Inspired by a trip to Richard Branson’s island, Leesa beds down for international growth

The business, which offers customers a huge 100-night free trial of a mattress, has primarily been self-funded but in July secured $9m of capital from private equity firm TitleCard Capital ? which includes celebrity investors such as US chat show host Jimmy Kimmel and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine.

?We?re profitable so we haven?t touched that money yet. We?ll use it when we really need to seriously grow,? Wolfe said. ?The celebrity involvement also gives us an opportunity to tap into it for marketing purposes. It would give us great influence if these celebrities talked about using our mattresses on their show or via social media.? Some of the cash will likely drive international expansion.

Leesa recently launched a UK office in Manchester with a manufacturing facility in Glossop. It is also eyeing up Canada and continental Europe as its next markets.

?Our growth strategy is based around local manufacturing. We will also transfer our social work abroad. I am currently talking to potential charity partners in the UK,? he said.

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Of course it already has international experience with Wolfe and Hayes trip to Necker.

Both men said they learned as much from other mentors on the island such as entrepreneurs Tim Ferriss, Marie Forleo, Seth Godin, and Daymond John than Branson.

So what nuggets did they take away?

?I learned about creating space for your employees, giving them autonomy and the room to make mistakes. With that they can do things they did not think they were capable of doing,? Hayes recalled.

Wolfe agreed: ?I?m going to empower my team more and give them more resources.?

Regarding customers, Hayes said Leesa will look to use ?early adopters? to promote its brand more in the future. ?Early adopters are inherently trustful as they want to use new technology whereas the mass-market has much lower trust. We want the early guys to share the positives of our brand with the masses,? he explained.

It will also look to improve its customer experience and deepen its customer relationship.

?We?re going to improve our website and put more video content on there such as the charity work we are doing. That could help put us over the edge when customers are thinking of buying from us,? he said.

Another lesson from Daymond John resonated with Hayes. ?He said operate your company like you are broke, as one of the biggest reasons for failure is over-funding. Don?t spend your cash frivolously.?

For Wolfe he learned more in that week than in his entire career. He added: ?I have a love of learning. I?ve had it since I was young.?

And what of Branson?s golden advice?

?He talked about having humility, of giving back but never in a patronising way and to be a great leader and never speak ill of other people,? Wolfe said. ?He talked about being David against Goliath and how focusing on the consumer and the product helped Virgin Atlantic against BA. He said break the rules, be fearless and don?t tie your staff up with red tape or unnecessary approvals.

“I met Richard Branson!”

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