How this sleepy startup got valued at 1 billion dollars.

Nouman A.
4 min readMay 3, 2020

Let’s turn back time to two thousand and fourteen.

Sleep deprivation was having a bit of a moment. Celebrities, CEOs, creatives, 9–5 workers, and millennials started prioritizing their health and wanted to sleep better.

To get a good night's sleep, you need a comfortable mattress, amm duh, but at that time, you would have to go to a mattress store, pick an ok mattress and do the trouble to take it back to your apartment.

No one was shipping the mattress at your door step-it’s too big *ding*

Some smart guy Neil and his friends saw the gap and were set to disrupt the 14 billion dollar mattress industry. Enter Casper.

Get this.

The idea was to create a comfortable queen-size mattress, squeeze it into a box, and ship it directly to the doorstep.

Super unsexy but they went all in.

“We were just, like, racking up debt. We put, like $50,000 to $100,000 on our credit cards, which probably was irresponsible. But, we were all in,” Parikh tells CNBC Make It.

Like all startups, getting an investor on board was a struggle, everyone said it was a dumb idea said Neil but eventually, they found someone crazy enough to invest in their direct-to-consumer business.

Things took off.

Casper hit its yearly 1.8 million sales goal in two months. In 2017, Casper made $340 million from investors like Leonardo DiCaprio. Yep, The Leonardo DiCaprio.

The next year, Casper topped $400 million in annual revenue, valued at a jaw-dropping 1.1 Billion dollars.

Hold it sarge. How did they do it? Let’s discover how this sleepy startup made a fortune selling mattresses online.

Casper started with why.

Let me give you a secret. Before beginning your marketing efforts, answer two questions:

1. Why you’re doing what you are doing?

2. Why should anyone care?

Keep answering them until your whys resonate with a mass majority of people when it makes them feel what they wanna feel. (Simon Sinek's strategy).

Casper’s answer.

1. We want to help you sleep better

2. When you sleep better, you are more productive in your awake time and become a better version of yourself.

This exact Simon Sinek’s secret is what giants like Nike and Apple apply to form an emotional connection with you.

YouTube Marketing

Casper’s ideal audience was the smart savvy millennials who wanted to try new things and be more productive.

They invested in such influencers on YouTube. These influencers made unboxing mattress videos that went viral and spread the word like wildfire.

Why youtube? It’s because youtube is the 2nd biggest search engine out there. Secondly, video marketing is far more effective than any other form of marketing. I would argue that Casper would not have achieved the same exposure without it.

The tweeting mattress.

The goal of social media is to provide value and help your customers become a better version of themselves. Period

e.g if you are a fitness apparel company, motivate your audience to get fit and healthy. More, if you are a mattress company, help your customers understand the importance of sleep.

Posting about “how good your product is” is not value, it’s an ad.

Casper adopted this value-giving strategy from the get-go. In fact, they added quality humor to entertain their sleepy audience and form a connection.

Being different.

CNBC make it.

Unique catches the eye. In fact, standing out from the crowd is one of the strongest desires among humans. More, people want to be part of something different-to and feel special.

Casper took two unique approaches.

1. Choosing a not-so-common advertising platform, subway.

2. Going past cliché ads with cool clever brain teasers.

Celebrity endorsement.

Unsplash @nypl

Come on, when celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kylie Jenner are associated with a brand, it has got to be good. With the capital g.

Casper spent 40k buying Kylie Jenner’s Instagram post.

But it was worth it.

“ Oh my God, when Kylie Jenner posted about Casper I think it broke our website,” says Neil Parikh, one of Casper’s co-founders”

Later, celebrities like 50 CENT, Nas the rapper, DiCaprio, and Ashton Kutcher became brand investors and evangelists.

It’s funny how startups like Casper and Bombas make millions by making people feel good, different, funny, and all that.




Nouman A.

I write about the marketing strategies that made brands millions