An Interview with Shanir Kol
How SleePare is revolutionizing the mattress showroom industry, one customer at a time.
Recently, we sat down with SleePare CEO and Founder Shanir Kol to learn more about the company, their mission, and their impact on the industry. What we discovered was far more than we expected.
Shanir Kol is a seasoned entrepreneur and business world revolutionary. Originally from Jerusalem, Israel, he moved to the United States in adulthood, launching a fast-growing business career. Today, Shanir Kol is dedicated to improving the lives of consumers by giving them user-friendly access to premium products at a reasonable price.
But how did this mission come about? Shanir was quick to enlighten us on his inspiration.
The origins of SleePare were born in 2017, when Kol launched a U.S.-based website for mattress and bedding reviews. Bolstered by decades of experience in the furniture industry, Kol knew that sampling products and reading reviews were important steps of a smart purchase, especially when a customer is unable to try out the product themselves.
“We know how impossible it can be to find the perfect mattress online; it’s like shopping for clothes with your eyes blindfolded. You have a chance at getting it right, but the odds are stacked against you.”
SleePare customers have weighed in on this too. In fact, many stated they would go beyond the normal shopping trip just to get the right mattress:
“We’ve had customers drive over a hundred miles just to come see us,” Kol said. “That’s how important this is to them.”
“Finding the perfect mattress has always been the second worst experience of my life after visiting the dentist,” said one customer. And it’s no wonder; sleep is a crucial part of the human condition—and a poor-quality mattress can make or break a person’s experience.
“We spend up to a third of our lives asleep. It’s an important part of being healthy; it affects our moods, immune system, hormones, and even our ability to cope with pain.”
And this isn’t just a mattress showroom giant talking; these are cold, hard facts. “Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies,” says Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at NIH. “It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.” So, of course, it stands to reason that—with the wrong mattress in your home—your entire life can go downhill fast.
With all of this in mind, Kol decided to take his website idea further. Soon, he had assembled a team and opened his first brick-and-mortar location: a SleePare showroom in Manhattan. The business operated under a unique “Try Before You Buy” model—where customers could select samples online and try them in person at the showroom before they made their purchase. This innovative model allowed customers to truly experience their mattress choice—making them much more likely to find their ‘perfect’ fit product.
But Kol made it clear that the SleePare mission is about more than just finding customers the right mattress. It’s also about providing a personalized, heartfelt shopping experience. We saw that firsthand in a SleePare showroom, where Kol personally welcomed each customer to the store. When we asked him about this, he said that one of SleePare’s key values is client-centered service:
“Communicating with clients and listening to their needs has always been an essential part of my work. Now, it’s part of what SleePare does best.”
One of the key aspects of the shopping assistance process is readily apparent in SleePare’s no-pressure atmosphere. For decades, mattress stores and other showrooms have garnered a bad reputation for harboring sleazy salespeople with pushy—sometimes even shady—business tactics. However, SleePare is changing that stereotype. In their showrooms, you will never find salespeople hassling shoppers or attempting to get them to make a purchase that isn’t ideal for their preferences, budget, or lifestyle. Instead, every guest is welcomed warmly and allowed to test out showroom mattresses without interruption.
“Our mission is to help people save money without compromising the ability to match the right mattress to their unique body type. Even the newest technologies used to virtually describe these mattresses can’t replace the in-person test at a showroom.”
While SleePare’s “Try and Buy” business model was originally designed to improve a customer’s shopping experience—the innovation has also had an unexpected, yet profoundly positive, impact on a global level.
In traditional situations, when a mattress is purchased online and then subsequently returned by the customer, it is typically discarded and left in a landfill—where it could remain for generations. While this procedure has a good intention—since used mattresses are difficult to clean and, therefore, to disinfect for safe use by a later customer—it also leaves a lot of non-biodegradable materials in landfills. This type of waste accumulates dramatically, often leeching dangerous chemicals into the earth and, in turn, harming the environment.
Alternatively, the SleePare model has resulted in a dramatic reduction in mattress waste. Because customers are given the opportunity to test out their mattress of interest before purchasing it, they are more likely to be satisfied with their ultimate purchase.
“SleePare has helped reduce the percentage of returned (and then discarded) mattresses by nearly 80%, in comparison to the same mattresses when purchased online.”
In addition, this revolutionary business model has allowed SleePare and their partnered brands to save up to 70% more per year on returns and exchanges. That’s a hefty chunk of change that they can use for other aspects of their business.
When we asked Kol what his plans were in that regard, he informed us that SleePare has already implemented ongoing planet care initiatives dedicated to further reducing the company’s environmental impact for generations to come.
“Everyone knows that the best businesses help solve problems, but nowadays, I think you must also present an environmentally friendly aspect in a new business model.”
As of 2022, SleePare has generated over ten million dollars through a combination of direct and affiliate sales—with showrooms in Miami (Florida), Boston (Massachusetts), Los Angeles (California), New York City (New York), and Tysons Corner (Virginia). Their approach has been so successful, many other mattress sellers have followed suit—implementing the “Try Before You Buy” model for their showrooms. As a result, thousands upon thousands of mattresses have stayed out of landfills and in the homes of satisfied customers.
The SleePare website has expanded as well—thanks to top-tier, modern technology. Using data science to analyze market statistics and customer reviews, the team is able to offer clients unbiased ratings of mattresses from hundreds of top brands. The site’s comparison tool surveys customer preferences in terms of price, durability, and comfort level—so that each customer can quickly and effectively find a sample that fits their particular needs. This convenient tool also includes dozens of custom search filters that customers can use to refine their search—including budget, firmness level, type of filler, zone of support, and the presence of active cooling systems. Once they choose their ideal mattress options, the customer meets a specialist at the showroom to make their final decision.
“Our customers constantly vote for their favorite mattresses, so we always rotate products in our showrooms. We must have gone through 300-400 different models already,” Kol explained. “As a result, we always have the very best selection of online mattresses ready on the floor, by customers’ votes.”
This unique community model allows customers to truly influence SleePare’s selection—similar to a social networking platform.
“People can share opinions with each other through commenting and relaying experiences online. Samples that people find interesting and valuable become on-trend.”
Another benefit of SleePare’s unique strategy is affordable pricing. Because they are able to save on returns, partner with trusted affiliates, and close on sales faster, the SleePare team is able to offer premium mattresses at outstanding prices—many of which customers wouldn’t be able to match anywhere else.
“Cost-saving is a key value at SleePare. We strive for better quality at lesser costs. Many traditional mattress stores pay extreme amounts in rent, warehouses, advertising, and associate salaries. And statistically, these stores host no more than 10-15 customers per week. SleePare works with nearly 1,000 clients weekly on the website and in our showrooms. This factor directly impacts the lowered cost of each mattress–a huge benefit to our customers.”
Because of their unique, hybrid business model, SleePare also maintains certain advantages over online-only stores. Customers are provided with a full, white-glove delivery —where SleePare staff personally carries and unpacks every shipment by hand. This service adds yet another personal touch to the shopper experience, helping clients to feel empowered, satisfied, and cared-for.
“The thousands of positive reviews from our customers, the stats rolling in about our planetary impact, the dedication and satisfaction of our dedicated team—those are the things that inspire me every day. They motivate me to keep going—to keep building SleePare into the ultimate mattress resource for customers all around the world.”
Not to anyone’s surprise, Kol’s goals are in-process as we speak. The company itself is constantly growing, motivated by their founder’s exceptional expansion plan:
“We plan to expand to 30 in-store locations in every major metro in the United States. We hope to plan to offer our services in Canada by 2023,” Kol said.
Today, the “Try and Buy” concept is an increasingly popular approach in the eCommerce world, met with enthusiasm by customers shopping for mattresses. As other online mattress companies have emerged in the industry, SleePare continues to dominate the market—with an ever-expanding selection brought to them by eager affiliate partners:
“Manufacturers encourage us to rate and review their new models. They listen to candid comments and opinions of our customers, which motivates them to improve quality, broaden the range of samples, and produce mattresses that will be in demand.”
From helping customers find their perfect mattress to reducing environmental impact to giving consumers the ultimate shopping experience, the SleePare team has transformed the mattress industry from a high-pressure, high-waste endeavor into a streamlined, human-centric business model. Looking at the metrics rolling in from their latest sales year, we can safely say it can only go up from here. And we, for one, are looking forward to seeing what Shanir Kol will do next—for SleePare customers, for the world, and for humanity’s future.