use the most modern and innovative technologies and sleep materials but that we build our beds using traditional hand sewing and quilting techniques that make the mattresses durable and give each mattress there own unique character.
For the last year or so, many of the major online brands have incorporated the use of pocketed coils into new lines, Winkbeds was around well before then, what made you decide to design a mattress using pocketed coils?
With our mission to be hi-tech meets hi-touch, we seek to be ahead of curve with respect to the technology we use in our beds. When we designed our mattress, we looked at the best technology available and pocketed coils made for one of the best types of deep support systems you could use. When we launched almost everyone else online was selling simple 2 layer or 3 layer all foam mattresses. I think the fact that other companies have come online and introduced pocketed coils speaks to how we raised bar for quality online.
Along those same lines, take us through the reasoning behind using two sets of pocketed coils in the mattress, one in the support layer and a micro coil system in the comfort layer.
Again, it had to do with creating a product that offered customers maximum value. Micro-coils were one of the newer bedding technologies that offered a unique balance of comfort and support while remaining breathable so the mattress slept cool.
Even with the application of two sets of coils, the WinkBed is still compressed, roll-packed and shipped in a box. How does this practice impact the integrity of the coils, and how long should the sleeper for the bed to fully recover?
Roll packing our mattress has no negative impact on the coils at all. In general it takes about an hour for our mattress to expand 90-95% of the way and then an additional 24 hours or so for that last 5% to kick in. That being said, it is perfectly fine to sleep on the bed the first night you receive it.
Without question there is higher quality materials in the Winkbeds than many mattresses that fall under that $1,000 sweet spot, how do you convince prospective customers that it is in their best interest to spend a little more to get that quality?
There is a very large market of people who prioritize quality first, so it doesn’t take all that much convincing. Our customers typically compare WinkBeds to much more expensive mattresses such as the Simmons Beautyrest Black line or the Heavenly Bed (which can cost upwards of $4,000), not the lower end mattresses online. The phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind here and our customers are aware of that.
The mattress is available in four different firmness levels. What is the best method for the consumer to attempt to understand what firmness level is right for their body composition and sleep preferences before they purchase? The last thing either party wants to deal with is returns, so how your customer service team work to educate the consumer?
I think our website does a pretty good job explaining the differences. If someone is looking looking for more information though, we have a dedicated US based team that is happy to jump on the phone or answer any questions via email or live chat. Our team is very friendly and unlike other companies they don’t read off of or use “sales scripts.” You’ll get a real person on the phone who is excited to have a conversation with you.
Being properly supported to keep your spine in alignment is of the utmost importance when looking for a new mattress. For those heavier weighted sleepers out there, the Winkbed Plus, looks to be a great solution. Can you walk the readers through the makeup of the Winkbed Plus, and who it might work best for?
The WinkBed Plus is the first luxury mattress designed for people in heavier weight ranges (around or over 300lbs). It features high density “impression-proof” foams, a 7-zone latex support layer for responsiveness, and a patented 3-zone TexasQUAD support coil for maximum back support and long-term durability. In a simulation of 20 years of bed use by a 350 lb sleeper, the Plus by WinkBeds retained 99.2% of its loft and 98% of its firmness, which is a truly outstanding result. We repeat this test periodically to ensure long term consistency and reliability.
It will work best for people who are at or around 300 lbs or for people who are in lower weight ranges that want a firm and supremely durable bed.
For many readers out there, finding a mattress online might feel overwhelming. What do you think are the most common misconceptions out there regarding online mattress shopping?
A lot of people think a mattress is supposed to break down after a few years at which time they are supposed to replace it. This is a big misconception that was driven by physical retail stores trying to set low expectations for the products they were selling. If you buy a good mattress that is built the right way that mattress can last a very long time.
The online sleep world has been something intriguing to follow over the past three years, where do you see things heading in the next two to three years in the space?
The consumer is going to continue to win. Shoppers now have better choices, better experiences, better trial periods and warranties, and the price for quality has come down substantially. So overall I think innovation in the space has been a huge win for the people and that is going to continue.