The NYU Innovation Venture Fund completed its 12th investment last month with an investment in Brooklinen. Founded by Rich Fulop (Stern BS '07 & Stern MBA '14), Brooklinen is a direct-to-consumer home goods brand specializing in quality bed linens. Here's the story of how the company got started.
Ever look at something and think to yourself: Well, that doesn't make sense? Whether it's a clunky, unintuitive design, a key missing feature, or an unreasonably inflated price tag, we've all been there. Rich Fulop had one of these moments two years ago when he learned the comfortable bed sheets he slept on during a hotel stay retailed for over $800. After some digging, he found that the bedsheets' high price tag was a result of designer licensing fees, middlemen costs, and other expenses unrelated to what made them so comfortable. Intrigued by the opportunity, he continued his research, identified potential suppliers around the world, and personally tested over 100 different fabrics. By the next year, he was certain he could produce and sell comparable bedsheets for a fraction of the price.
Once Rich knew he could produce the bedsheets he wanted, he needed to make sure he wasn't one of only a select few people that wanted them. Startups have had success competing on value in other industries, Dollar Shave Club vs. Gillette with razor blades and Warby Parker vs. Luxottica with eyewear to name a few, but was there an appetite for bedsheets? The fledgling company took to Kickstarter to find out. With the help of friends and good press, Brooklinen found over 1,700 people that were willing to put over $230,000 into seeing these sheets made. With some early validation, the company was accepted into the NYU Summer Launchpad to test its assumptions about what customers wanted and further develop its brand. By the end of the ten week program, Brooklinen had experimented with various price points, compared messaging to men and women, and developed a digital marketing and PR strategy.
Rich and Brooklinen's story exemplifies what it means to be an entrepreneur: acting on an insight to solve a problem people care about. Since launching in October 2014, Brooklinen has expanded its offerings beyond bedsheets, differentiated itself from competitors old and new, and grown a community of followers around its brand.