Scott Paladini grew up in the bedding industry.
His father, William, was a longtime executive in the sector before starting his own company.
So it only made sense that Paladini would do the same, opening a mattress outlet in Bernardsville in 2012 called Hibernate Bedding.
Paladini, however, wasn’t satisfied. So in 2014, he started doing research for designing his own mattress.
Paladini wanted to create a direct-to-consumer active lifestyle brand focused on helping athletes and active people recover faster and improve performance through sleep products.
Bear Mattress was born.
The mattress, Paladini explained, is a memory foam mattress combined with a third-party technology, Celliant.
The combination, Paladini said, makes all the difference.
“It’s a responsive technology that takes a little mineral that’s woven into a fiber and takes your body heat and recycles it back as infrared light,” he said. “What infrared light does is help oxygenate your blood and improve your performance and muscle recovery.”
With less than a year on the market, Hoboken-based Bear Mattress is eyeing the $1 million revenue benchmark.
Biz in brief
Company: Bear Mattress
Founder: Scott Paladini
One more thing: Because of legalities, Bear Mattress cannot actually take back any returned mattresses. Any mattress that is returned to the company is either donated to charity or recycled.
“It’s not there yet, but it’s very close,” Paladini said. “It’s been about 40 percent growth month over month.”
According to Paladini, his lifelong “indoctrination” into the industry helped guide him as he was looking to build this new brand.
“We had talked with some experts in the industry, foam guys and fabric guys,” he said. “We were really looking for smart technology and came across Celliant.”
Paladini’s initial reaction to the Celliant technology was skeptical, saying it seemed like a gimmick. That was until Celliant was able to produce the research to back up its product.
“They’ve done nine clinical studies,” he said. “And we’re not the only ones that use it, but we’re the only ones that use it at this price point.”
That price point, Paladini is happy to say, means every product is under $1,000. The company’s smallest bed, its twin, is available for $500, while its California king, the largest mattress it offers, costs $950.
A mixture of foams
While the marquee technology for Bear Mattress is the product it licenses from Celliant, the mattress is a mixture of several different foams that also serve various purposes, according to founder Scott Paladini.
“We have different foams that help more with spinal alignment, pressure relief, reduced motion transfer — which is, if you’re moving, your partner doesn’t move — and all that stuff leads to a better night’s sleep,” he said. “That’s going to help enhance your overall performance.”
“Besides cutting out the retail middle man, where I can be the manufacturer and retailer so there’s not the wholesale markup, we looked at a number of different things, including the foams we use, negotiating good supply contracts and talking with UPS about bringing down that cost,” he said.
Paladini recognizes that millennials want a quality product at a minimal cost, but he also understands they’re not looking to necessarily come into a store to purchase their mattress.
So his company will ship the product right to the consumer.
“We compress it down and ship it in a box that’s the size of a mini fridge, UPS brings it right to your door and then it opens up and expands out,” he said.
Customers are then given 100 nights to test the mattress and with the option of receiving a full refund if it doesn’t perform as advertised.
All in the family
With more than 20 years in the mattress industry, the Paladini family now has mattress outlet locations throughout the state, including Princeton Mattress, Sussex Mattress in Newton and New Jersey Mattress in Ledgewood.
The family also operates a chain of five stores in Naples, Florida.
“It was really important to build the product right because of our return policy, because this business model only works when people love it and they don’t want to return it,” he said.
Knowing this, a maximum return rate was written into the business model. The company aimed to keep returns at 10 percent, recognizing it could probably sustain itself at a return rate as high as 15 percent.
But the company has hit that mark and then some. Not wanting to give the exact rate of return, Paladini said, “It’s very low; it’s in the single digits.”
And with the validation of his product and business model, his family has stepped in to take control of his retail outlet to allow him to completely focus on Bear Mattress.
“My store has been acquired by my family and they’re now running those on an operational basis so I can focus 100 percent on this,” he said.
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