Learn from the wisdom of those who have been there before. There are relatively few new stories — just different people in them.

 

Dave Pributsky is the head of marketing strategy and business development at 2920 Sleep. This customer-centric online retailer provides consumers with high-quality products that improve sleep quality and overall health with minimal environmental impact. Dave founded 2920 Sleep with his business partner, Karim O’Driscoll, as a quality-driven company dedicated to providing healthier lifestyles through sleep. Dave has experience leading business and digital strategy with consumer brands such as TrueCar, USAA, AAA, American Express, and Consumer Reports.

Where did the idea for 2920 Sleep come from?

After a very fulfilling career at TrueCar , I was looking for an opportunity to bring those success factors to a new industry. TrueCar helped millions of people every month navigate the stressful experience of buying a car at a fair price.

The sleep industry has many of the same consumer pain points. Buying from a retailer makes it virtually impossible to know whether you are paying a fair price. There is little data to do an accurate price comparison, and it comes with a difficult price negotiation process. By offering a high-quality mattress with a 100-night trial and free shipping, a significant amount of financial risk is alleviated. With more than 200 companies now offering this direct-to-consumer model, it’s important to do things differently.

2920 Sleep identified a gap in the market for a better-quality product and addressed it through design, extensive testing, and an increased investment in the quality of materials and production. As a result, we have happier customers. Based on reported data, our return rate is up to 70 percent less than leading competitors.

Our goal for 2920 Sleep is to be a better company for employees, customers, and the environment. We have taken a lot of inspiration from the Patagonia mission, and we are one of the few companies in the industry to join 1% for the Planet, committing 1 percent of annual revenue to environmental causes.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

Because our company is still relatively small and young, I have the luxury of being very hands-on with every aspect of the business. My typical day starts with a cup of coffee and an hour reviewing the prior day’s sales, website traffic, and customer service activity. Then, I plan out the day’s goals, with a focus on marketing. Mid-morning, we have a 30- to 60-minute update and planning session with the key company managers. After lunch, we focus on key projects for the day.

I also schedule some downtime every day to clear the mind — this is often a swim or surf session — in addition to time with my family in the morning and evening. Making family and personal time a priority helps me be more productive, as it avoids the “guilt factor” we often experience when trying to juggle work and life!

Lastly, I have to say that my sleep is incredibly important. If I don’t get at least eight hours of high-quality sleep, I am sluggish and don’t accomplish as much the next day. A comfortable mattress and pillow really help (as does a darkened and quiet sleeping environment). And yes, I do sleep on 2920 Sleep products every night.

How do you bring ideas to life?

There’s definitely both an art and a science to making an idea happen, and there’s a “spidey sense” or gut feeling that often lets me know whether things will click into place. If that special feeling is missing, the idea often isn’t successful. It might not be a bad idea, but if the feedback doesn’t sound right, you need to pause and understand the “why” behind it. Maybe it’s timing. Usually, you already know the answers. The process of explaining it to others can reveal the jewels or the pitfalls.

In a young company, there are always more things to do than there is time in the day. It’s really important to focus on the handful of ideas that you can execute effectively with your team. The four main steps are:

  1. Kick off with the team to really sell everyone on the strategy behind the idea.
  2. Figure out who will do what, and make sure everyone is on board.
  3. Delegate portions of the larger project to team members based on expertise.
  4. Frequently have touch-base sessions to make sure everyone is on track.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I’ve been excited to see an increased focus on sustainability and awareness of the impact of consumerism. Slowly, society is waking up to the fact that a disposable and consumer-focused culture isn’t sustainable. There’s a greater appreciation that growth at all costs has its downsides, while more thoughtful buying behavior by consumers is better for everyone.

At 2920 Sleep, we hope consumers recognize we’re doing things differently by providing better-quality products that last longer and are a better investment. In turn, this reduces environmental impact through lower return rates. As a company, we’re able to support our employees through an affordable living wage and work-life balance. We are still manufacturing goods, but the decisions along the way make the difference in how much waste is produced.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Genuinely being passionate about what we’re doing makes a tremendous difference. With everything we’re doing, it’s important that I recognize the underlying driving force because that pushes everything else. Customers, suppliers, and employees can all recognize that we want to be the best and to be different, which starts with the simple habit of always tapping into that enthusiasm.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Learn from the wisdom of those who have been there before. There are relatively few new stories — just different people in them.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Failure is the best way to learn quickly.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Don’t say no to any opportunity. Instead, focus on the potential to make things happen. What often initially appears to be a waste of time might have great potential once you start to think through the opportunity. Too often, a fear of failure or a lack of trust causes us to reject opportunities.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Asking for the opportunity and then proving people wrong. Many people didn’t think there would be room for another company in the direct-to-consumer space. In our first year since launching the site, we’re happy to have proven them wrong and pleased to have provided many happy customers with a better night’s sleep.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Early in my career, I was working with a team to operate a website for a big client. Our service-level requirements were very strict, and failing to maintain them had financial penalties. In the first 30 days, the site went down for 12 hours without our knowledge.

It was a disaster, and our credibility was shot. Instead of making up excuses, we leaned in and took full responsibility. Our response was to find out the exact causes as to why it happened, fall on the sword, and put together a special team to address those issues. That team stayed engaged with the client for several years, regularly reporting new potential weaknesses and letting them know where we were vulnerable. We eventually became a trusted source of information, and we enjoyed more leeway to experiment than others. In the end, that mistake and our transparency strengthened our partnership.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An on-demand chef in your home. Home dining is a growing trend with Blue Apron, GrubHub, Caviar, and Postmates. We all get into a rut of getting takeout from the same places. Scheduling someone to come to your home and cook you an amazing meal at a reasonable price could be an interesting idea. I don’t know whether anyone is doing it yet.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

I took a creative writing class. It gave me something to focus on that is completely separate from work and allows me to turn off one area of my brain and turn on another.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

GitHub. It’s a simple, effective project management tool that we use with our front-end and back-end developers. It’s like having a combination of a whiteboard and Post-it notes — but online.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read?

Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. It’s a great introduction to thinking about the influence of business on society and the environment. I think we all have the potential to make a change if we’re aware of what we can do.

What is your favorite quote?

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” — Noam Chomsky

Key Learnings:

  • Place yourself in a gap in the market, and distinguish yourself from the competition.
  • Find and tap into your inner drive or passion so everyone else can see that you’re excited by what you’re doing.
  • Read “Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard to get a new perspective on what is possible.Make time for yourself and your family. So much press focuses on how many hours someone works every day or how little sleep a person gets — everyone is different. It’s so important to understand yourself and to know when it’s time to unplug and clear your mind for a few hours.
  • Get a good night’s sleep!

Connect:

https://2920sleep.com/
Dave Pributsky on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daveprib/
2920 Sleep on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/2920-sleep
2920 Sleep on Twitter: https://twitter.com/2920Sleep
2920 Sleep on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/2920Sleep/