Pluto Pillow Before Shark Tank
Statistically, about one in three Americans struggle to get a good night’s rest each night. This could be due to a variety of reasons like neck or back pain, which comes from laying in an uncomfortable position for hours on end. Pillows are one of the biggest necessities that should be considered. If neck or back pain is present, it’s likely that the pillow isn’t suiting the individual’s needs. When choosing the right pillow, things like the firmness, height, filling, and even the pillowcase should be considered. The perfect pillow differs from person to person and every consumer needs something custom made, hence why Pluto Pillow has been created to ensure everyone gets what they need in order to sleep peacefully.
Pluto Pillow is a personalized pillow brand that takes a customer’s needs and preferences and designs a custom pillow from it. Pluto Pillows consist of a plush outer layer and a foam inner layer. Based on one’s statistics and preferences, these two layers are customized. The options include firm, patterned, cooling, and smooth, though customers can also choose to have multiple unique thread counts. Additionally, the materials used to customize Pluto Pillows are free from mercury, lead, formaldehyde, and ozone depletion. To get a custom pillow, customers will be asked to complete a questionnaire, which asks for information such as the individuals height, weight, preferences, sleeping position, and more. With this information, Pluto Pillows algorithm will present the customer will a breakdown of the ideal pillow for them.
Launched in 2018, Pluto Pillow was founded by Susana Saeliu and Kevin Li. Susana graduated from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. During her time at college, she worked in retail, where she had witnessed how few pillows were being sold in the store. After she graduated, she started her first business, Kora Brand, where she was selling bath tissues made from bamboo. Long story short, her first business was a success, though she ended up selling it to start a new business called Tradex Marketplace. This second business venture consisted of Susana working with feedback from customers and conducting returns. After receiving a variety of feedback from unhappy customers who had bought pillows, she noticed that none were being returned. Similarly, when it came to Susana looking for a new pillow for herself, she was introduced to a wide variety; however, they were usually all the same and they never worked for her.
Co-founder, Kevin Li, also experienced the same problems when it came to pillows. Before partnering with Susana, Kevin graduated from the University of California, where he gained his degree in computational and data science. Following his graduation, he got a job with an electronic distribution company. Fortunately, this job provided him with the information needed to manage a business; therefore, when Susana introduced him to the idea for Pluto Pillow, he was ready to team up. After noticing how popular personalized mattresses were becoming, Susana and Kevin thought about creating a personalized pillow as there weren’t many on the market thus far.
After conducting much research, the founders began working towards creating their first prototypes. They consulted physical therapists, chiropractors, and more to determine the best materials and design to use. This was when Pluto Pillow was born, which was the main intention in helping women; however, men seemed to be purchasing the pillows more. Susana and Kevin started Pluto Pillow with their own money and some social media advertising. Within a little over a month, the business had sold 2,500 custom pillows. With some orders being similar, the founders want to create pre-made inventory of the most popular versions to have as an option when ordering. Nonetheless, the founders are seeking better distribution to grow their business further. Who better to help them than a shark.
Pluto Pillow on Shark Tank
Susana Saeliu and Kevin Li appeared on Shark Tank to present their customizable Pluto Pillows. They are seeking a $400,000 deal for 5% of their business. This implies that their business has an $8 million valuation already. The founders showcase personalized pillows for the sharks while they tell them about the concept behind them based on the shark’s preferences. They also told the sharks about their return policy, though they haven’t gotten many returns being requested. Instead, they’ve received an increase in their sales. When Susana and Kevin launched Pluto Pillow in 2018, they did $197,000 in sales, and another $473,000 in 2019. So far, in 2020, they have done $490,000 worth of sales. At the time of the Shark Tank episode filming, it was only halfway through the 2020 year, so their sales were likely to boost drastically following their appearance on the episode.
Though the sharks were surprised due to the valuation of the company, they liked the sales numbers. This is when Susana and Kevin share that the custom pillows cost them up to $30 to create and they sell for $95, with an additional $18 to cover shipping. Lori Greiner goes out almost immediately after hearing this. She states that the pillows are expensive and that the pillow industry is too competitive for her. Mark Cuban follows Lori out of the deal after encouraging the founders to consider stockpiling the most common pillows. Additionally, Kevin wasn’t happy with the $8 million valuation. Next, guest shark Daniel Lubetzky goes out after sharing that Pluto Pillow is like other brands.
By this time, Robert Herjavec was the only shark still in on the deal. While Robert believes that Susana and Kevin aren’t using the Pluto Pillow algorithm in the best way, he does think that they have the potential to improve that aspect. This led him to offer them $400,000 for a 20% equity in the company. However, the founders felt that a 20% equity was too high for them. Given that, they decided to decline Robert’s offer, leaving Pluto Pillow to leave Shark Tank without a deal. It’s unclear whether this decision was the right decision, but it did win over the shark’s respect for the business.
Pluto Pillow Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
Although Pluto Pillow left Shark Tank without a deal, they are thriving in 2023. While this is a short update, it’s all good news for this business. Susana Saeliu and Kevin Li continue to work towards their custom pillow success full-time. And, as suggested, Pluto Pillow’s publicity on the episode gained them a drastic increase in sales once more. Customers have made the business a popular option when looking for a new pillow. The business has even received 4.8 stars and many satisfied customers leaving great reviews. The founders have continued working with three investors and they are planning to launch a variety of new additions to their website. One being a new sleep survey for customers. In addition to that, Susana and Kevin would like to allow customers the opportunity to create their own pillows themselves. As of 2023, the business has a net worth of about $600,000 and they’ve been successful in being featured in publications such as Essence, Oprah Daily, Cosmopolitan, and the House Beautiful Magazine.