Colin McIntosh is the founder and CEO at Sheets and Giggles (awesome business name), which is the fastest growing bedding brand in the USA. It all started in 2018 with a crowdfunding launch, and in the first 12 months they hit $1m in sales.
About the Business
- Located in Denver CO
- Selling in the USA only currently
- expanding to Canada, UK and Australia by end of 2020
- Shopify Platform for 60-70 of sales
- Amazon for all other sales
- Judge.me —Colin loves that it allows you to engage with reviewers
- Advanced Shipping Rules
- Hyper Visual
Sheets and bedding is largely considered to be a pretty boring space. Colin says that is exactly why he wanted to create a fresh and fun brand that would stand out from the crowd. It was Sheets and Giggles that got Colin into eCommerce.
His previous job had given him some limited Amazon experience but it was more focused on building relationships with brick and mortar retailers. Looking back, he recognizes that the timing was off for a retail offering like that and the company didn’t ultimately make it. When the whole team was laid off in 2017, Colin was pretty downtrodden, but within 3 weeks he had his chin up and was diving into the launch of Sheets and Giggles.
Colin knew that the fun spirit of the brand would be a stand out in the bedding industry, but it was also important for him because it marked a major departure from the heavy mission of his last project—which was a wearable technology device to help prevent sexual violence. Regardless of outcome, Colin is grateful for that experience and for what that product accomplished in it’s short lifespan, helping hundreds of potential sexual violence victims escape from dangerous situations.
Sheets and Giggle Mission
Sheets and Giggles is more than just a name. The company’s bedrock is its sustainability mission. All the bedding products are made from a fiber known as lyocell, which is the third generation of cellulose rayon— a plant fiber.
Lyocell is derived from the plant fiber of eucalyptus trees and Colin says that the process uses upwards of 96% less water than cotton sheets. A single cotton bed sheet can use as much as 4000 litres of water to make compared to 150 litres used for Sheets and Giggles sheets. The amount of water saved per sheet set equates to 5 years of an average person’s drinking water.
Colin says that the company has not only saved water but reduces insecticide and pesticide use as well. 25% of all insecticide and pesticide use globally is used on cotton. Not only is lyocell a more sustainable product, but the final product is superior. Colin says that the sheets are softer, more breathable and have lower surface friction overall.
Sheets and Giggles has six full time employees including a Director of Product, Director of Operations, Director of Marketing as well as a content marketing and customer service team. Colin still uses contractors to subsidize the company and contracts a part time CFO, legal team, accounting and bookkeeping.
He uses and highly recommend the Amazon Consultancy AJ Duran, and works closely with two 3PL warehouses in California and South Carolina. The product is manufactured in India. Overall, Colin says that there are 30-40 people working in aggregate. Colin started the business the hard ways—all by himself for an entire year. He says he was working 16-18 hours a day and didn’t pay himself for 15 months.
It’s paid off bigtime and besides knowing operations inside and out, he says that being able to speak to the businesses financials with such intimate knowledge gives investors more confidence.
Revenue per Head
Revenue per Head is a favorite metric at Sheets and Giggles and Colin says that knowing the number gives investors an easy apples to apples comparison and is a good way to judge business success.
One of the businesses that Colin uses as an example for comparison is the mattress company, Casper, who has a $400,000 Revenue per Head. The Sheets and Giggles number, he says is higher and that makes investors feel confident that the business is doing well. From a hiring perspective, he says that the revenue per head number is really helpful too.
He contents that if you are going to bring on an employee who represents a fixed cost, it’s important to make sure they bring in enough value to maintain or increase that Revenue per Head number.
Growing Fast with Crowdfunding
Hitting 1M in sales wasn’t really a shock and something Colin says the team was planning for from the beginning, but their $284,000.00 Indie GoGo Campaign was a success that Colin was not expecting—and one that was unparalleled, taking the prize as the most successful campaign ever in that space.
On Start Up Costs
Colin is careful to point out to anyone thinking of starting a physical product business that you don’t need to raise all of your necessary startup money at one time in order to go to market.
Typically you only need to put a deposit down with a manufacturer to get things going and then only pay for goods when they have been shipped etc. The deal you get will depend on your prowess in negotiations and it does represent a risk of course, but it is possible to swing it without an up front cash flow.
What’s in a Name?
Colin says that he intentionally picked the cheeky name Sheets and Giggles because he knew it would stand out from the crowd and it would make a great click through name.
He also focused on great visuals that played along with name for their creative content. One of their most irreverent ads features 3 full grown men hanging out in bed, wearing avocado masks and drinking wine. This particular ad is a scroll stopper and has outperformed all of the companies other ads.
Colin’s Top Four Tips for a Great Brand Name
- Shareable, Spellable and Memorable
- Memorably needs to denote or connote what you do
- Really good SEO—People need to be able to find you
- Have a .com if you are selling to Americans
eCommerce Book Top Tip
- Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by Brad Feld and David G. Cohen
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Create content that’s valuable for its own sake. Good content doesn’t have to be about your product, but it does need to be valuable.
Tool Top Tip
- Texting / Phone Call
Growth Top Tip
- Spend Money on Advertising!
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