Why Wakefit's Ankit Garg believes experimentation, finding the product-market fit, and validation are vital

In this episode of 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Ankit Garg, Director and Co-founder of Wakefit, talks about his entrepreneurial journey, his failures and successes, and starting up Wakefit.
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Ankit Garg, Director and Co-founder of Wakefit, believes that it is better to fail in the early stages after starting up rather than after some time because it would mean “devastation of the whole thing”. 

Failure is part and parcel of an entrepreneur’s journey. Ankit has learned this the hard way – his first startup shut down within six months of its launch.

After working at an MNC as a salesman for four years, Ankit wanted to build something of his own. Months of research led him to develop a differentiated way of making foam for the automotive industry. He launched this in the market; the product was well received and he secured funding immediately to set up a factory.

However, the growth didn’t last long as another big MNC working in the same segment entered India and Ankit lost his customer base.

“I was capable of selling my product at 160 per kg with profits. In the first month, we were at Rs 10 lakh and then Rs 20 lakh and Rs 25 lakh but then a big MNC came in and they were cooking (working on) almost the same strategies that I was but at a very large scale.

"They happened to come with this strategy in India and disrupt me. I couldn’t sell our product and within six months of starting up, I had to kind of wind up. That became the worst phase of my life,” he says.

Ankit reveals that the incident pushed him into depression. He went then went to Mumbai where he survived by selling pasta on the roadside and eventually began working at a startup. 

Ankit Garg and Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-founders of Wakefit

What led to Wakefit?

Later in 2014-15, while Ankit was looking for a job, he visited a D2C brand’s showroom to purchase a mattress. Having worked as a B2B chemical salesman, he knew that mattresses worth Rs 2,000 were often sold at Rs 10,000.

“That was a moment I realised that the industry was very inefficient and something was broken in the entire supply chain. I decided to work on mattresses as a piece. But with my previous experience of failing one time, I think I learned the very hard way thatyou must innovate, test in the market, and only then look further,” he says.

Ankit began with the idea of selling mattresses in December 2014 while working a day job. After a year of experimentation, finding the right product-market fit, validation, saving up, and accumulating funds, he decided to pursue the business and officially launched Wakefit in 2016.  

“You might have heard a lot of advice that one should 100 percent work on a startup and one can’t be working at the same time. I think very differently. I feel there is no shame in working as an employee and spending time on building ideas probably over the weekend. I literally did that from December 2014,” he says.

Today, Wakefit is one of the most popular D2C brands in India. It recorded 2X growth in one year, clocking in Rs 410 crore revenue, and is on track to register Rs 700 crore in annual revenue

All Wakefit products are manufactured in-house across nine factories in Bengaluru, Jodhpur, and Delhi.   It mostly sells its products online via Amazon and its own website, and also has more than 22 experience centres.

In this episode of 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Ankit Garg, Director and Co-founder of Wakefit, talks about his entrepreneurial journey, his failures and successes, and starting up Wakefit.

To know more, listen to the entire podcast here

Notes: 

02:58 – Getting a taste of failure early on

09:05 – Working on your idea part-time during the early phase

12:25 – Building a D2C vs B2B company

15:17 – Initial pricing experiment of selling mattresses on Amazon

18:16 – Core habit of talking to customers

22:10 – Focus on NPS and customer happiness

25:23 – Removing inefficiencies in the product to offer better prices

26:17 – Revenue growth over the years

32:09 – Approach while reaching out to investors

36:13 – Wakefit’s 100 Nights Trial campaign

48:01 – Wakefit’s sleep campaign

50:30 – Advice for D2C founders


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Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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