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This startup is really putting people to sleep

You might have been strolling down Abbott Kinney Boulevard in the heart of trendy Venice and noticed their showroom, where passersby are invited to stop in, make themselves at home, and take a little nap. You might even have friends who’ve ordered a new Casper mattress and now seem to be enjoying their nightly slumber far more than you’re enjoying yours.

So what's the deal with Casper?

A quirky startup whose star is on the rise, Casper is a New York-based company with its sights set on disrupting the modern mattress marketplace. Casper aims to replace the drudgery, confusion and frustration of the traditional mattress shopping experience with a simpler and arguably more pleasant process free from unnecessary sales gimmicks and seedy practices.

Basically, the Casper mattress is meant for people whose first choice of recreational activity is not driving around town to different stores, lying on mattresses and haggling with salespeople. Customers can order the Casper mattress online (check out Casper.com), and a few days later it arrives at their door via courier, compressed in a large box and ready to be opened, unrolled and slept on.

The Casper mattress is available in six sizes — twin, twin XL, full, queen, king and Cal king — but in just one style of firmness. Made of memory foam, latex foam and no springs whatsoever, the Casper mattress is calibrated to appeal to all types of sleepers, according to the company’s literature.

Casper cofounder and chief of product Jeff Chapin said it wasn’t without plenty of research of both the scientific and trial-and-error variety that the company settled on the optimal mattress design to provide the most comfortable sleeping experience to the most people. The brunt of the research, however, didn’t take place in a sealed-off laboratory. It was conducted through lots and lots of conversations with real human beings.

“It's important to get other people’s experiences and opinions and thoughts to inform the thing that you're making,” Chapin said. “Everything we do in human-centered design — from focus groups to product testing to surveys to one-on-one interviews — we do so that we can do the work for people and make that smart decision, that smart design, for them.”

It was through insight gathered from plenty of sleepy A/B testing that the perfect combination of materials and the ideal mattress construction were determined. Casper researchers, who were pleasantly surprised to find that most people tended to like the same firmness in a mattress, were able to craft a sleeping surface with ideal airflow and four layers of foam providing just the right sink and just the right bounce.

Thus the Casper mattress was born, and so was a new way of thinking about mattresses in general.

With the Casper mattress, the company has made a bet that a comfortable yet practical product, a simplified buying experience, and personalized customer service can combine to reinvent how we shop for sleep. In the process, Casper might even make a sizeable dent in the $14 billion mattress industry, where head-spinning, unnecessary variety has customers across the United States falling down on beds in what is perhaps a case of severe exhaustion rather than enthusiastic comparison-shopping.

“Most people converge on actually liking the same mattress, which is counterintuitive to what we're told,” Chapin said.

For a limited time, L.A. Times readers can take advantage of a $50 discount on any Casper mattress by entering promo code LAT50 at the point of purchase on Casper.com.

—Alex Weber for Casper

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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