Stripping your bed and changing your sheets can feel like a hassle, and if you are a college student having clean sheets isn’t your number one priority. And that’s where the inspiration for Peel Away Labs started. This startup has perfected a waterproof, multilayer, disposable bed-sheet that can be peeled away to reveal a fresh, new layered sheet. Through its patented technology, people can sleep on one fitted bedsheet for up to two months. The sheets are available for purchase in sizes ranging from crib to king, and each sheet comes with 5 peel away layers.
AlleyWatch spoke with CEO and founder Maxwell Cohen about the process of successfully raising Seed funding in a highly competitive market.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Peel Away Labs raised a seed round of $1.3M with New York Venture Partners, Alpine Meridian Ventures, and a number of New York Angels’ members participating.
After more than three years in development, Peel Away Labs’ 100% waterproof multilayer sheet makes it easy for consumers and healthcare personnel to change the bed sheets. By simply pulling down the sheet from one corner, a soiled sheet is “peeled away” in seconds to reveal a fresh one underneath. The fitted sheets are 32% softer than traditional sheets and have a breathable membrane allowing for a cooler night’s sleep. Clean, soft sheets are now less than 60 seconds away.
What inspired you to start Peel Away Labs?
The idea for Peelaways began in college when I realized my friends and fellow students weren’t changing or washing their dirty sheets because it was such a hassle. Around the same time, I also saw my grandparents struggle to change and clean their fitted bed sheets. Being disposable, there is no need to launder them.
How is Peel Away Labs different?
Peelaways are the worlds’ first multilayered disposable bed sheet for consumers and healthcare facilities.
Peelaways’ fitted sheets are available for the home, with sizes from crib to king, ranging from $15.99-$39.99. Peelaways is especially ideal for home caregivers taking care of someone with incontinence issues or children who wet the bed, to new moms who are constantly changing their newborns’ mattress protectors. Peelaways offers sheets with five to seven layers per package. With one Peelaways multilayer sheet, people can sleep on a clean and healthy sheet for up to two months.
What market does Peel Away Labs target and how big is it?
We sell to both consumer and healthcare. Major targets are countries that are low on WATER!
U.S. Retail Sales = $12.8B, the market is projected to grow by 14%, reaching sales of slightly more than 14.6B by 2018
US Healthcare Facilities = $37B is spent on linens and laundering
We now sell internationally as well where the market opportunities are even bigger.
What’s your business model?
We sell domestically and internationally to healthcare facilities and distributors, while also selling direct to consumer on our website and in retail stores like Walmart as well.
How has your appearance on Shark Tank impacted the trajectory of the business; both from a good and bad perspective?
Being on the show was an amazing experience that really kicked started the business for us. We went from filming to on air so fast that our product was still really in the beta stages, which is one of the reasons we didn’t get a deal with them but I’m confident that if we filmed today, we would.
I have had many great opportunities and have met some great people because of Shark Tank that continually airs every few months, which we can tell when we see a spike in website traffic and sales. I actually met my COO through a cold email from someone who watched the show and he’s been invaluable to getting to where we are today.
What was the funding process like?
Consumer products are very hard to find funding for especially pre-revenue. That being said we pitch over 40 groups and investors before we received our first check. The pitch deck is a living document and we kept tailoring it to become more convincing from everything we learned.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Building a business while raising capital, both are more than a fulltime job.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We continued to learn and execute on markets we believe needed our products. Over the few months of pitching started to gain more and more traction. The real kicker was we started to focus more on HEALTHCARE. I learned Healthcare is generally perceived as a big opportunity for some investors. We convinced investors that the healthcare market will need our products, and thrive from the benefits of our peel away sheets
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We have started to build relationships around the world that are now turning in to sales. We became a vendor with the top healthcare distributors in the US (within 6 weeks of pitching them) and have partnered with some of the largest in the world! Just launched Peelaways Africa and PeelAways South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and soon to be Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and India. The products are also in Walmart!
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Keep salaries low until you deserve an increase. Make sure you a runway of at least 18 months as it takes that long for any good deal to follow through. The world is large, start building an international business if possible, things happen much quicker overseas. In the USA there are so many tiers of people/opinions in order to get a deal done.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We plan on having our products distributed throughout the world!