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The Sleep Company's Priyanka and Harshil Salot want you to sleep better

The co-founders of the Mumbai-headquartered The Sleep Company explain how Priyanka’s insomnia led them to research the sleep tech ecosystem and their patented SmartGRID technology

Priyanka and Harshil Salot want people to sleep better
Priyanka and Harshil Salot want people to sleep better (Priya Kurian)

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It begins with the story of a new mother trying to beat post-partum insomnia. After she had her first child, at the end of 2016, Priyanka Salot, co-founder of the Mumbai-headquartered The Sleep Company, struggled to get a good night’s sleep. This led to the quest for the perfect mattress. Priyanka and her husband, Harshil, the other co-founder, scoured the Indian market. Nothing worked.

“Suddenly it struck us that the quality of products in India is inferior to those anywhere else,” says Priyanka, 38, pointing out that foam and memory foam mattresses still dominated the market and had done so for decades. Our beds, something that we spend one-third of our lives in—nearly 26 years on average—continue to be cushioned by mattress technology invented in the 1960s. “This needs to become smarter and better.” According to her, advancements in the sleep tech space earlier largely boiled down to people trying to eliminate the middleman and reduce the prices when moving from offline to online—reasoning she thinks is outdated. “These are consumer products. If we need to make the consumer happy, we need to make the product better,” she says. “That is when we became obsessed with changing this industry.”

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Enter the SmartGRID mattress, which The Sleep Company’s website describes as the “biggest comfort revolution proven to help people sleep better and deeper”. Over the last four-odd years, it has helped make significant inroads in the mattress industry, valued at 12,000-13,000 crore, according to a 2022 report in The Financial Express. Since its inception in 2019, The Sleep Company has sold over 200,000 mattresses with a 100-day trial period and boasts of a low return rate of 2-3%. “We offer a completely revolutionary, disruptive material made from a hyper-elastic polymer. I think this is what created this disruption in the market today, making our customers happy,” says Priyanka, adding that they have had over 100,000 customers so far.

From its genesis as an online-only store selling mattresses, it has expanded to offer over 20 products, including various types of mattresses, smart bed frames, bedding and chairs, both online and at 18 physical locations in nine cities.

Last year, Priyanka was listed on the 2022 Forbes 40 under 40 entrepreneurs. In December, she was on Business World’s Disrupt 40 under 40, a platform for outstanding young entrepreneurs, while The Sleep Company was listed second on Inc42’s Fast42 2023 list, an initiative to recognise India’s fastest-growing D2C (direct-to-customer) brands—they are now the third largest D2C brand, says Harshil. “The intent is to grow internationally, continue building an omnichannel brand, expand aggressively offline,” says Priyanka, adding that the firm—which started as a team of three when ideation began in 2017—has over 200 employees.

According to EnTrackr, the company, whose competitors include Wakefit, SleepyCat and Duroflex, has been valued at around 660 crore, with revenue from operations ballooning from 11.74 crore in FY21 to 56.2 crore in FY22 . “We are confident of building a 1,000-crore brand in the next four-five years,” says Priyanka.

While the founders declined to comment on profitability, they say that they became profitable soon after launch. According to a June 2022 article in The Financial Express, Comfort Grid Technologies Pvt. Ltd, the parent company, made a net profit of 86.6 lakh, according to the regulatory filings accessed by the business intelligence firm Tofler.


Priyanka and Harshil met at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, where they studied from 2007-09. Harshil went on to work for a little over two years at Axis Bank before joining the family business, a Mumbai-based company which manufactures and manages electronic products, precision machine parts, building management and security systems. Priyanka, after spending a couple of years at financial services company JPMorgan Chase and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, joined consumer goods firm Procter & Gamble, where she went on to lead the company’s baby care and then its fabric care business in India.

Harshil, also 38, believes their different backgrounds and expertise are helping build the brand. She has a marketing and branding background; his core expertise is manufacturing. Throw in their different personalities—Priyanka is vibrant and gregarious; he is quieter, thoughtful and measured—and you have a team with complementary skills. “We are both a couple and co-founders. What is important is that we have very different skill sets,” he says. “This means there are great arguments and better thinking related to the brand.”

In 2017, when they first discovered they couldn’t find better mattresses, they decided to study the entire industry. They began travelling, visiting Japan, Europe and the US, and talking to brands, retailers and distributors to get a better understanding of the sleep tech ecosystem.

They also discovered that Indians are the second most sleep-deprived people in the world after Japan, says Priyanka. “We simply don’t get the minimum seven hours of sleep recommended by experts.”

They happened to meet A.K. Tripathi, a scientist who had retired from the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Collaborating closely with him, they developed—after considerable trial and error—what is today the USP of any Sleep Company product: SmartGRID, “a propriety, patented technology which we have innovated”, says Harshil.

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He says the product is made of a hyper-elastic polymer and designed on the science of pressure relief. “It is a stretchable material shaped like a grid,” he says, adding that the unique structure of the product enables the smaller parts of the body to be cuddled and comforted while larger areas like the back remain firm and straight.

“This is a very rare material which can give both these properties at one time. That is the unique structure of this particular product,” he adds. They spent the next two years experimenting and fine-tuning the product, testing it on relatives and friends and even attempting pressure mapping. “We did a lot of primary and secondary trials before we launched the product,” says Priyanka. “It gave us a lot of confidence.”


The Sleep Company was launched in 2019-end, in a 100 sq. ft office, recalls Priyanka. They were online-only then, selling on Flipkart, Amazon and their own website, bootstrapped by the founders’ own savings of around 25-30 lakh. Harshil firmly believes that the one and a half years spent on R&D have helped them get a firm toehold in the sleep tech space without burning too much money. “We did not have to invest too much money into the business since we focused on the right product in a very sustainable way,” he believes.

Their first range of products was mattresses made with the patented SmartGRID technology that “used the science of ergonomics and pressure-relieving to make comfort much better”, as Priyanka puts it. The company’s website describes the SmartGRID mattress as a “comfort revolution” that does not depend on memory foam, coir or latex, the key components of other mattresses. “The grid structure allows the walls of the grid to buckle down on body curvatures like the hips and shoulders,” claims the website, adding that the technology allows for a mattress to be both hard and soft. The same technology is used in the company’s pillows, cushions and chairs.

Priyanka remembers talking personally to every new customer, even delivering mattresses to get feedback and understand gaps in the product. “We did 60-70 iterations to the product in the first few months,” she remembers. “All our products go under a test phase where strong feedback is taken from customers every three months and is incorporated back into the product,” she says. “I think if we hadn’t done it, the journey would not have been similar. I strongly believe that since we are in the industry of consumer products, it is very important we stay close to our consumers,” she adds.

The exponential growth came on the heels of their first pre-series A round, led by Fireside Ventures, in November 2022. “We grew from a team of around six or seven to 35-40 right after that,” says Priyanka, adding that in the fiscal year 2022, they grew by nearly 400%. “That is the time we realised we needed to raise our next round of funding,” she says, adding that the company received series B funding of 177 crore, led by Premji Invest. Fireside Ventures and venture debt fund Alteria Capital also participated in this round.

“We started small and took investment decisions once we were confident we could improve volume and scale,” says Harshil, adding that all products are manufactured at their factory on the outskirts of Mumbai, which has also been expanding over the years, going from 40,000 sq. ft to 110,000 sq. ft. “This way we can service our customers better, be more agile and take ownership of the quality of the product,” he says. They recently opened a 40,000 sq. ft factory in Bengaluru.

So how did the firm weather covid-19 and a world plagued by lockdowns, delays and blocked supply chains? “Well, mattresses were classified as an essential item and allowed to be transported,” says Harshil. “We took the opportunity, ensuring that we had the precautions in place. I think that really helped us... The market is slowly shifting from unorganised to an organised market and that is where brands like us come into the picture.”

It also helped, adds Priyanka, that the pandemic accelerated the growth of the digital marketplace, forcing people to buy mattresses online. More importantly, however, covid triggered a mindset shift. “Health and wellness became a priority.”

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