With the world getting more personalized every day, don’t you think your sleep deserves a unique treatment as well? That’s exactly the idea behind Pluto Pillow from Shark Tank.
Let’s look at their business model, their recent successes, and also find out if they are still in business.
Until a few years ago, No one cared much about pillows. Everyone’s pillow buying checklist was pretty straightforward: soft and pillow-shaped. As we grow older, our preferences change.
Due to growing neck and back pain and many sleepless nights, It is better to update your pillow to something more customized, something that fits your specific needs.
On average, one in three Americans do not get a night of proper sleep. Sleeping is an essential process of our body, and it needs all the right ingredients to have the right impact on our lives.
A pillow is one of these ingredients. Its height, softness, covers, filling, and every aspect can differ from person to person. Then how do you find a pillow perfect for your specific needs? Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Pluto Pillow.
But what is Pluto Pillow? Who started it? Their pros and cons? Don’t worry, we got everything covered in today’s article. So, without any further ado, Let’s hop into it.
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What is Pluto Pillow, Really?
Pluto Pillow is one of the world’s first custom sleep pillow brands. Their custom pillows are made using information about your sleeping habits, preferences, and body stats.
With over 35 variations, they offer satisfaction to a variety of sleepers. Almost every pillow is different from the other, just like the head resting on it.
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Pluto Pillow’s Shark Tank Pitch (Here’s What Happened)
With initial success, Susana and Kevin presented their idea on the US TV show Shark Tank to request funding.
They presented Pluto Pillow as a customized pillow maker, making personalized pillows different for each customer, using questionnaires and patent-pending algorithms to make pillows for each customer.
They vowed the Sharks with the 35 types of pillows based on just inner foam and outer plush layer and the fact that they have been selling a high number of pillows with low return rates since the start of the company.
Pluto made around $197,000 in sales in 2018 and $473,000 in 2019, and halfway through 2020, they already had $490,000 as sales revenue.
After their pitch, they requested $400,000 in exchange for a 5% stake in their company, making them value at approximately $8 Million. This high valuation made things difficult for them in front of the Sharks.
Lori Greiner opted out due to huge competition in the pillow industry and the high selling price of each pillow, at $95 plus $18 for delivery. The average cost of making a pillow was around $43, making it only 50% profit on each pillow. This amount was low for sharks to grow in the future.
Mark Cuban, Susana and Kevin’s dream investor, opted out of the deal as he did not see them using machine learning enough to predict their delivery.
Daniel Lubertzy refused to make any deals for the same reason. Kevin O’Leary, Mr. Nice Guy, also opted out due to the high valuation.
Only Robert Herjavec remained in the end. He pointed out that though Pluto was underutilizing its algorithm, the company is still very young and in its learning stage. He stated that he had more confidence in Susana and Kevin to figure out the future but was still not decided on the valuation.
Herjavec offered them a changed deal of the same amount, $400,000 but in exchange for a 20% stake in the company. This change reduced their valuation to $2 Million.
The duo tried to negotiate the offer, going for as far as a 9% stake (valuation to be $4.44 Million), but Herjavec didn’t budge. Cuban even advised them to refuse the deal if they felt the valuation was too low for them.
In the end, the pair refused the deal and walked away without any deal. But they earned respect from all the sharks.
Pluto Pillow AFTER Shark Tank
The founder pair continued to work for Pluto’s success, despite not getting a deal on the Shark Tank.
With an organic marketing growth on social media and media boost from being on TV, they have gained many customers.
After Shark Tank, they have further on into three funding seed rounds and are now being backed by three major VC investors. Its current valuation still stands at $8 Million, which shows they are envisioned but not too far-sighted in its growth margin.
Since the company’s start, they have achieved approximately $5 Million in revenue, despite the high cost of its pillows. Showing that the company is growing organically while delivering a high customer experience.
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Meet the Pluto Pillow Founders
Susana Saeliu and Kevin Li started Pluto Pillow in March 2018. Saeliu, a University of Southern California Marshall School of Business graduate, worked in a retail store during college.
She noticed that premium bedroom items mainly consisted of bedsheets and mattresses. But pillows were not part of the premium bedroom items.
During the same time, Saeliu was getting neck pain and noticed her pillow as the main culprit behind her sleep struggle.
At that time, the customizable mattresses started getting buzz as the next thing for good sleep, but the new upcoming brands also did not include pillows as their product.
She worked on gaining knowledge of pillow-making and the effect of different pillow types on sleep. With her friend and Current COO Kevin Li, Saeliu left her full-time job and started Pluto Pillow.
Kevin Li grew up in an entrepreneurial background. After graduating from the University of California with a computational and data science degree, he started working in an electronic distribution company, gaining business management skills.
When Susana approached him with her pillow problem, he saw an opportunity to use data to build a custom pillow.
Using their retail experience, they understood the importance of eco-friendly materials. They also spent many hours researching, interviewing customers on preferences, and consulting with chiropractors to understand neck and body pain.
Even with the high time and cost spent in development, they consciously decided not to get crowdfunded, opting for self-funding instead.
Using social media platforms, they advertised the product launch heavily to reach millennials, who they identified as their prime customers.
Their target audience was supposed to be women, but surprisingly, men were ordering the most. By the next two quarters, they sold around 2500 pillows, over-achieving their goal by 40 days.
Their return rate is about eight percent, compared to the 12.5% industry average of returned house items. They plan to introduce a king-size pillow option and improve their survey to get better output for their customers.
They also have a big plan to pre-make common pillows and store them to reduce customer waiting time.
How Pluto Pillow Makes Their Pillow
You must fill out a form and give your details on their official website. These are general details like your height, weight, sleeping side, recent pillow experience, and preferences. Based on your answers, their algorithm comes up with the pillow best suited for you.
Each pillow comprises two components, the inner foam layer, and the outer plush layer. The algorithm selects the type of layers, then picked by a pillow maker, who will make your custom pillow by hand.
Pluto does not disclose what type of pillow was designed for its customers. Even after checkout, or delivery, they do not disclose the details of the customized pillow.
According to Pluto, a lot of work goes into making your pillow, and they are protective of their secret sauce.
The Material Used in a Pluto Pillow
Each Pluto Pillow is made with a combination of the inner foam layer and outer plush layer. While the inner foam is high-performance, the outer plush layer is made of polyester fibers.
Both the layers are customized based on your answers. These layers can be smooth, patterned, firm, cooling, or even have a variety of thread counts.
All foam used by them is CertiPUR-US certified (they are made without using harmful chemicals like Ozone depleters, mercury, lead, and formaldehyde).
Trial and Warranty Offered by Pluto Pillow
Even though everybody needs to adjust to a new pillow, that process can take time. Pluto offers a 110-night trial period.
If you are still unsatisfied, you can request a return within two weeks of the pillow delivery. Pluto states they are ready to help with return shipping and can provide the full refund within 1-2 working days.
The pillow was custom-made for you, so Pluto will not be selling the returned pillow to any other customer. They will donate the pillow or otherwise recycle it.
Please note that Pluto’s return policy is limited to one product from each category pillow per household per year. The customer must request this return within 110 days of the delivery.
Pluto also gives a repair and replacement warranty for defective pieces. You can request a change up to one year from the date you purchased the pillow.
This warranty will cover any flaw in the physical material of the pillow, manufacturing defects, line tear, and zipper issues.
Please note that the warranty policy of Pluto will not cover if the issue was created from the pillow’s normal use or if the customer does any damage.
Pluto Pillow’s Pros and Cons
- As per their company motto, they provide a truly customized pillow.
- The website and questionnaire are super easy to follow.
- Their customer service is good and friendly.
- The trial period offered is quite long as compared to their competitors.
- High-quality foam and fabric materials are used in making their pillow.
- As compared to a regular pillow and their competition, Pluto Pillow is more expensive.
- They do not disclose the pillow composition even after the delivery of the pillow.
- Customers have complained that the cooling cover is not very effective.
How TV Coverage Benefited Pluto Pillow
Pluto Pillow also received several awards –
- House Beautiful Magazine: The 2020 Live Better Award
- Architectural Digest: 5 Products to Help You Sleep When You’re Anxious
- Oprah Daily: Best Gifts for a New Dad or Dad-To-Be
One of the biggest highlights is that Pluto featured and won Good Housekeeping 2022 Best Bedding award in the Huggable Body Pillow category.
Their product is called Pluto Puff, which is an oversized pillow that was featured on the website. They compared Puff to a soft stuffed animal for adults.
Where can you buy Pluto Pillow?
Pluto has an official website where you can visit and fill out their questionnaire. They also partner with Alibaba to sell their custom pillow.
Due to the pillows being custom-made for everyone, they do not sell pillows on third-party online retailers like Amazon and eBay and physical stores.
Where are they located?
Pluto Pillow is based out in Sherman Oaks, California. They do not have a customer service phone number but are available by email.
For any doubts, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions, thoughts, or anything you’d like to discuss.
They also have a live chat option on their website, which is available weekly between 9 am – 5 pm PT.
Pluto Pillow’s Competitors
1. Casper Foam Pillow
Casper Sleep is an e-commerce website selling sleep-related products online and in retail stores. One of the main differences is their products are pre-made.
The Casper Foam Pillow is specially designed to ensure the sleepers’ comfort and coolness all year round. It comprises three-layer memory foam that helps in neck and body alignment.
The pillow also comes with cooling bands to keep the pillow cool, even after 12 hours of contact. The outer layer comprises hundreds of perforations to lock heat on the outside and keep both sides cool and sweat-free.
You can choose between standard and king sizes. The material used by them is of high quality and certified by CertiPUR-US. They also offer a 100-day trial period.
This pillow has been noted to work great for people having neck or back pain. Many customers also note the cooling factor.
But one of the biggest complaints about this pillow is from people who sleep on their back. The pillow is too stiff and takes a lot of time to adjust to a person’s neck and body.
2. Coop Home Good Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods is also a startup focusing on premium quality bedding products.
Coop Home Good Eden Pillow is a down pillow, meaning it’s filled with feathers. Eden comprises shredded memory foam infused with cooling gel to reduce heating.
The pillow is designed for people who sleep on their back or side and if they are looking for a cooling pillow. Meanwhile, it is not a great choice for people who sleep on their stomachs.
The pillow material is usually medium-firm, so it does not help in neck and body pain or alignment. Overall, it’s a medium-feel pillow and very moldable in use.
Another important feature of a pillow is the Pillow loft or its height. Every person has different requirements for a pillow loft.
Coop Home provides extra foam to increase the loft of your pillow, making it DIY adjustable. You can remove some foam to reduce it down to our preference.
One area where Coop Home Eden pillow lacks is for people who sleep on their stomachs side. They may require a pillow much softer than this. The loft of this pillow is also high, which can hurt the stomach sleepers’ neck and body.
They come in two sizes—Queen size for $84 and king size for $93.Cood Home Eden is a good pillow for back and side sleepers due to its firmness and cozy feeling. Its also easy to remove and clean, making it better for allergic people.
3. Saybrook Adjustable Pillow
Saybrook claims its Adjustable pillow to be called ‘The Lion Down Alternative. Usually, Down Pillow is filled with a blend of shredded memory foam and polyester fiber, but Saybrook has kept the proportion of memory foam much higher.
The memory foam used by them is also of higher quality. This high proportion of memory foam results in the pillow in medium softness. But this softness remains the same for a long time.
Saybrook pillows are delivered as separate pieces of outer covering and fillings. So you can directly check the material of the foam and fill the pillow yourself.
They also deliver a measuring cup to help provide the perfect loft you want from your pillow. A downside is that they do not send extra filling, so you may need to order extra if you think you will require a pillow with more loft.
This pillow is good for back or side sleepers due to its firmness, but not so much for stomach sleepers. The outer pillow covering is made from bamboo fabric and is completely washable, making it a great choice as environmentally conscious.
4. Sleep and Glow Beauty Pillow
With new technology and research, new types of pillows are being introduced. Did you know you can buy a pillow that states it can be anti-aging and anti-wrinkles?
Instead of focusing on memory foam inner filling or cooling outer layer, these pillows are unique in design. They are specifically created to reduce stress and unblock any pores or sinuses.
They are great for both back and side sleepers, even for those who change their position frequently in the middle of their sleep.
According to dermatologists, if you often sleep on your side, you will develop wrinkles faster due to much pressure on your face.
The shape of the pillow resembles the little H turned to its side and has six sleeping zones. Each zone is designed to its benefit.
Some zones are places to put your head where it either prevents you from sleeping in a side position or supports you are in that position already. Other zones also support head, shoulders, and body alignment.
Usually filled with memory foam, the covering of this pillow is not removable. So you may have trouble in washing it. Another issue is the price tag. $ 159 is quite expensive for a pillow.
And the results are extremely slow to see. But its unique shape and design make it a worthy experiment you try on your dime.
5. Fort Magnetic Pillow
Straight out, this is not a pillow for adults. This is made for kids who love building pillow forts and playing.
By Fort, a fellow Shark Tank presenter and founded by Conor B. Lewis. He crafted a toy that almost every kid has, and every kid wants it to be.
Fort Pillows are of different sizes and have a magnet inside to hook different pillows together. These magnets are strong to hold the weight of an average kid.
Each set will come with 12 different fun-sized pillows, which could be molded into shapes like a house, castle, slide, or even a standard couch. The only limiting factor here is your imagination. Each pillow is light enough to be moved easily.
Folks with young kids can go for this piece of sleep/play item. Big in size, they will not clutter your home and are perfectly safe for your kids to sleep in.
If you have constant neck and upper body pain, making it difficult to sleep, you should try Pluto. Its custom design is specially made for you, based on your instruction.
A high trial and return period make it more worth trying and a risk-free option.