Brooklinen: The Ultimate Comfort
There is an age-old saying, “You get what you pay for.” But what if that could change?
Everyone wants quality products that would garnish their homes. Yet, the unfortunate reality is that these are usually expensive. Well, that has finally changed thanks to a power couple with a knack for creativity!
Meet Rich and Vicki Fulop, the brain behind Brooklinen - a company that sells various home products that provide ultimate comfort. The merchandise ranges from bedding necessities to bath mats, robes, curtains, etc., while cutting the overall cost. The middleman is out of the picture, allowing customers to purchase high-quality home essentials at reasonable prices.
Let’s dive into Rich and Vicki's exciting story about how they came up with the idea for this business!
Early Life and Career Path
Rich Fulop wasn’t excited about the business world at first. He finished college at NYU and then went on to build a six-year working experience before establishing Brooklinen. He used to be in the finance sector, which wasn’t very suitable for him or, as he says, “I hated it.”
Considering he always had a passion for sports and entertainment, Rich decided to pair up his love and experience. Such a decision led him to work for major league soccer.
However, soon after, Rich decided it was time to return to school and finish what he had started. He went back to get a degree at the NYU Stern School of Business and thus took on a new path in life.
Vicki Fulop shares a similar background in the entrepreneur field as she was a career-changer too. The co-founder went to law school straight after finishing college, but she never felt at home because studying law was never Vicki’s calling. Due to this, she followed her creative passions and dove into the field of fashion in entertainment. This led her to Tory Burch.
As we can see today, that turned out to be the springboard she never knew she needed. Vicki moved along with the team for styling and merchandising and then transferred to holding a position as PR. New views opened up for Vicki as she learned about photography, design, and, most importantly, how to build a buzz around a brand.
An Idea is Born
Rich and Vicki started the Brooklinen company while Rich was still in business school. Although they didn’t have rich business experience backgrounds, except for Rich’s formality degree, they managed to create something from nothing, as Vicki says.
The idea came while they were staying in Las Vegas in 2012. The hotel they spent the night in sold everything the apartments had, like rugs, beds, etc., in their hotel shop. Vicki wanted to purchase the bed sheets from the hotel store after having the best night's sleep of her life. However, $800 for bed sheets was a bit too much for Rich and Vicki since they still weren’t financially stable.
The high price led them to research the company producing those sheets. During their search, they both realized the market offered either high-quality but really expensive products or simple, mediocre beddings at affordable prices.
They knew customers, like themselves, wanted more - the best of both worlds. Because of it, they started developing the idea of creating beautiful, high-quality bed sheets that are affordable.
Examining the Audience
The initiation process took some time as Rich and Vicki wanted to know what the real customer wanted when shopping for bedding. The action process occurred in the local bars, restaurants, and other similar places. They started asking people whether or not they shop online, what kind of products they were looking for, and so on until they reached the home goods questions.
Such feedback was the wind beneath their wings as they saw this as a huge opportunity. They knew they could steer potential customers towards their product once they had examined the terrain.
Another thing that opened their eyes was that no one talked about bedding products at the time. After contacting many manufacturers to get an idea of the actual creation process, they were amazed as one maker told them he had never seen someone younger than 50 try and enter this business.
Their family and friends thought their idea was bad due to their beliefs of the market being a simple, not attractive field, and this manufacturer’s statement. However, Rich and Vicki saw it as a great opportunity and didn’t back down regardless of what others thought.
Launching and Obstacles
Brooklinen launched in 2014 after going on Kickstarter for initial funding. Before taking this action, Vicki and Rich gave samples of their product to bloggers, writers, and anyone who covered home décor to see if people were interested in their campaign. Even though their Kickstarter goal was $50,000, they ended up gaining just under $250,000 in pre-sales only due to Vicki’s PR skills.
Nonetheless, not everything was milk and honey. The couple didn’t know much about the business they were entering, so they had to learn as the company grew. Their journey faced several obstacles, all happening as their business started to expand.
For instance, they felt a lot of pressure for sending people a product they hadn’t seen or touched first-hand. This was their biggest concern at the time, but everything turned out great thanks to their excellent PR skills.
Another thing Rich and Vicki didn’t know would pose a problem was the shipping. They first had to figure out which company would suit their business best - whether it be FedEx, DHL, UPS, or others. Luckily, Rick took care of this part, which boosted their sales.
Rich also had to rent a space where he and Vicki would put the newly arrived sheets and beddings. This was another thing that didn’t come to mind when they first started building on the idea, but they soon managed to work this out and rapidly attend to their numerous new customers.
So far, Brooklinen has reached over $60 million in funding in 4 rounds. These were backed by 5 investors, of which 3 are lead investors.
The first funding process occurred in the beginning as Brooklinen was launched on Kickstarter. After the first non-official Kickstarter round of cash, Brooklinen didn’t have any findings for quite some time because Rich advised companies should run on their own money and not invest if not necessary. This seed round gave them the first $20,000.
The status quo changed on 16th March 2017 when FirstMark Capital invested $10 million in the company’s Series A funding. This amount was enough for the following three years before Summit Partners added another $50 million to the Brooklinen funds in the Series B round.
The final funding round was in 2021, a private equity round with the lead investor Freeman Spogli.
Such sums made room for huge expansion. Due to this, today, Brooklinen offers a whole palette of products and has gained a considerable customer base, triggering the employment of many.
Upcoming Days for Brooklinen
Today Brooklinen has 152 employees, and everything is operated from the headquarters in New York City.
In the current market, the idea on which Brooklinen is based has opportunities to expand like never before. Their website offers a vast range of products under several categories, including Bed, Bath, Loungewear, and Décor.
The room for improvement lies in the product variety and satisfying every customer’s needs, which Brooklinen plans on doing as it develops. Because as Rich and Vicki say, “Quality is the most important thing. The products just need to be great.”