Posted: Fri 15th Feb 2019
The latest Enterprise Nation member of the week wants us all to have a good night's sleep. Helen Powell is the founder of Mode Beds, a hybrid of technology and comfort that you can control with your phone. She tells her story below and you can connect with her on Enterprise Nation here.
How did you come up with your business idea?
The idea for Mode came about in 2016 from a desire to help people with their sleeping problems. For some time, I'd been hearing from family and friends about their issues sleeping, bad backs, snoring and general dissatisfaction with their beds and the lack of options available.
After researching the issue further, I discovered that a lot of sleep problems could be solved, or improved, by using an adjustable bed.
However, in the UK these were solely being marketed as a product for the elderly and there was a discouraging stigma around them and so they were not accessible to a younger market.
I wanted to help redefine the way that people viewed their beds from a flat non-interactive platform, to a flexible space designed to move around them.
I wanted to create a bed that gave people the improved support and better sleep that they needed, but also gave them the flexibility to do other popular activities in bed more comfortably, such as watching TV or reading.
From both a sustainability and quality control point of view, I was keen on finding a good supply chain and to manufacture the beds in the UK.
I set up a meeting with a manufacturer and supplier at the Telford Bed Show and pitched them the idea of Mode and as a result established a supportive team with over 50 years' industry experience who loved the concept and were happy to work with me to develop the bed.
In terms of retailing, it's important to me to try and keep the costs of my beds accessible to my customers and so for the time being we only sell our beds online.
What start-up challenges have you faced?
It's very competitive in the furniture industry and it can be difficult to stand out in a busy market place, especially when there are big companies selling low-cost, mass-produced imported products, which aren't really built to stand the test of time and can create a bit of a 'disposable' attitude towards furniture.
Selling great quality furniture, manufactured in the UK and incorporating the latest technology is going to come with a higher price tag, so it's important to communicate this effectively with our customers.
While people are becoming more comfortable with buying beds and mattresses online, these are 'considered' purchases still. With that in mind, we have to be 100% sure of the quality of our beds and offer free delivery as well as good returns and warranty terms to build trust with our customers.
From a personal point of view, someone once told me that 'working for yourself makes the highs, higher and the lows, lower' and I've found that to be fairly accurate!
Running your own business can mean you are more emotionally connected to it and that can make it both rewarding and challenging at the same time.
At the end of the day though the challenges are what makes business exciting and the freedom of working for yourself and doing what you love makes it all worthwhile.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Successfully taking something from a concept all the way through to launching a new product in the UK.
It was a long process and a lot of time went into research, design, testing and prototypes, but seeing your ideas come into fruition with a real-life product at the end is amazing.
What is your next big business goal?
We are currently focussed on getting our beds in front of as many people as possible and making sales and we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to promote our beds.
Initially we want to focus on growing a core team to help with the day to day running of the company and the delivery of our marketing strategy to increase our reach.
What will be your biggest business challenge?
Launching a new product on a budget will always be very challenging in terms of both effectively getting it in front of our target market and also educating people on the benefits of a smart bed.
How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?
I really like the inspiring stories from other entrepreneurs in the UK, There are some very interesting businesses around.
Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?
So many different businesses have inspired me on my journey for a number of reasons.
I'm mainly inspired by the diversity and ingenuity of the start-up business community in Bristol. From how people have come up with their ideas and grown their teams, or how they've successfully secured funding, there always seems to be some good news stories out there!
What are your three tips for business success?
Work on your relationships with your suppliers. Outsource wherever it makes sense and view suppliers as an extended part of the team.
Research your market. There's a lot going on and it's very competitive, so be clear on your offering and your target market.
Get some help in setting up your business. There are lots of great business advice services for start-ups that offer access to some brilliant resources and networks.
We're proud to have people like Helen as members of Enterprise Nation. Join Enterprise Nation today and become part of an amazing community of small business owners.