Your freshman year of college is a series of new experiences that help you learn and grow. For Steven Van Alen, it was life in student housing that opened his eyes and inspired the idea behind his student-focused business.
Van Alen is both a hard-working student continuing his studies at San Diego State University and the Founder and CEO of college mattress topper brand, Sleepyhead. If he could share one tip, he wished he would have known as a first-year student, it would be to come prepared for that campus housing-issued mattress.
He realized the beds in student housing and furnished apartments were substandard and unhygienic. Having no choice but to sleep on the old, used and uncomfortable mattresses provided by the university, students were using mattress toppers to go on top of the provided beds, yet there were so many questions about finding the right topper.
“The mattress toppers available to today’s students do very little to help,” Van Alen said. “I watched my friends, classmates and myself suffer from a lack of sleep due to substandard sleeping solutions. Colleges prohibit students from replacing their mattresses, so the only solution was a better mattress topper, and that’s when Sleepyhead was born.”
For students by students
The company is for students by students and offers mattress toppers that fit the standard Twin XL mattress size, and at a student-friendly price point. Sleepyhead doesn’t sacrifice quality either. Mattress toppers contain a proprietary memory foam – CertiPUR-US certified foam, which is tested to be free of any harmful toxins and materials. The memory foam also supports pressure points and posture so students can get a comfortable sleep, even when it’s after pulling an all-nighter or a power nap between classes.
Sleepyhead has already become a trusted brand by over 900 universities nationwide and just in time for students heading back to school for a new academic year. The company introduced the most advanced and comfortable copper-infused mattress topper on the market, the Copper Topper, which contains memory foam and nanotechnology to help protect students from bacteria, dust mites and uncomfortable used mattresses. Meanwhile their gel memory foam topper contains gel to help channel heat away from the body leaving you cool and comfortable.
Aside from providing sleeping solutions for success and supporting students’ dreams, the brand offers their “Good Till Graduation” five-year warranty on all mattress toppers. This means, from first-year students living in the dorms until graduation, Sleepyhead will be by your side.
In this line of business, Van Alen is using his age and college experience to his advantage and his talent isn’t going unnoticed. He’s working with four high profile investors and operators, who are current and past executives for companies such as:LoveSac, Goldman Sachs, Starwood Hotels and Coca-Cola.
“Our investors are high net worth individuals, with world class operating skills and financial backgrounds,” Van Alen said. “We are so fortunate to have these guys on board this early in the game.”
A good night’s sleep
No matter how successful Van Alen’s future business becomes, he wants to make sure Sleepyhead doesn’t stop at innovative mattress toppers. With the philosophy that everyone deserves a good night’s sleep, he founded the company as a hybrid between a corporation and a non-profit.
While substandard mattresses at college were certainly a concern, the knowledge of so many less fortunate who didn’t have a mattress to sleep on hit Van Alen close to home when he found out his sister was homeless, pregnant and a college student at the time. While she was provided government housing, she had no furnishings or the means to buy them.
With the thought of his sister sleeping on the concrete floor while being nine months pregnant, Van Alen knew he had to do something to help, not just her, but the thousands of students who fall on hard times. For this reason, this CEO under 30 takes pride in the fact that Sleepyhead is a benefit corporation, donating one product for every ten sold to an anti-poverty non-profit organization.
Thanks to Van Alen, student residents are no longer an ignored demographic in the sleep space. With this type of buzz early on in the start-up game, look for Sleepyhead to further revolutionize the sleep industry for college students and university housing.
Visit Sleepyhead on Instagram, @sleepyheadusa. Purchase one for yourself … and maybe your roommate online at www.sleepyheadusa.com.