Sheets & Giggles (www.sheetsgiggles.com) is the brainchild of successful entrepreneur Colin McIntosh, a bed sheet company that is making the bedroom fun again, while also helping to make the world a better place!While the name stands out at first, once you dive deeper into the “sheet”, you will quickly notice that Sheets & Giggles use 96% less water than cotton sheets, which translates to people using 30% less energy to wash their sheets. Also, compared to other brands, these sheets are naturally softer than cotton (lower surface friction, higher smoothness rating), more breathable, and they evaporate moisture better than cotton (better for hot sleepers, has a higher moisture management rating). Above all, these sheets are hypoallergenic, zero static, and lower surface friction, and get softer after each wash.
The Levity Ball sat down with the CEO / former Norwalk, CT resident Colin to learn more about how he is “getting sheet done”…
1. To start off: When did you first know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
- I’ve always been an extremely hard worker, but putting 12+ hours a day in for someone else’s company can be endlessly frustrating. You don’t own any of the value you’re creating, and you don’t really have decision-making power, which was always hard for me to swallow. In summer 2015, I went through Techstars Boulder (a premier accelerator program) with a company I was on the Founding Team of, but not a “Founder” specifically. That summer was the moment in time I decided I would one day start a company all of my own, and I finally made the plunge with S&G.
2. From working at Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, to now your own bedding company… how has the change been?
- It’s intensely different. At Bridgewater, while there are loads of incredibly talented, smart people, there are few who are indispensable. As a 22-year-old, I didn’t feel like I was making an impact at all. At the time, I also wasn’t really cut out for the culture there – it’s incredibly cutthroat, and I don’t know if I made a single friend at the company. I got fired in 6 months! It ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me, and Bridgewater is the last organization that I’ve worked with that has more than 30 people. It taught me that I wanted a lot more responsibility, and quickly, and small companies and startups are the way to go if you’re similarly inclined. I wrote my first business plan (for a wearable tech startup) at 23, and by the time I was 25, I was negotiating deals for that business with major retailers and partners across the US. At 27, I opened up S&G to channel everything I had learned into my own company.
3. Sheets & Giggles is the highest crowd-funded bedding/sheet company ever… How do you think you accomplished this?
- I think the major reason for our success so far is really simple: we treat people like we want to be treated. We respond to Facebook comments in minutes; we take phone calls at 11pm; we get back to emails within an hour. People see that, and they decide they trust us and want to give us their business. As an example, they can see how we interact with people on our Facebook ads, and I think they’re clicking through to our website with the intent to purchase rather than to just learn more. Building trust is key, and we do it by admitting mistakes, being extremely transparent, responding to everyone that writes or calls, and just having fun with our community. I mean we even buy free pizza for someone every week for literally no reason other than that I always wanted a company to do random nice things like that for me. Sure, our eucalyptus sheets are amazing and super-soft and breathable and sustainable (gotta get that product plug in), but there’s no reason to think that we’ll forever be the only people selling these, so really we focus on creating an exceptional customer experience every time someone engages with us. We’ve even helped dozens of customers find new jobs because it’s a nice thing to do.
4. You describe your product as a “Hot sleeper’s dream”… why is this? What sets your sheets a part from other brands on the market?
- Eucalyptus lyocell is just on another level when it comes to breathability and moisture management. It absorbs and evaporates moisture better than cotton, so if you sweat at night, it wicks it away, and the sheets themselves are far more breathable than both cotton and microfiber / polyester. I grew up in South Florida where sometimes a top sheet was even too hot to sleep with, and one of the core reasons I chose eucalyptus as our base fiber for our fabric was the breathability benefit (along with all the eco-friendly aspects like our much-lower water usage than cotton sheets).
5. You are also all about giving back and have launched a #Give2Sheets program. Tell us more about this program!
- We include a return mailer in every order for people to send us their old, now extraneous sheets. We pay for shipping, and we then donate those sheets every week to a partnered homeless shelter in Colorado. As a thank-you for their donation, we send people 10% off codes for future orders just because they’re awesome and helped someone out with their donation. As another part of our desire to make a social impact, we also plant a tree for every order in an area in the US that needs reforestation!
6. What is the best advice you have been given while pursuing this company?
- Focus on building a sustainable and profitable business model that generates revenue and profit right away. Once you do that, you can add new products, scale the business, raise money, etc., but from day 1 we’ve been focused on building something that had staying power. Too many founders build a product first, and then try to build a business around that “thing,” and oftentimes founders are loathe to adjust their product vision in the face of market feedback or rejection. We did a lot of market and customer research and surveys before we ever designed a single product, and then we built exactly what people asked us to. By the time we launched our Indiegogo, we were confident we had exactly what people were looking for, right down to which 5 launch colors we picked.
7. Will you be launching and selling your products in New York in the future?
- Yes, we already do! Both on SheetsGiggles.com and on Amazon (Amazon goes live this October). We may eventually have a storefront presence – we actually unfortunately had to pass on a couple holiday retail opportunities (it’s just too early for physical retail for us). If anyone out there is reading this and thinking about bringing a product into physical retail stores… email me and I’ll tell you a few things to watch out for!
8. Do you ever get to come out to New York personally? If so, where are some of your favorite places to hang, eat, etc.?
- Yes, all the time. I used to live in Norwalk, CT when I worked at Bridgewater, and I used to take Metro North to Manhattan almost every other week. I have a ton of great friends in NYC and try to see them every time I’m in town. Brooklyn is probably the spot I’m most comfortable in, and I tend to go wherever my friends suggest on any given night – for restaurants and bars, you could throw a dart at a map and find an incredible place in New York.
9. Out of all your products, which is your favorite right now to use?
- The sheets. I also love our comforters – they’re insanely cozy – but there’s nothing like a good set of sheets that makes you happy every night when you slip into bed.
10. And final question: What would you want Sheets & Giggles to be remembered for in years down the road when people look back at your brand’s roots?
- Probably that we made a difference, however small. We pushed some people away from cotton; we donated X,000 sets of sheets to the homeless; we planted hundreds of thousands of trees… and very importantly, we made people laugh. That’s always been our #1 goal from day one: just do what we can to make other people happy. I think if we can keep doing that, we’ll be successful in the long run.