Salt Lake City
Industry: Lifestyle & Consumer
Firm and soft: Founder Robert Rasmussen's quest for the perfect mattress challenges conventional wisdom.
Before starting IntelliBED, Rasmussen worked with a R&D company seeking to find a replacement for the foam utilized by the mattress industry.
"Everyone knows that foam is the weak leak in mattresses," Rasmussen says. "Foam breaks down. Working together for four or five years, we were able to come up with a gel matrix. I negotiated and bought the rights to the gel matrix and started IntelliBED."
According to Rasmussen, the gel matrix provides proper alignment and support. "After a night's sleep, you are not waking up with pain," he explains. "The trick is to provide back support while not allowing your hips to sag in. When gravity pulls your hips down into a regular mattress, your body forms a hammock shapes which leads to the destabilization of the spine and back pain. You need pressure on your hips so you don't sink but something that is comfortable enough that you are not tossing and turning all night. IntelliBED reconciles the two needs: the need for alignment support so that you are properly supported and pressure relief so that you are not interrupting your sleep cycle. We are firm and soft at the same time."
In fact, IntelliBED advertises itself as the first "and" bed: a bed which is a compromise for people looking for firm and soft. "That message has really resonated with people who struggle with their sleep," Rasmussen says.
The gel itself is formed into a grid pattern so that it does not compress like foam. "It compresses where it needs to in order to provide support but also collapses on broader surfaces to provide comfort," Rasmussen explains.
Rasmussen purchased the rights to manufacture the gel, as well as the manufacturing patent. "Our machine squirts the gel, and it is heated to the point where it becomes liquid. Then it is molded, cooled, and extracted. The manufacturing process is very different from any other process out there," Rasmussen says.
"Our ingredients for our gel and all of our materials are domestic," Rasmussen adds. "And everything is assembled here in Utah. It is truly a 'Made in the USA' product."
Today, a majority of all IntelliBED products are sold online. "We also have a call center where people call and purchase a mattress over the phone," Rasmussen says. IntelliBED also has partnerships with doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors on whom they rely on for referrals.
"We are also in the process of going wholesale," Rasmussen adds. "The traditional bedding and retail stores are where we are headed, and we see ourselves getting into a number of those locations soon. It's a challenge to be exclusively online. When someone buys a $3,000 to $4,000 product, they want to see it, experience it, and try it out. Getting into more stores is our future."
Challenges: Education. Rasmussen believes that the internet has created noise in the mattress industry. "Everyone is claiming the same thing. Consumers do not know who to believe," he says. "We have to cut through the noise and try to inspire confidence and show the consumer that we are really telling the truth. Our promises and messages may be the same, but our product is very different."
Opportunities: New distribution channels. IntelliBED has new agreements with QVC and Sam's Club as well as a mattress buying group which represents retailers throughout the country. "We are also working with hotel chains and looking at partnerships to get our beds in their locations. Expanding distribution is on the top of our list."
Needs: Capital. "We need to attract the right group to provide growth capital so that IntelliBED can become the company it deserves to be," says Rasmussen. "It deserves to be a big player in the community."