Mattress startup CEO Philip Krim shares his strategy

Philip Krim
Casper

Mattresses may not be the sexiest industry, but it got a whole lot of buzz last week. Recently launched mattress company Casper is aiming to revolutionize the industry by selling directly to consumers via the web. With under 10 percent of mattress sales currently being completed online, founder and CEO Philip Krim saw a gaping hole in the market and pounced.

The biggest thing that will separate Casper from the competition is the speed at which you can pick out a mattress online and then have it in your home. In New York City, mattresses are delivered free by Uber or bike on the same day as purchased. Nationwide, delivery takes 1 to 5 days. And full refunds are available within 40 days of purchase. Here's what Krim says about his infant company, and the future of the industry.

CBS MoneyWatch: What's really unique about Casper?

Philip Krim: Buying a mattress remains one of the worst consumer experiences. We've invested in a unique user experience whether you're on your phone or computer, and then pack the bed into a box the size of golf clubs and deliver it right to you. And our mattress is also super comfortable -- we layer expensive latex foam over memory foam for a minimalist design.

MW: What is your biggest challenge right now?

PK: There are so many moving parts. It's not just about the website and product and delivery, but making sure they all come together so at launch every customer gets the identical experience that is well beyond their expectations.

MW: How will your previous experience (at the Merrick Group, Vocalize Mobile and elsewhere) impact how you lead Casper?

PK: In the startup world, it's always about creating your own path. But you learn from failures and successes along the way. I have a deep background in e-commerce and direct customer acquisition, and learning about what customers expect and how to manage those expectations and over deliver.

MW: What is the best career advice you've ever received?

PK: A lot of advisors have told me that the more that you can have foresight into every aspect of what you're working on, the better off you'll be. For me personally, this includes talking to as many people as I can who are doing what we're doing in a similar way and people who are looking to do what we're looking to do. In the startup community in New York City there are lots of people willing to talk about how they're working through obstacles, and entrepreneurs who will share the challenges and opportunities they see. Also, I make sure to read what the press is talking about and what other people are working on.

MW: When you're hiring for a startup like Casper, what do you look for in a candidate?

PK: Hiring is one of the biggest challenges we face. We have five co-owners and part of our culture is to debate ideas, challenge the status quo and push to do things to the best level we can given our resources. Hopefully the candidate has been challenged before, and can explain what they did to overcome it. We're looking for someone who has had success, as well as failure, because you learn a lot through both.

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.