The Sleepout Post - The Leap
Welcome to our first edition of The Sleepout Post! [written by Mark @ trysleepout.com]
We made a video to say thank you for yesterday!
We ended up rewriting and re-filming (above) this after our launch. We know it’s a Saturday (we swear no more Saturday editions!). Just a massive thank you to the friends and family who have been with us from the beginning. Another huge thank you to the hundreds of people we had conversations with on LinkedIn and Facebook about their sleep issues.
We built this product and this company for you. We are honored to have you on this journey with us.
In these installments (only once a month), we will share our entire journey (company updates, sleep science updates, personal updates) and give you a window into running our business.
Note! * The single biggest thing you can do to help us is if you could get one or two :) other people to subscribe to this newsletter. Especially if you think they would be interested in sleep products. This is because Kickstarters with a large pre-launch following tend to do the best at launch.
Here is the link:
The Story of Sleepout
How did we end up with a portable blackout curtain business? I suffered from clinical insomnia and can be difficult to sleep next to. Hannah put up with me but also enjoys the dark for sleeping. We built Sleepout because we tried literally everything else to darken our room. We’ve used garbage bags, towels, shower curtain rods with blackout fabric. You name it we’ve probably tried it.
We also tried buying other portable blackout curtains — but none worked. We realized something important. Portable blackout curtains were in demand on Amazon (lots of bestseller items) but with really poor reviews (some average 3.9/5). We read all of the reviews to see if we could make something better. Negative reviews said the same things we hated about existing products: the suction sucked and light bleeds on the side made it difficult to actually get rooms dark.
We spent months with all sorts of materials. We talked to curtain shops, some who liked our idea, others called us crazy and told us we would get sued for our fabric falling on someone (it won’t). We worked with a local fashion factory to get some early prototypes. They looked awful. We got as much feedback as we could from friends and family.
After months of testing, Sleepout was born.
Company Updates: The patent, the cups, and launch
This week of March 19, 2021, we are working away at a few key items:
We filed our patent application: this has been in the works for a long time. We’ve worked with many different law firms in Canada and we’re excited to have this finally filed. Funny story - we called the patent office to make sure they got our application. A man with a southern accent told me “Sir, I cannot tell you whether what we have received is correct. However, this is a provisional patent application and the United States patent office will accept it.” Just like that, we are inventors! Funny times.
We got our seventh iteration prototype suction cups:
Aren’t they beautiful? After months and months of testing, we have our clear candidate to move forward with (stops light bleed along the top of a curtain better than anything we’ve ever seen before and fits snugly to our curtain). Suction is critical for the reliability of the curtain staying up, we knew we had to design something great. Having a picture of a suction cup in your mind that then gets brought into reality is a really cool feeling.
Financing: $$$. It’s a fact of e-commerce life - you have to meet the minimum order quantity (MOQ) of your partner factory. We have a great manufacturing partner (Disney uses them) but we will need to put our money where our mouth is if we plan to make the Sleepout dream a reality. All of our Kickstarter proceeds will go towards funding our MOQ too but having financing is always critical to running a business. We are close to announcing more details on financing, but as of yesterday, we have what we need!
What we’ve learned this month: wild swings in emotions are part of the entrepreneurial journey. (Hannah note: thanks for the patience Mark!) Expect them. Make time for them. Forgive yourself for having them. We meditate regularly to help but they are inevitable and should be expected.
Sleep Science Update: Matthew Walker - Why We Sleep
Dr. Walker is professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at UC Berkeley and he is the founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science.
We can’t recommend this book enough but here are a few takeaways:
Inadequate sleep is worse than we thought: “Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease.” Even moderate reductions in sleep for just one week make someone’s blood sugar levels pre-diabetic. Sleep disruption further contributes to all major psychiatric conditions (including anxiety, depression, and suicidality). Studies show sleeping pills like Ambien and Lunesta help people fall asleep but miss the restorative deep sleep so critical to recovery. Worse, they create a rebound effect when someone stops using them.
Darkness at night is critical: We know this fact well 😊. Blackout curtains are obviously helpful to block out any light in the bedroom or sleeping area. Get rid of any gadgets in the bedroom that could emit blue light (that means phones and laptops). Replace any LED bulbs in your bedroom because they emit the most sleep-disturbing light. Having a cooler temperature in the bedroom is helpful too, ideally, you want your body to cool 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit to signal sleep time.
Life Update: Quebecois Living
We’ve gone full vagabond and put all of our stuff into storage last month. We are currently staying in Levis, Quebec a city on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Quebec City. We’re staying in a 200-year-old house with two fireplaces (it gets cold here). We decided to move away from condo-land life in Toronto, at least until the pandemic loosens up.
Please leave a comment below! We would love your thoughts on our first edition - including what we should have more of and what we should get rid of. You can always get in touch with Hannah or me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (or both!).