How a mattress company gains an online following

henry@henryhargreaves.com

According to Consumer Reports, the month of May is one of the best and most popular times to buy a bed.

Americans spent more than $14 billion on mattresses and box springs last year. CBS News' correspondent Gigi Stone Woods reports from the New York City showroom of a company that -- in just one year -- has already flipped industry expectations.

It's a start-up called Casper, and Silicon Valley is investing in its future. Casper has raised $15 million in funding from high-profile backers, including Ashton Kutcher.

The company is surprising many people by turning the mundane activity of buying a mattress into a conversation on social media, and the co-founders of the online start-up are basking in the unexpected free publicity.

"We've just been really lucky that our customers have been so vocal since the first day that we've launched," co-founder and CEO Philip Krim said.

Vocal about the new mattresses they ordered online, without ever trying them.

"Most of our customers still come from people telling one another," co-founder and COO Neil Parikh said.

The company, which sells exclusively through it's website, is already disrupting an established industry that traditionally relies on salesmen and showrooms.

"We saw that buying a mattress remained one of the worst consumer experiences out there and we just built a great product and... sell it directly to you," Krim said.

It's a direct-to-customer approach appealing to the on-demand millennial generation. A formula the company Warby Parker used to revolutionize the eye-wear industry.

The business model? Make a quality product, cut out the middleman, and sell it from a sleek website at a lower price. Casper charges $500 for a twin mattress, and up to $950 for a California King.

If you still can't get comfortable after 100 nights, they'll give you your money back .

"They changed the conversation," NYU Stern Professor Luke Williams said. "If this was delivered the same as any old mattress, no one would talk about it."

But people are talking -- and buying. In its first year, Casper made more than $30 million in sales in the U.S. and Canada.

"The fact that they have so much word of mouth going is remarkable," Williams said. "But that word of mouth was generated by the ingenious design."

Co-founder Jeff Chapin helped design the mattress. The three types of foam are poured, cured, and cut into various sizes. The fabric cover is added and a machine folds and compresses the bed.

"Today we expect to ship maybe 600 mattresses," Chapin said. "Whereas when we launched, we were anticipating on selling 20 or 30 mattresses in a week."

They are selling volume, but they're not selling choice; Casper offers a single option.

"We saw it -- it was almost a paradox of choice, where people walked into stores and they felt overwhelmed because there were so many options," Chapin said.

Casper now wants to expand past the bed-in-a-box idea and become a sleep lifestyle brand; it's also creating an online magazine and testing new products in a secret lab, one of which is a heavy blanket.