Posted: Sat 23rd Jul 2022
Síne Dunne is the founder of Siest Sleep, a business that makes weighted pillows for sleep. In December 2020, she successfully completed a Kickstarter funding campaign, raising €23,044 for her company.
Previous to entrepreneurship Síne worked in sales for Google but is now full-time in the business.
As part of Enterprise Nation's Access to Finance programme, we asked business founders to tell us about their experiences of getting funding. Here, Síne kindly shares Siest Sleep’s story, in conversation with Fiona Alston.
We had an away day with Google which was ‘Eat Sleep Love’ and they brought in this amazing sleep consultant. I’d never been so floored by how little I knew about something – I was just absolutely blown away by the lack of knowledge of something that we do every night.
That was in 2019 and since then I just became sleep-obsessed. I started researching, learning and just digesting any piece of information I could find. Personally, I hadn’t been sleeping well as we had a two-year-old at the time.
I tried weighted blankets, but they were too heavy for me, and they didn’t work for my partner either – they were very hot and claustrophobic. So, I thought why not come up with something better?
I started designing the prototype, did a lot of market testing and that’s how I came up with the product.
As a family, we try to live as sustainably as possible. And, also, sustainability for me is about the people who are involved in the materials for these products.
I was really thoughtful about finding materials that had been made by happy people and that had the lowest footprint on the planet. I sourced a lot of different types of materials and did loads of research on them. What drew me to Lenzing Tencel is that it remains fresh and cool during the night. It’s very luxurious.
The internal fabrics and fibres I sourced from Europe or the UK. I did need it incredibly high-quality, obviously, adhering to all the European standards. And I wanted the least amount of plastic. The products are filled with rounded glass beads rather than plastic.
As a family, we were using the prototypes and we realised this was a product that worked. I had some made up and I sent them out to various people to test.
And then I decided I needed to test it further, outside of family and friends. I had to see if people actually wanted to buy it. I thought the best way to do that was through crowdfunding.
In that one step you get market research, you get funding, and you retain 100% equity. All of these things are incredibly important.
I had invested in projects in the past on Kickstarter – often female-led businesses that had creative ideas. Not investing huge sums but just investing in things I thought were innovative, trying to do something new. It’s an amazing space in which to excite your mind about new possibilities and creative thinking.
I’ve always had an affinity with Kickstarter. What drew me to it for my own funding is that it’s very product-focused. If you have an innovative product that hasn’t been seen before, that’s the place for you.
I think the best way to approach funding, for something that is completely brand new, is to work with a mindset or a marketplace that recognises innovations, is inspired by them and most importantly wants to invest in these types of products.
I didn’t offer any ‘rewards’ other than my product on the platform. Often, people will have decided to offer other products such as maybe a sleep spray or mugs, but I decided not to. If people pledged over €150, they received my product. I raised over €23,000 in capital with a 20-day campaign.
I was lucky to know someone who had already run a successful campaign. You need to factor in several things – your reward pricing model, distribution, and the 5% fee to Kickstarter if your campaign is successful.
You also need to make it very clear when people are going to receive their products. So, I’m happy to give advice to anyone who would like to get in touch with me.
I used the money to invest in the manufacturing of the product and set up the website. I also had enough feedback from people who adored the product to know it was the right thing to do to launch Siest Sleep. I launched at the end of January 2021.
Yes. The business is self-funding, so it’s growing organically at the moment. I’d say maybe next year we’ll look at financing the business in a different way. At the moment, I maintain 100% equity.
We’ve just launched a new website and started our summer sale.
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