Rather than selling their mattresses in big-name retail locations, the brothers behind Purple adopted a revolutionary direct-to-consumer model that eliminates the costs associated with middlemen. Terry and Tony Pearce founded Purple in 2015, initially raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign. Since then, a number of other mattress companies have followed the brothers’ disruptive marketing and distribution approach. However, Purple’s innovations also extend to its mattresses.
Both engineers, the Pearce brothers originally partnered in 1989, combining their aerospace and high-tech materials experience to develop sporting equipment and wheelchairs. By the 1990s, the team had turned their attention to creating the world’s lightest fluid foam and found high-profile customers for their product in Nike, Johnson & Johnson and Top-Flite. They went on to design an advanced elastic polymer which was used globally for Stryker Medical beds, Svane by Ekornes consumer mattresses in Europe, Sleepmaker mattresses in Australia, Dr. Scholl’s Massaging Gels and Japan’s Francebed products. In 2013, the brothers began developing the product that would set in motion their philosophy of selling high-quality mattresses at one-fourth the usual cost.
In 2017, Purple became the first mattress start-up to go public through their merger with a publicly traded investment shell company. The valuation at the time of the transaction was $1.1 billion.