1. eve Sleep

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Founders: Jas Bagniewski, Kuba Wieczorek, Felix Lobkowicz, James Fryer, Abid Ismail
Founded: January 2015 (launched February 2015)
Website: www.evemattress.co.uk 

When two-year old mattress retailer eve Sleep submitted its entry for the Startups 100 back in March 2017 it was a privately-owned business.

Fast forward two months and the London-based start-up has just announced its IPO (initial public offering) on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange – testament to the business’ early success and supporting evidence of why it warrants the number one slot in this year’s index.

As the first direct to consumer mattress box in the UK, eve Sleep’s start-up journey over the course of the past two years has been an inspiring, and fascinating, one to follow.

We’ve seen the emergence of the ‘battle of the beds’ with competition from stellar start-up rivals (check out number five in this index) yet eve – creator of the “world’s most comfortable” mattresses – has continued to reign supreme with phenomenal growth and backing from high-profile investors.

Since featuring in the 2016 Startups 100 list, eve has increased revenues by 355% – from £2.6m to £12m – grown its team to 80 staff, has expanded trade to 10 countries, and now has six products in its range with plans to evolve outside of mattresses to other bedroom-related wares.

These developments have been assisted by investment to the tune of £17m from backers such as Octopus Ventures and DN Capital. It’s that funding, alongside the subsequent £35m raised via its AIM listing, which enabled it to sustain EBITDA losses of £11.3m in the last year – a heavy figure, but a sign of the investment in R&D, its team, infrastructure, and marketing as it seeks to steal as much of the fragmented market’s share in double-quick time.

With an ultimate goal to “wake up the tired sleep industry”, eve’s transition from start-up to scale-up is being led by an impressive founding team with Young Guns Jas Bagniewski [former country manager of Rocket Internet], Felix Lobkowicz, and James Fryer, alongside Kuba Wieczorek [ex-Channel 4 executive] and Abid Ismail at its helm. The start-up also boasts Paul Pindar, former Capita CEO and current non-executive of 2015 Startups 100 winner Purplebricks.com, as chairman.

While “ambitious marketing plans” and “growth of distribution channels” are currently underway, co-founder Bagniewski notes that critics who question eve’s concept have become a driving force behind the business and its ambitions of “becoming a household name”.

“We’ve had people who’ve not seen the potential of the brand and how far it can take us. We’ve come across plenty of non-believers when we’ve said we’ll make the mattress industry cool… But that hasn’t fazed us; it’s just meant we’ve had to work harder when pitching the idea.”

So what’s next for the mattress start-up which quickly built a following on the back of its 100 day return policy? Bagniewski tells us that his overarching aim is to “continue to bring innovative products to market that revolutionise the sleep industry”.

And what about its rivals? “Our brand is also what separates us from our competitors. Most mattress companies are quite literally sleepy.”

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