Wink & Nod - Blessing The Country With A Peaceful Sleep!

As correctly said “the richest man in the world is the man who can sleep in peace at night.” With the fast and hectic lifestyle of modern times, the importance of quality sleep has become more essential. With the same vision, Sandeep Prasad launched Wink & Nod in 2018.

Wink & Nod is an innovative sleep-focused company that is driven by a vision to create a one-stop brand that caters to the sleeping needs of the modern Indian consumer. As a company, it understands the importance of quality sleep in today’s stress heavy world, hence it wants to become a trailblazer in the sleep industry in the Indian market. Keeping in line with this, the company focuses on using the best quality and non-toxic fabrics and materials by certifications like CertiPUR-US® for foam and Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 for fabrics.

Most of Wink & Nod’s targeted consumers lie between the age of late twenties to late forties and belong to the working class. With an increase in stress levels and long working hours, people aren’t able to find the time to focus on sleep. Wink & Nod intends to provide the same and at the same time eliminate the hassle of shopping for these products by providing online options to choose from and delivering them to the customer’s home.

Wink & Nod - Company Highlights

Startup Name Wink & Nod
Headquarter Pune
Sector eCommerce
Founders Sandeep Prasad
Founded January 2018
Parent Organization Ultra Decor Pvt Ltd
Website www.winknod.com

About Wink & Nod and How it Works
Wink & Nod - Target Market Size
Founders of Wink & Nod and team
How was Wink & Nod Started?
Wink & Nod - Name, Tagline, and Logo
Wink & Nod - Startup Launch
Wink & Nod - Business Model and Revenue Model
Wink & Nod - Startup Challenges
Wink & Nod - Competitors
Wink & Nod - Funding and Investors
Wink & Nod - Growth
Wink & Nod - Awards

About Wink & Nod and How it Works

Wink & Nod’s vision is to create a one-stop brand that caters to all sleep needs of a consumer, a brand that resonates with sleep and redefines the overall sleep experience of the user. Apart from mattresses, this firm also sells bed sheets, pillows, comforters, and other sleep accessories. The products are not only aesthetically pleasant by looks and amazing to feel, but also are non-toxic, affordable, and are backed by innovative technology.

The shift from traditional players to Wink & Nod will be gradual but is something that people are willing to do once they understand the products and the value it holds. A mattress has typically been a low-involvement product and has been seen as something that is placed on top of your bed. The consumer adapts to the idea when he understands that a mattress is a place where the average person spends one-third of their life and that they can actually help improve their sleep.

To get the consumers aligned to this thinking, Wink & Nod provides them a 100-day trial on the mattresses, earning the most crucial element behind a product’s success - their trust in the product. Nobody likes change, but some changes are for good, and that is what this company wishes the consumers to understand. Before starting any marketing activity, Wink & Nod dives into the customer personas, map their behavior, how they spend their day, and understand why they require a product like this.

“We try to be in these touchpoints via various modes of communications, experimenting on offline activities and focusing on customer engagement.” Said Sandeep Prasad.

Additionally, Wink & Nod has tried to shift from the conventional notion of mattress purchasing as a tedious task, and have made the process enjoyable for the consumers. For customers who are confused about buying which kind of mattress, it has dedicated sleep experts who assist them with the right mattress based on their needs. Wink & Nod, as a brand, connect with millennials. The content used for communications follows a quirky-fun tonality focusing on maximum consumer engagement. So even if they do not purchase the product, they still always remember about Wink & Nod.  

Not to forget, Wink & Nod follows a personalized and unique packaging style with the aim of providing a delightful experience to the customers. The Wink & Nod team understood the gap in logistics in India and worked towards solving it. Hence, even something as large as a mattress gets delivered packed inside a box, and at the same time gives the customers a joy of unboxing it.

Wink & Nod - Target Market Size

The existing mattress market is pegged at a total size of around US $1.5 Billion, and growing 10% year-on-year. While most mattress buying has traditionally been from the unorganized sector, the split between the two segments is around 50-50 as of now. This is largely driven by a few offline brands driving the industry. Within the organized segment - the online space, which has become active in the last 4-5 years, occupies ~10% of the segment (i.e, 5% of the industry).

However, Wink & Nod is looking to position ourselves as a one-stop-solution for all sleep-related products. This is a much bigger market, roughly estimated at the US $5 Billion. It includes sleeping accessories like pillows, mattress protectors /toppers, etc. A significant portion is comprised of the bed and linen sector which is pegged at around the US $3 billion.

The industry is in its initial years of technology disruption and is undergoing rapid developments. The market is expected to shift from 5% eCommerce to 30-35% eCommerce in the next few years. With 4-5 new-age brands co-existing in the market, each brand can carve out its own specific niche, through their products, services or marketing. These businesses will be online-first direct to consumer brands with some offline presence in terms of experience stores.


Also read: How to find the Target Market for your Startup


Founders of Wink & Nod and team

Wink&Nod Founder, Sandeep Prasad
Wink&Nod Founder, Sandeep Prasad

The Core Team at Wink & Nod consists of the following members:

  • Sandeep Prasad: Sandeep is the founder and CEO at Wink & Nod. He is a former VC investor who keeps a keen eye on operations and growth. Sandeep earlier worked as an investment banker in New York, a strategy professional in Chicago and as a consultant in Pittsburgh. These high-pressure jobs made him recognize the value of a good night’s sleep.
  • Vishal Mundhra: Vishal is the CTO and go-to guy for all technology-related issues of Wink & Nod. He is a business-technology entrepreneur and an advisor to global businesses. His past experiences include being a product manager and the head of the user experience group at TIBCO Software. In this role, he led large scale business transformation initiatives for Fortune 1000 companies.
  • Aditya Labroo: Aditya is the COO at Wink & Nod, and a former investment associate at Guild Capital, a US-based early-stage Venture Capital Firm. His experience of the startup life also comes from being a founder at FairFrog, a niche online marketplace. Aditya was also an options trader at the Dutch firm Optiver, based out of Amsterdam.
  • Keerthi Balakumar: Keerthi is the brilliant mind behind all products at Wink & Nod. He is a former Innovation Manager at AB InBev India who was dealing with their fine portfolio of alcoholic products often left him yearning for a comfortable place to sleep off after long days at work.
  • Ankit Raj: Ankit is the CMO at Wink & Nod and he is responsible for all marketing activities at Wink & Nod. Armed with deep insights into consumer’s persona and consumer behavior, he ensures that Wink & Nod is heard amongst the masses and then slept on by the masses.

How was Wink & Nod Started?

All of this began with working for a VC fund in Florida, which focused on investments in nascent-stage consumer brands. Working as the COO of a luxury eCommerce watch company as part of the VC fund, Sandeep saw a steady rise in the US and European based startups that were completely disrupting the mattress and sleep market by bringing products like mattresses and pillows from offline channels to online channels. Additionally, seeing innovation in the products spiked his interest.

The catalyst to start the business was the pursuit of his parents for a good mattress. “They spent more than three weeks in this quest and ended up buying a mattress for a hefty sum of Rs 30,000. Upon asking my mother what mattress she had purchased, she was not very sure. The experience of my parents and the potential opportunities in the Indian mattress industry sparked the idea of building a startup focusing on sleep.” Said the founder Sandeep!

A rigorous analysis of the market followed by this experience of his parents made him quit his job. Sandeep raised capital from his boss and utilized it to build the platform. A college friend of his, Vishal assisted in building the website. A fellow worker from his previous company had some contacts in Hong Kong and helped him with the required sourcing partners. Furthermore, Vishal had some contacts in design and warehousing companies from Mumbai. After coming back to India, Sandeep teamed up with a few people from the eCommerce and logistics sector and went on to launch Wink & Nod.

The name Wink & Nod was finalized after careful consideration and elimination process. The idea was to come up with a name in which people could relate to sleep, and at the same, had to give the name a second thought to perceive the meaning of it. This would create that extra moment of consideration in their mind, giving it just the right time to make some space and rest in mind. Additionally, it needed to speak to the Millenials in their tone. So, Wink & Nod is a subtle take on the fact that when one is feeling sleepy, the head starts nodding, the eyes start winking.

Wink & Nod - Startup Launch

Sandeep connected with his network of the ecosystem of mattress suppliers at the start of his entrepreneurial journey. Then, it was mostly about testing an MVP in the market and making quick iterations based on feedback. He reached out to his contacts, friends, and relatives and also started spending slowly on social media. The initial traction was slow but he realized that whenever he spoke to the customer, he/ she would definitely go ahead and buy. So, Sandeep set up an in-house lead generation and lead conversion process, wherein he had a couple of people who would call and convert customers along with him. This gave Wink & Nod the initial boost to reach the first 100 customers and test out the MVP.

“Speaking to the customer directly also gave me more insights into what customers wanted. This helped us nail the product-market fit in our subsequent iterations.” Says Sandeep.

Since its inception, Wink & Nod’s primary focus is to provide consumers with comfortable quality sleep at an affordable rate. And it has been successful in doing the same. With certifications like CertiPUR-US® for foam and Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 for fabrics, Wink & Nod ensures that only the best reaches the consumers. Another attraction for the company has been the wide range of product offerings, which cater to all sleep requirements in a bedroom. These products include mattresses, pillows, bedsheets, comforters, towels, sleep spray, amongst many others. With constant innovation and the addition of new products in the portfolio, this venture has had the constant attention of its customers.

“We are in a slew of launching an Ayurveda mattress with the sole intention of providing a quality sleep using all-natural materials. Lastly, as mentioned earlier, solving the logistical issues that come with purchasing a mattress by delivering the mattress in a box also attracted a large customer base for us,” added Sandeep.

Wink & Nod - Business Model and Revenue Model

The business model of Wink & Nod is that of a direct-to-customer eCommerce brand. The unit economics is a first-order profitable one, which means that it doesn’t need a high repeat rate to get profitable on a unit customer level. Additionally, it has forayed into several accessories and is witnessing a significant number of repeat purchasers. Products like pillows, comforters, bedsheets, and towels are doing extremely well. Compared to similar products in the market with the same specifications and quality, these products are priced fairly, keeping in mind the Indian consumers.

For instance, a mattress ranges between Rs 4000 - Rs 42000 depending on the thickness and dimensions. Since Wink & Nod sources it directly from manufacturers and sells to the customers, it can pass on the cost advantage to customers. Secondly, logistics is another high cost for traditional mattress companies, since mattresses are bulky products. Wink & Nod delivers the mattresses in compact vacuum-sealed boxes which saves costs in transportation as well as storage. Hence, further reducing the cost and passing it as a benefit directly to the customer.

Being an online consumer brand, it doesn’t have to absorb high fixed costs and overheads concerning offline stores or shell out high retailer margins. All these efficiencies in the business model of the company enable it to use the best quality raw materials and a superior quality product at an affordable price. All these factors set Wink & Nod apart from others since all the materials are internationally certified and safe to use.


Also read: Business Model of OLA


Wink & Nod - Startup Challenges

The major challenge as a company for Wink & Nod was solving the fragmented and unorganized logistics in India for a product like theirs. In case a mishap occurs, the consumer always holds the company selling it accountable rather than the delivery service. Hence, the team had to solve this issue at a two-fold level. They went on to build a very strong customer support infrastructure to assist customers throughout the post-purchase process. The infrastructure includes people as well as tools to provide shipping support to customers. Additionally, they innovated the packaging of the product by providing our consumers with products as large as a mattress packed inside a box.

Wink & Nod - Competitors

Talking about the Indian market, which is where Wink & Nod’s focus is now, some of the competitors in the space are Wakefit, SleepyCat, etc. apart from the traditional incumbent ones like Sleepwell, Kurl On, etc. Each of these companies has carved out its own niche positioning in the space and hence is not directly competing for the same set of customers at the same time. The fact that Wink & Nod’s vision is to build a sleep-focused brand rather than a mattress brand, differentiates it from several competitors in the market. “We have launched about 15 products in a span of two years - more than any other brand in this space. Each product has its own learning curve in terms of R&D, product-market fit, supply chain complexity, etc.” Says Sandeep.

With each successful product in the portfolio, Wink & Nod’s competitiveness as a sleep brand increases exponentially and at the same time, it has a differentiated offering from the rest of the mattress players. When it comes to the products, each of Wink & Nod’s products has something unique in it - that’s the company’s core product innovation philosophy. For example, it’s Emperia mattress (the premium mattress) has a proprietary cool-touch cover which is not available anywhere else in India. Secondly, its Carbon pillow, with the charcoal-infused memory foam is another product that is being sold only by Wink & Nod. On a more generic level, it’s products really differ in terms of the materials with the highest quality, supreme safety, and internationally certified materials.

Wink & Nod - Funding and Investors

Wink & Nod has raised two rounds of seed funding from Guild Capital, a US-based VC firm. Currently, it is looking to raise a Series A round.


Also read: Database of recently funded Indian Startups


Wink & Nod - Growth

  • Growing at a monthly rate of 5-10%
  • Consistent monthly improvement in marketing efficiency
  • Reduced our overall customer acquisition cost
  • Launched a line of sleep based products
  • Team size has grown from 2 to 25 plus in 18 months
  • Available on major e-commerce websites like Amazon, Paytm Mall, amongst others.
  • Two experience stores in Pune
  • A new product line launching soon

Wink&Nod - Awards and Recognition

  • One of Top 10 startups in Wharton Startup Challenge
  • Listed amongst the ET top 50 (or top 100) startups

Apart from this, Wink & Nod has had various feature articles in magazines and papers like TOI, Business World, among others.

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About Vidhi Punamiya

  • Mumbai
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