With the Caspers and Tuft & Needles of the world--not to mention more than 220 other online-focused brands--it's getting increasingly tough to stand out in the mattress-selling business.  

Parachute--a Los Angeles-based direct-to-consumer startup that makes bedding, towels, and other home essentials--is betting its brand has what it takes. On January 17, Parachute is debuting its own mattress line. 

"We want to promise comfort and to own more of that bedroom experience," says Parachute's founder and CEO, Ariel Kaye. "We think our mattress will do it in a different way that is unique."

Following thousands of customer requests seeking mattress recommendations, the company, founded in 2014, spent the past couple of years figuring out what its unique "take" on the mattress would be. Parachute had been talking with customers in their stores, deploying customer surveys, and interacting with its private Facebook group to find out exactly what its fans would want in a mattress. Kaye says those early conversations meant that when the company finally developed the prototypes--personally tested by more than two dozen employees, friends, and investors--Parachute didn't have to make many changes beyond tweaking the placement of the mattresses' coils for ergonomic support. 

To differentiate its product in a highly saturated $28 billion market, Parachute is betting it will win on two key features: the mattress is eco-friendly and it uses premium materials. The foam-free mattress has "micro-coils"--short, soft, small-diameter coils that give a feel similiar to memory foam or latex. The interior features 100 percent organic cotton and New Zealand wool that contains no chemical flame retardants and that Parachute says is "all-natural, sustainable, hypoallergenic."

Parachute's mattress comes in only one level of firmness--medium--which Kaye says is widely recommended by doctors and appeals to most people. 

The quality comes at a premium price: mattresses range from $1,299 to $2,199. Casper's and Tuft & Needle's mattresses start at $350; Amazon's starts at $279. Kaye says Parachute's customers tend to be people who are settling down, investing more in their home interiors, and looking for high-quality, durable furnishings. 

"This is a mattress that two to three years is not going to be moved to the guest room," says Kaye.

Like other direct-to-consumer mattress brands, Parachute offers free delivery and will dispose of your old mattress. For now the company won't stock the beds in stores, though customers will be able to see them on display. Parachute has stores in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Portland, and will open one this year in Chicago.

Parachute, which has raised $45 million in venture capital to date, is not the first startup to focus on ecofriendly mattresses. Other companies already in this niche include Nest Bedding, Naturepedic, and Ecoterra. Michael Magnuson, founder of independent mattress consumer resource GoodBed, says Parachute is going to need to build up a significant amount of positive reviews and testimonials as it grows to enjoy the kind of successful word-of-mouth marketing that contributed to Tuft & Needle's success. 

Still, Parachute's established brand could give it an edge. The company "already [has] an audience of people who are thinking about this part of their life," Magnuson says. "That gives them something that they bring that is different and unique," he says.

Published on: Jan 17, 2019