Following a number of negative purchasing experiences when searching for his own mattress, Michal Szlas, 25, launched bed-in-a-box company OTTY last year. Despite its relative infancy, the company has already enjoyed a number of accolades – such as receiving a Which? Best Buy award this January. Furniture News finds out more about the man behind the brand …
How did you enter the trade?
As a keen free runner, I was leading an active lifestyle with a goal of keeping fit and healthy. In 2016, I was on the lookout for a mattress that would help me rest and aid recovery, but I quickly realised that buying a mattress was a confusing experience, full of false marketing claims and high prices.
I set out to make the perfect mattress at the right price, offering a better product than other bed-in-a-box brands, and in late 2016, after almost a year of trialing and testing prototypes, I launched OTTY.
Who was your inspiration?
I can’t say there’s been just one sole person who’s inspired me. Many people I’ve met along the way have instilled in me the confidence to work hard and make sure that everything I do is to the best of my ability.
What was you career high point?
Despite being in the sector for less than three years, I’ve experienced quite a few amazing moments. While the official launch of OTTY was a great personal achievement, being awarded the Which? Best Buy award for Best Mattress in January this year was definitely a high point, and I was honoured to receive such a prestigious accreditation for one of my products.
… and low point?
Luckily, I’ve not suffered any low points as of yet – touch wood! I’m a firm believer of taking everything as a lesson, though. Everyone makes some mistakes along of the way, and if you keep pushing through the tough times, you’re bound to be better than when you started.
… and the turning point?
When my own negative experiences of buying a mattress led to me moving from the mobile phone accessory industry to creating and selling my own mattresses.
Describe a typical working day
I’m sure this answer gets said a lot, but no two days are ever the same. I’m a very hands-on CEO and I’m involved in almost all the processes, which often sees me pulled around the office.
Recently, we’ve launched new marketing campaigns and a new website, begun working with new couriers, and are currently preparing for the opening of our new offices in Germany and the Netherlands – so it really has been a busy few months for the team and I!
We’re also undergoing a substantial growth period at OTTY, and lately my time has increasingly been spent interviewing new members of staff.
If you had to start over, you’d probably pursue which career?
I’d still be in the mattress industry. I’ve absolutely loved my time in the sector, and the reviews from customers who say their sleep or their health have improved because of our mattress is a blessing – it makes spending long hours in the office worthwhile.
What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
For me, I love the 3rd January – it’s the beginning of the best sales month of the year, and is often the start of a period of company development!
What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
Consumer knowledge often gets distorted by a number of mixed messages – that’s something that I noticed before launching OTTY, and it’s something we’re trying our best to help rectify.
What company do you most look up to?
They’re completely unrelated to beds, but I’m a huge fan of Virgin and Tesla. I love their ambition and drive to create revolutionary products and experiences, as well as their quirky marketing strategies.
What would you most like to change about yourself?
At the moment, I’m working long hours for six days a week. I’d love to be able to switch off for a little bit and reorganise my business and personal life, but I can’t.
I love what I do, and I’m driven to help bring a change to the sleep industry.
What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
I enjoy being able to give our customers a good night’s sleep. I know first hand how sleep can affect your work ethic and energy level, so there’s no better feeling than reading reviews from customers saying our products have enriched their sleeping pattern or improved their health.
Leave us with an industry anecdote please
It’s not so much an anecdote, but ever since I was young, this quote by Warren Buffet has stuck in my mind and helped to drive my ambition: “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”