Koala Mattress: A Community Larger Than Business!
If technology once paced, today it runs at a constant sprinting pace. Technology is so codependent on today’s business world that there’s almost no industry without it.
Yet, out of all technologies in all industries worldwide, the mattress industry is likely the most neglected one. But, thanks to two sleep-worms, Danny Milham and Mitch Taylor, quality sleep is back in style and the hibernating mattress market is, therefore - back in play!
Born in Australia, Koala Mattress is not your run-of-the-mill company. It presents a whole assortment of quality mattresses, all made from scratch and all in compliance with ethical and environmental criteria.
Even more, the company makes it its mission to save endangered animals worldwide, including bears and turtles - but especially koalas.
Danny and Mitch knew that the road to landing Koala Mattress on the top of the industry was thorny and obscure, but they also knew the value of taking the high road to success. Here’s how they walked it.
Danny Milham was born and raised in Byron Bay, on the far north coast of Australia. Basically having grown up by the ocean, Danny and his friends were skilled surfers and had a passion for it, but Danny never saw a career potential in the skill.
Even as a teenager, Danny had an untamed entrepreneurial spirit. He always had affinities towards gaming, business, and technology. At a certain point, he even became a professional gamer. Being a gamer himself, Danny knew a lot about gaming equipment. Therefore, at only 13 years of age, Danny eagerly started his own business
- customized gaming computers.
Just like Danny, Mitch Taylor was also born in Byron Bay. Even as a child, he had a born knack for entrepreneurship and all things business. When Mitch was little, he
would occasionally run orange juice stands and while he was studying at high school, he would also keep himself busy with different projects.
Clash of the Titans
Following high school, Danny decided to continue his studies at the University of Queensland where he graduated with a computer science degree. During his college years, he did small side projects, one of which was Mude Creative – a digital agency.
After university, he moved to Sydney to pursue his dream as a programmer. He worked on an iPhone app similar to Snapchat, called Toppit’. But, the app didn’t last long and Danny had to find yet another job, this time, one that would take him places.
It was a job at Ogilvy, which is also where Danny met with Mitch Taylor, the now co- founder of Koala mattress, and formerly, Danny’s footy coach. After Mitch went to university, he sold his then-project and decided to turn a new page, so he graduated from Murdoch University and immediately after found a job where he met his business partner, Danny.
Mitch was delighted to work with Danny and he invited him to participate in weekly start- up projects. As they were exploring options, the mattress industry caught their eye out of the crowd, mainly because both of them knew the market was craving a change. This industry seemed to be stuck in the Stone Age, especially when compared to other industries that kept up with the rise of technology.
Out of all obvious issues, the lack of digital support was the worst, which gave Mitch and Danny plenty of room to get creative with finding solutions, something Danny had mastered at. To fully dedicate himself to the task, he quit his job and picked up the pace.
The Ladder of Success
Koala Mattress was officially launched in November 2015, in Sydney, Australia. Stevie Smith was the company’s founding investor, who put a stake in it even before it had a single customer. Ahead of the launch, Danny and Mitch spent 12 months just researching the market. Many assumptions and offers later, they decided that the best way to make a name for themselves was to invent their own mattress foam. They were
aiming to create a foam mattress that would be affordable, practical for delivery, and at the same time, of high quality. Among other perks, the mattress would also not shift nor bounce during the night, which would ensure both firmness and sound sleep.
Once the puzzle assembled, the only thing Danny and Mitch had to do was come up with a name. Accepting Danny’s initial suggestion, Koala, the duo added the Mattress part to make it known that top-quality sleep is, indeed, their foremost priority.
A Purpose Besides Business
When it came to mattresses, quality and comfort alone weren’t going to cut it for Koala Mattress’s clientele. To separate themselves from the industry herd, Danny and Mitch aimed for an even bigger impact and, aside from doing business, they also wanted to lend a helping hand to those in need. An Aussie himself, Danny had understood the environmental perils Australia faced and the flora and fauna affected by them and wanted to do something about it.
Doing something about it meant helping the survival of endangered and crucial species such as the koalas, whose habitat has been threatened by a range of factors, both human and natural. Noticing the climate change red flags as well, Mitch realized that, apart from koalas, turtles were also an endangered species in need of rescue.
To help both animal groups, and more, Koala Mattress officially signed a deal with the World Wildlife Fund or WWF. For every item purchased from the company, buyers can either adopt a koala or invest in ensuring their survival. Among other ambitions, Koala Mattress boasts over 100 workers in Australia and Japan and is strongly in favor of protecting workers’ rights.
The Eco-Friendly Industry
Along with the image of a sublime mattress brand, Koala Mattress is also a software company. Danny and Mitch felt that investing in software can do no wrong, so they created their software from scratch and called it Gum Leaf. The software mainly manages customer communications and shares information and instructions concerning logistics.
Initially, the company only sold mattresses, but during the first month, they managed to make $1 million in profits, all a result of their stellar marketing. Back in 2015, Facebook
was a hot topic and the tandem took advantage of the opportunity and marketed their company to perfection. Once the brand gained traction, the skepticism of purchasing quality items online became a myth. For the company, social media only meant growing bigger, better, and stronger.
Buying items from Koala is easier than doing so in any other furniture store. Due to the quality foam of their customized mattress, shipping takes only 4 hours before you have it in your arms. Until recently, item distribution and shipping were only available in Australia, but as the company earned $12 million in its first year, it was able to spread exponentially and did so across Europe and Asia. Today, Koala Mattress’s total funding is estimated at $500 million and the brand shows serious ambitions to penetrate the US market.
The Humane Entrepreneurs
The story of Koala Mattress and the men who made it a beloved brand name is staggeringly inspiring and goes to show that whilst every human can be an entrepreneur, not every entrepreneur can be humanity-oriented. Koala Mattress’s purpose - business, sustainability, preservation-wise has not only altered the face of Australia’s environment and the industry but also ensured the world that everyone deserves better sleep - and a better tomorrow!