With everyone wanting to track their sleep and find out why they are so tired throughout their day, we are slowly realizing little by little that sleep-tracking apps are not doing the trick. Whether it is tracking your wrist, sleep “waves” or your snoring, its just not giving you the whole picture. What we need is a sleep tracker that is actually with you while you sleep. Introducing Eight’s sleep tracking mattress cover giving you a complete picture of your night of sleep. Just put the mattress cover on and sleep soundly knowing that you are being tracked as precisely as possible.
We spoke with Matteo Franceschetti about his 2nd round of funding as well as what separates Eight from the rest.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Eight has raised $6M in seed funding to date and our investors include Y Combinator, Yunqui Partners, Azure Capital, Cota Capital, Comcast Ventures, Vast Ventures, Stanford University, Galvanize Ventures, Idea Bulb VC, Y Combinator partner and Scribd co-founder Jared Friedman.
Tell us about your product or service.
Eight is the technology company changing the future of sleep. The Eight Sleep Tracker is the first-ever non-wearable smart mattress cover that uses healthgrade data to provide insights on individual sleep habits and take action on behalf of the user to change bedroom conditions to the settings optimal for your best night’s sleep.
What inspired you to start the company?
My own sleep problems. I’ve been struggling to sleep well for many years, and had tried different wearable and app sleep trackers to try and find out what my sleep patterns are and why I wasn’t sleeping well, but none of these options worked. They have many deficiencies: they must be worn, charged, placed in the bed, you must remember to wear them or place them each night and while they tell you how to sleep, they don’t yield accurate data. As a result, I sought out to build a device that addressed these issues and went beyond just individual sleep tracking. Sleep is so personal, and technology has the power to personalize the solutions for better sleep, which, until now, have been a one-size-fits-all.
How is it different?
The Eight Sleep Tracker is the first non-wearable sleep tracker that fits in naturally with your lifestyle. The healthgrade data it gathers about your sleep hygiene helps each person discover what his/her personal sleep quantity is and the optimal conditions in which to achieve it, empowering each customer with the knowledge to live healthier and more enriched lives. Eight also goes beyond just sleep tracking, by adapting your environment to the conditions that help you sleep best: from setting bed and bedroom temperature, to waking you up at the right time every morning.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Our market is the sleep aid market. It’s a $27B market.
What’s your business model?
We sell hardware and software services (through our app) direct to consumers. We are also exploring licensing opportunities and distribution partnerships in the B2B space.
How much more accurate is your product than a FitBit or Apple Watch?
Just by the fact that we track your sleep every night, for long periods of time, Eight is much more accurate due to machine learning. Only tracking and reviewing information from one night at a time is not helpful because there is no benchmark. Most of these other devices are telling you to sleep X number of hours based on what is recommended for the general public, but they have not figured out what works for you, individually.
Also, these devices are primarily basing their sleep tracking on the movement of your wrist – some occasionally use heart rate data as well. What we do is use ballistocardiography to get much more accurate raw data about your body, which we then filter until we get clear data points on factors like movement, heart rate, and breathing rate. We benchmark our accuracy level to ECGs and pneumographs. Those devices are our real benchmarks for the accuracy level we strive to achieve.
What was the funding process like?
Our Indiegogo campaign kicked off our funding process and then after we graduated from Y Combinator this past summer, we closed our seed round. We are lucky to have great investors on board who, most importantly, believe in what we are doing and are our biggest cheerleaders.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Early on in the process it was hard to challenge the perception of being founders that don’t “fit the mold.” None of the four founders graduated from universities in the U.S., three of us are Italian, one is Mexican and we are all in our 30s. We’ve followed unconventional paths and have sold companies in different industries that are not consumer hardware, but we were lucky to eventually find investors that saw beyond this and believed in us and our vision. And then, of course, there is always the challenge of raising money for consumer hardware. It’s challenging, cycles for new products are longer than software and not every investor does deals in hardware, so you have to seek out the ones that do.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Investors believe in the approach we are taking to improve the way people sleep. We start with powerful data and we use this to create software services that will improve sleep and, by consequence, people’s health. Additionally, we go beyond just tracking your sleep to actually adjusting your environment to ensure a restful night. Finally, we are integrated into your everyday life in the most seamless way possible, by being on your bed.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Fulfill all of our pre-orders, release new software-based features, and grow our distribution.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Don’t limit your fundraising to New York only, and don’t think that the only other place to get money is Silicon Valley, either. There are a lot of great investors outside these two hubs, both domestically and internationally. Investors in other countries like China can be extremely helpful beyond funding, especially if you are building hardware.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We want to be on as many beds as possible, to gather as much sleep data as we can and leverage this to improve our product and release more software-based features that can guide people to a better night’s sleep. We are on a mission to create a blueprint for sleep and see ourselves as a leader in the indsutry.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Tiny’s. It’s right around the corner from our office, so it has become a team favorite.