Tuck Wakes Up The Mattress IndustryBy Benjamin Seidman on November 17th, 2015 /
Recognized by many in the Detroit entrepreneurial circles as the dynamic Startup Analyst at Bizdom, Brendan Rice, Co-Founder of Tuck, is set to spring an outdated mattress industry up from under its covers. Brendan and his Co-Founder, Russell Suskind, are making this idea a reality by leveraging technology and changing the way that business is done.
“We’re making this 10, 15, 20 times better,” says Rice. Both Venture For America Fellows. Rice and Suskind have sold close to $16,000 in mattresses to date, close to forty Tuck mattresses in total.
Raised in Boulder, Colorado, Brendan caught the bug at an early age from his father who ran an advertising agency. By college, Brendan was running his own student business incubator at the University of Wisconsin.
“That’s what I spent most of my time on,” Rice says, “Trying to support students that had business ideas that wanted to launch their own company. It was so energizing to be around people who were doing something they loved and wanted to make things happen.”
From his experience in entrepreneurial support, he has learned that it’s very different from the outside looking in than from being the one behind the wheel. This has given Brendan a tremendous newfound respect for entrepreneurs.
Brendan never thought to himself that he needed to start his own company but the more he worked with entrepreneurs, whether at Wisconsin or Bizdom, the more he became attuned to “having an eye for opportunity and seeing where it exists” as Rice puts it. When the conversations began getting serious about starting Tuck, the idea to revitalize the unsexy mattress industry with “processes that are very broken” became sexier and sexier. Constantly surrounded by software entrepreneurs, Rice found a company that focuses on beds to be the perfect alternative.
“I can’t wait to jump into my bed at the end of every day. People spend a third of their lives on them,” he said.
When Rice first embarked on this journey, he started digesting articles on the mattress industry. Then, industry reports and scholarly articles. He discovered that in the U.S. alone, the mattress industry is worth over $14B. The old industry standard is to buy stores and expand geographically. Tuck is based on a direct to consumer e-commerce model in which they shorten the supply chain and eliminate the storefronts, salespeople, and enormous advertising budgets. Instead, Tuck simply sells mattresses at fair prices that show up at your front door.
There are a few companies in the space of shipping memory foam mattresses including Casper, Tuff & Needle, but Tuck aims to stand out.
“We see our competitions still as retails stores,” says Rice. “People buy mattresses around life events now, not when their mattress is breaking down.” Moving forward, Tuck plans to offer an additional product line to compliment the mattresses. The actual product is made up of memory gel foam, thought of as higher quality and more breathable. The rest of the mattress is a dense foam core, giving it a firm bounce.
“You can still jump on your bed if you want to,” Rice says, describing their product. . “For me, my bed is a place that I love ending and starting the day with. It brings me safety, comfort, and rejuvenation.”
What draws Rice to the mattress space is his fervent love for his bed. He wants to bring this same experience to the world, this is his vision
But one thing that keeps Rice up at night is his customers. If customers don’t like their product, it will negatively impact their life. Tuck takes that responsibility upon themselves. Tuck sends out surveys, texts, and even calls their customers – and has received almost perfect reviews. Tuck puts immense focus on customer success.
“We look at our customers and ask ourselves – what is the right thing to do?” he said.
At the end of the day, when they retire to bed, Brendan and Russell are two entrepreneurs figuring out how to do right by their customers, in the mattress industry. Rice will sleep sound on his Tuck mattress tonight in Detroit.