We talked to Tobias Kirchhoff of Variowell Development on how they are shaping the future of sleep and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tobias Kirchhoff: Pretty fine. We are still in some kind of lockdown here in Germany, but somehow one gets used to it. Thankfully death rates are diminishing with the vaccinations.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Variowell Development.
Tobias Kirchhoff: My grandfather founded a real textile company with people and machinery for sleep-products (quilts). We sold that company decades ago, but it is an interesting feeling to be active in the same market now but with digital sleeptech products. My knowledge of consumers’ needs, the mattress industry, and new materials are still coming from that company my grandfather has founded.
How does Variowell Development innovate?
Tobias Kirchhoff: “Because science matters.” Whenever there is a technical challenge, we “go back to the physics” and build a new solution regardless of what competitors are doing. We believe in science.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tobias Kirchhoff: Global projects are much faster because everybody is in the home-office and available – not traveling. That’s good. But product introductions in retail are delayed – that’s not good.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tobias Kirchhoff: The greatest challenge is and was that one has a great idea, goes into testing, and then it does not work. The first one blames the ‘wrong testing,’ but sometimes one has to accept that the idea was not great at all – that’s a challenge.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tobias Kirchhoff: An investor asked me what I would like if I have a wish; free or endless funds. I answered, “I like to open up a competing company.” We need competitors as that defines a market. Ten years ago, nobody knew sleeptech, and three years ago, most mattress manufacturers saw it coming but just “not yet.” Now there are sleeptech products everywhere. Yes – they are competing for our solution, but in the end, we all benefit from each other. We design our software very open so that we can always connect to other solutions.
Your final thoughts?
Tobias Kirchhoff: Think positive and test negative.
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