Philip Krim is co-founder and CEO of Casper, which sold $300 million worth of sleep paraphernalia last year, and faces about 100 online mattress competitors. Now it's opening real-world stores. --As told to Maria Aspan

We designed and engineered our product to sleep well--that's it. We didn't design it to sell well on the floor, or to feel good when you sit on it.

But people would knock on our office door and ask to try the mattress. So we designed a "nap mobile" that drove across North America. We did some pop-ups. A series of experiments led to "Let's give stores a try." Last year, we launched a store in San Francisco, some pop-ups in November, and more in December. All are doing way beyond expectations. We now have enough data to believe that we can have a really large brick-and-mortar experience.

We thought people would just lie on the bed and then we'd deliver it. But customers would say, "I'd like to take the bed," and we'd be like, "Uh-oh, we don't have inventory." That forced us to rethink how we build stores--because now we have to keep inventory. Another thing we didn't account for: So many folks were coming that there was a wait to try mattresses in some stores.

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So at our first NYC store, which opened this spring, if the trial beds are occupied, you can touch the fiber that goes into the pillow. There's a wind simulation, where you can touch the sheet to see how air circulates through it. Videos show how products are created. Other experiences, like food and drink, could create the right atmosphere for folks to hang out.

We have 19 locations. In New York, there's a Mattress Firm across the street from one store. I love when people walk into our store and then walk into Mattress Firm. I worry about a lot of things. But confusion between the two is not something I worry about.