Summary of Episode
#78. What is a weighted pillow and why did the founders of YouTube and GoPro invest in the company behind it? Mikey Goldman, founder of Quiet Mind, joined the Startup Savant podcast to discuss the creation of the first ever weighted pillow. Diagnosed with ADHD and math dyslexia, Mikey was over prescribed a litany of medications to manage his symptoms daily. The founder decided there must be another way. In this episode we discuss how Mikey created the weighted pillow in stealth mode, the necessity of NDAs even for friends, and how a mixture of PR and SEO has become the company’s most successful marketing strategy.
About the guest:
Mikey Goldman is the founder and CEO of Quiet Mind and inventor of the first weight pillow, the company’s primary product. Previously, Goldman worked in marketing and social media management for various companies including Insightly, Green Park Sports, and Zuora.
Podcast Episode Notes
[00:01:30] What is Quiet Mind?
[00:02:26] Could you give us the story behind how you developed the idea for Quiet Mind?
[00:05:44] What are the main coping strategies that you've used to push through the symptoms and keep your company moving forward?
[00:12:00] What does your PR/SEO strategy look like?
[00:15:35] What does your deep down SEO strategy look like?
[00:19:00] Can you tell us how you are getting your products onto those top 10 lists?
[00:20:56] Do these articles exist already or do you prompt them to be written?
[00:23:08] What is product seeding?
[00:27:02] How are you educating customers?
[00:29:08] Have you noticed a difference in the reception of the product since you’ve included the guide?
[00:31:20] How much work had you done on Quiet Mind before quitting your day job?
[00:32:45] Were you bootstrapping at this point?
[00:34:17] How much time was there between your day job and the first bit of funding?
[00:35:56] Why did you start in stealth mode?
[00:39:11] Did anybody give you any funny looks when you stuck an NDA on the table in front of them?
[00:39:52] What did launch day look like for Quiet Mind?
[00:41:37] How long did it take you to get your first sale?
[00:47:05] What is your number one piece of advice for early stage entrepreneurs?
[00:48:00] What is next for you and Quiet Mind?
[00:49:26] Where can people connect with you and QuietMind online, and how can our listeners support the company?
Full Interview Transcript
Ethan Peyton: Hey everybody and welcome to the Startup Savant podcast. I'm your host, Ethan, and this is a show about the stories, challenges, and triumphs of fast scaling startups and the founders who run them.
Our guest on the show today is Mikey Goldman, founder and CEO of Quiet Mind. Quiet Mind is the maker of the original weighted pillow TM. Now, one of the things we talk about internally on the Startup Savant team is that our show specifically highlights founders who are currently in the arena. You know, we've all heard the stories about the big companies like Airbnb and Amazon. And while there's definitely value in those stories, we think that the insight from founders who... have solved the problem this morning is a lot more relevant than when somebody talks about them solving that problem five years ago.
So with that being said, today's episode is going to really be a treat. Mikey launched Quiet Mind just a few months ago, and folks, you're really not gonna get a whole lot closer to the action than this. In fact, I'm so pumped to get into this conversation that I'm not even gonna take the time to ask you to subscribe to the show. See what I did there? All right, let's do it. Mikey, welcome to the show. I'm glad you could join us today.
Mikey Goldman: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here and talk about this with you.
Ethan Peyton: I am stoked you're here and you know, in doing research for this, I think that there were a ton of different places where we could jump in, but I decided to go with the trusted place to start, and that's right at the beginning. Can you tell us what is Quiet Mind?
Mikey Goldman: Quiet Mind is a wellness brand offering clever solutions to common mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, or things like insomnia as well as ADHD. And these clever solutions are a way for people to take a natural tool and something that promotes natural calm or naturally alleviate these symptoms versus going the other route, which might be prescriptions or of the sort. So we are... Quiet Mind, we make these natural solutions and our first product, like I like how you added the TM for our weighted pillow, we have the original weighted pillow which is a first of its kind weighted pillow which is a huggable, ultra soft, premium, squeezable pillow that naturally promotes calm.
Ethan Peyton: Shortened, buttoned up, all right. So I know that this product and this problem that you're solving, you've got a personal relationship with. So could you give us the story behind kind of how you developed the idea for Quiet Mind?
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, so it's kind of a long one, so I'll do my best to condense it, because I know it does get a little bit monotonous or a little long at points, but it goes all the way back to when I was a kid, my mom always said, which I'm sure a lot of kids also experience, my son has ants in his pants. I was one of those kids with ants in his pants who could not sit still. I was constantly moving around, bouncing off the walls, and my emotional spectrum was incredibly high or incredibly low, and finding that middle spot, I was rarely in that. And so after getting diagnosed with ADHD, math dyslexia, having all of these issues in middle school, they said, hey, we should go on stimulants, you should go on stimulants. I waited until college to go on stimulants and this is really when this idea or a theme of over prescription started.
I was in college in 2008, I was taking Vyvanse, then I started to have symptoms, side effects from the ADHD stimulants. That led to getting a prescription for Klonopin, which was a benzo. I didn't really have anxiety, but hey, it was something that I'm having sleep issues. Take this benzo. One thing led to another, by the time I graduated, I was on five ants, Adderall, Klonopin, Xanax, and Ambien if I really couldn't sleep.
So because of this and the ease of use of when I got all these things and never really being told, why don't you try melatonin? Why don't you try exercise? Where maybe those came up later, but the first response was always, here's a prescription to solve your problem, especially when the side effects were because of prescriptions.
So because of this, I've always been curious about natural solutions and things I could do to myself and I could take to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. So after getting off everything, after completely getting clean and saying, okay, what can I do? You know, whether diet, exercise, supplementation. I found weighted blankets. Weighted blankets, as people know, are unbelievable for promoting natural calm. They really blew up during COVID, but then I started to have some problems with it. And because of these problems, that is what led me into this career of quiet mind.
Ethan Peyton: That is a good story and it's kind of, it's that old story of like solve your own issue because chances are you're not the only person that has this issue. And you know, just in doing some research this morning, there, the numbers of people who, you know, are affected by things like ADHD or dyslexia are, you know, they're really high. You know, in the 5% of all Americans range, which, you know. It's a ton of people. And on that note, we all know that for founders to be who, you know, doing the things that they're doing, we've all heard the statement that you've got to be built a little bit different to be a founder. And that's especially true when you're going to be the founder of like a high growth company. And so for better or for worse, that's affecting a lot of people and a lot of founders. There's positives and there's negatives, but you've experienced this, you've pushed through this. What are the main coping strategies that you've used to push through the symptoms and keep your company moving forward?
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, and something I'll touch on too, which you said, the founder journey can definitely be a lonely one and people may not be built for it. It's actually something that's perfect for an ADHD mind because of the extreme highs and the extreme lows and the constant dopamine or that stimulation that you're looking for to get that satisfaction or reward because of what you're doing when it's all in yourself.
And the things I do now that really help, especially for my mind, it's all routine based. Where routine starts everything, where if I don't have a solid routine that is basically the same every single day, that is where this indecision piles up in my mind, that is where the waffling goes back and forth, things start slowing down, I get confused, I can't make a decision, and everything unfollows where things don't line up correctly. And so from the moment I wake up to when I hit the couch at the end of the day, Everything in that is designed to optimize my routine, my ability, my, you know, the least decision I can possibly have for something.
So it's a workout to start my day off right off the bat. Because if I work out, I can get those yas out. I can also have the first win, so to speak, where I get that goal that I've accomplished something and I go perfect. I've already won something. Let's use that momentum to the next thing. Plus you get the nice dopamine. You tire out your body a bit. So it's all about this reward system that works well with my mind. Then it's shower, then it's have a matcha instead of coffee because coffee for my mind, there'd be also, you know, it would spike me, but then it would crash me and it didn't work as well. Or you drink the coffee and then the way the caffeine is digested with your system, you might not feel the full effects where something like matcha, because there's theanine in it, it keeps you calm. The jolt isn't as extreme and it's a lot more pleasant. versus having the high up and down, because everything I do, trying to stay in the middle where I already have enough of extremes in my life.
Then it's the same thing with clothes. I wear the same type of, I really like athleisure stuff, I think they're really great for these neurodivergent minds who have maybe sensory processing disorders, who need something that feels a certain way, because this sort of flexible, soft material that breathes with you, that bends really well, always wear the exact same thing. Just so I also don't have to decide and think what do I need to look like. And so I use that theme of just meals, the exact same meals every single day. The same time I go on walks if I can, every single day, where any decision I don't have to make because it's already baked in my train, that is what helps me live the most successful and fruitful life, I guess.
Ethan Peyton: Yeah, all those things really, just hearing you say them, it's really hitting super close to home. I was having a conversation, and this was probably a year and a half ago, with a friend of mine, and I remember specifically seeing his face, and he just wasn't registering it, and it was like, but this is what it is. I was like, do you, so you know how, instead of having one thought at a time, you have like a thousand shreds of a thought at the same time, and that's just kind of like how things work, and he's like, No, I don't I don't have that and I'm like wait what I thought that's how all brains were like I thought that's how… I thought that's how everybody was and that was when that was kind of the last straw of like hey I think that this could be you know something that I should look into and you know is similar to you. But I was much older than when you were I was also diagnosed with ADHD and I and I agree with you completely that in the times when I've been most kind of regimented and scheduled is the times when things have been the easiest and there's been less of that like, you know, thousand shreds instead of one thought. So yeah, for the folks out there who think that they might have, you know, some sort of ADHD or dyslexia or whatever, look into it because the solutions, and obviously we're talking about a solution today to some of these issues, the solutions. make a huge difference. And if you can get that stuff figured out, it's gonna make a big difference in your life.
Mikey Goldman: I mean, when you said those multiple question things, that's exactly how the conversation in my head would go for just the simple, what t-shirt should I wear? If I don't pick one of the main three options I have, which basically are just colors of the same material, shout out Vuori and Lululemon for those, but it can turn into, if I wear that, okay, am I gonna do this later today? Or what if I wanna do this and wait, maybe, oh, am I gonna go here? That has nothing to do with my day approach or what I actually have scheduled that day but it's something about my mind will just take me into a place where I start answering my own questions in my head and I get nothing done. And it's funny, people used to make fun of, you know, Mark Zuckerberg when he came out a long time ago, he's like, I wear the same shirt every day.
Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.
Mikey Goldman: People were like, why is that? Less decision, more productivity. And it could not be, you know, closer to home or truer to the fact that it is, it does really increase productivity when you take out decisions.
Ethan Peyton: Absolutely, absolutely. Let's jump back to the product. So when I was doing research for this conversation, there were a couple things that stood out to me, but the first that I wanna chat about is that the original weighted pillow, just like what you mentioned earlier, is named so because it was the first product in the category.
So it seems like you followed that old advice from the entrepreneurship world that says that the best way to win a race is to be the only runner. Which is essentially don't compete in an existing market, create a new one. So you've got this magical first mover advantage, but there's also downsides that come with this. And the big one is that people don't know that this product exists, they don't know to look for it. And one of the solutions to this issue that you've mentioned is that there's kind of this one-two combo of PR and SEO. And I'm wondering if you can give us kind of a peek under the hood at what that strategy looks like and how it's working.
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, and to that point about being the first, that just when you hear weighted pillow, that is why when this idea came to me, I honestly thought I was crazy or I was missing something because I thought it was such a simple concept that was out there, and I thought I had to have been missing something because I couldn't find it. But because of that, and once I jumped into it, solidifying Quiet Mind as the true first original weighted pillow out there, that had to be a PR strategy. because I didn't think that I would have that, you know, that stake in the ground, that article, that those relationships that could get me to that place without having PR that came out, because you know, I could do it my own. I could post to a blog and say, hey, we're the first ones here.
But unless you have PR who's validating it through different media outlets and different reporters writing about it, that to me felt as the first step that really would make it real. as well as PR is able to tell my story and how I got to the weighted pillow. So that combination of saying, hey, we have the first one here. We know PR needs to play a role in this because PR is going to have to develop those relationships to get the reporters to say, yep, this is the first one. So we brought that on and that was sort of the main initial thought through those two years of building. It was… once we get to this point, PR is going to come up to us and then what was the other part you asked about this?
Ethan Peyton: So this SEO, the combination of PR and SEO, and I really think it's a pretty darn ingenious strategy, so I'm stoked you're here to talk about it.
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, so PR, like I just mentioned, we wanted the stake in the ground. But to that point, when people start hearing about the first weighted pillow, they're going to be searching weighted pillow and pre-launch, you know, the weighted pillow keywords, doing some Google searches, the volume was very, very low. It is starting to naturally pick up because of stuffed animals and things of the sort, but it was very low. So the idea that, okay, PR, even though when we launch in May, we're going to get some articles out. PR does take about six to eight months to really get those relationships developed and to get the articles and the placement you want. Same thing with SEO. So SEO, it's, you know, especially with Google, you can't just put up a website and then basically think all this traffic's gonna come there. Google's not gonna trust you. You need to build up that trust with Google. So that's another approach.
That's a six to eight month approach where we're building up that trust, we're putting out content, we're creating blogs. that by the time people are hearing from PR, especially in the holiday season for us, they're hearing about this weighted pillow, they go to Google, they search weighted pillow, then we're showing up. So it was a two-tiered approach that we needed these two to work in tandem because one without the other, you're almost, you know, you're losing that audience because someone hears about you, but then if they search, they can't find you. But then if they search you, and then you don't see anything that has, you know, any validation to it or any of the PR approach. it doesn't work well. And then also having on the website, the, you know, all the monikers, all the different outlets, it was definitely this two-headed monster that we needed to have these two things running from the get-go. So by the time people hear about the, you know, the weighted pillow, they're finding the necessary terms for Quiet Mind.
Ethan Peyton: So let's dig in a little deeper into this SEO strategy. Just sans the PR, let's just look directly at the SEO. That's a world that I've lived in for a long time and so it's something that I can really nerd out on. Is this, are you creating these articles yourself? Are you farming this out? Do you have any sort of like link building processes? What is your deep down SEO strategy look like?
Mikey Goldman: It's a mix of both where I'm doing some of my own with the help of a copywriter, as well as working with an SEO agency, because the amount of writing I can do and the searching I can do, that's great, but using an agency who actually knows what they're doing, who really can build up that value and get us to the front, I needed that approach, especially because I am a startup. I'm a solo founder. I'm coming from this two plus years, doing a lot of it with a lot of bootstrapping, there's some funding in it, but you have to be scrappy. And so knowing that, I'm not able in the SEO world to go after these big terms. And especially if you're looking at just, we'll start with weighted blanket. Weighted blanket is incredibly popular. That's a super high volume search term. The cost per click for that and just to even get shown, you're gonna lose a lot of budget there. So using an SEO agency who says, okay, how do we pull on those lower tiers, the lower hanging fruit, where we can start weaving our way into this conversation without spending all the budget right off the bat just to be noticed at the higher end.
And also with that, what are the lower hanging search terms we can find? And so it's using weighted blankets, going a step down from that, also looking at weighted pillow, and then even dissecting that a little bit more and thinking, okay, what are people searching in the same realm? That gets us to the ultimate goal of weighted pillow. And this could be things like cuddle pillows where you're not saying huggable pillows and maybe it's the cuddle pillows the way, you know, weighted blankets make you hot. So we phrase it in a different way. And so by doing this where we're really going after these lower tier, lower hanging fruit words, that is the way we can start building up at a cost-effective way and building the site up as well as I work with a copywriter to kind of take a longer approach to it The SEO team, they're building more of these keyword approaches and the ones that we really want to target. The SEO or the copywriter side is more of the story of Quiet Mind and answering the questions that then weave back into those SEO blogs. If that makes sense.
Ethan Peyton: Yeah, it absolutely makes sense. It's kind of, again, yet another tiered approach or this one-two combo where it sounds like the SEO team is making sure to get people onto the page and the copywriter is making sure that when they get there, they are reading the message that is exactly what you want them to see. It's the story, it's the trust-building factors, it's all that good stuff.
Mikey Goldman: Yep, exactly. You completely nailed it. Especially because this is something I didn't know where if they read the SEO article, you want to be linking in that article to different pages on your website, different sources you're citing. And so if I can have these blogs that are the SEO ones, that all of a sudden it says, oh, and Quiet Mind, and we can link to a blog that is talking about Quiet Mind, the company, there's all these different levers we're pulling to say, hey, there's the copywriter and there's the SEO. So yeah, I'm glad you understood that.
Ethan Peyton: So there's another part of this strategy. It's kind of the other side of SEO and that's getting your products onto other people's pages. And specifically in this case, I'm talking about like top 10 lists and that sort of thing. Can you tell us how you are getting your products onto those top 10 lists?
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, and that was exactly why we also chose PR as one of our initial PR and SEO, because listicles, top 10 lists, gift guides, for my type of business, my type of consumer product, that is one of the most important areas you can populate, especially because there are a million, what's the top 10 weighted blankets? Here they are, weighted blankets are so commonplace now that they live on their own with top 10s and they're also on the gift guides. So knowing we needed to get that, we needed to get to a place of that within the six to eight month range by… you start in May and then all of a sudden, you know, October, November, December arrives when it's holidays, we had to get on that.
So with PR, while we're pushing the story and the narrative of Quiet Mind, the weighted pillows, we're also developing these relationships, saying hey, try these pillows out, can we at least work our way onto these lists? And the funny thing is where prior to this, there'd be a top 10 weighted blanket list. But now because people are starting to hack the weighted products a little bit and take, you know, iterate on them where there's robes, there's sleep masks, there's other alternatives to weighted blankets, the guides now are changing a little bit to saying, you know, we just had one on Esquire which was deep sleep products and majority were weighted blankets, but there were, I think it was, we had one weighted blanket or one weighted eye mask and one weighted pillow which was us.
And so now these listicles are shifting from top 10 weighted blankets to top 10 deep sleep products, top 10 weight products, where they're changing and we're trying to, you know, stay at the forefront of that change and saying, hey, can you put a little asterisk if you wanna do your top 10 weighted blanket and just say, oh, well, there's actually something else because more alternative solutions, more options are what people want now and so we're trying to, you know, change these listicles and gifts guides a little bit.
Ethan Peyton: So are these generally top 10 lists that already exist or are you going to these companies that make top 10 lists or best of types of articles and letting them know, hey, this might be a good article for you to write?
Mikey Goldman: It's a mix of both where, you know, it's funny, prior to getting into weighted blankets, when I got a weighted blanket, or with actually a lot of things, whether it's air conditioners, just as that was something on top of mind that I looked at recently, I do look at top 10 lists. So I know how important and prevalent they are in my life.
And so when launching this, I knew, okay, I already know that these top 10 lists for weighted blankets are here. So for PR, let's start getting on some of those. Let's start getting on the list with the heavy hitters in the weighted blanket space. but then at the same time, we are telling them, hey, there's something new here, what about writing a feature for it and explaining, and then you can link back and try and get us on these lists.
So it is a mix of both of saying, let's try and get on the notable ones, on the ones that are already there, but hey, how about you change this a little bit and why don't you tweak it so our product actually is a viable option or not and it makes sense where otherwise we couldn't be on it. Because when you have a top 10 weighted blanket list, the reason it's a weighted blanket list, is because really there were not, there aren't other solutions that do the same effect. And that's also one reason I jumped into this thing where I mean, one of my first things I did, I Googled weighted blanket alternatives.
And the options were dumbbells on your bed, books on your bed, multiple heavy blankets, an equestrian blanket, and it was these incredibly outdated solutions. So that's why these top 10 lists, they're centered on weighted blankets because there aren't options. So we're trying to tell the reporters now, There are options, there's something new here. And so there's a little bit of a push and pull sometimes where they don't know what it is and they hear it and they go, how does that work? But the second they experience it, then it opens up their mind and they say, okay, this is actually great. We can now shift our list a little bit.
Ethan Peyton: I think this is a really good line of topics. So there's one more thing that I wanna jump onto this before we move on. And this is another one of those PR strategies and that's product seeding. And that was actually a term that I hadn't heard of before it was mentioned. So can you tell us what the heck product seeding is and how you're doing it?
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, so product seeding, gifting, this approach where you look for key influencers, you look for key people to offer your product to, ask for a return, hey, if you like it, post, share, let's see how it works. And for a lot of products you see now, they form, especially if you're on Instagram, you get a lot of this information from product seeding. So if you see some info to your post about it, most likely that was gifted, product seeding, kind of interchangeable.
The problem I realized with my product, where I thought this is gonna be great, if someone gets a weighted blanket, they're gonna be able to explain it, their audience is gonna eat up and go, okay, and then they can talk to it, and that actually is something I saw key influencers doing with weighted blankets. I remember thinking, this influencer, she's promoting a weighted blanket, I need to get my product in her hands, because if she promotes a weighted blanket, her audience, they understand it, they get it.
So I had to find out who can I seed these products to, and then hope you get a return. The problem is, when you have a brand new product and you seed someone a brand new product, all of a sudden I started realizing, nobody understands what they're seeing. The amount of times that I would see from product seeding, I just got this weighted pillow, I don't know what it is, but I'm obsessed. There was this disconnect on the product to the function of what it does or what we're even talking about, and that was something all of a sudden I realized the product seeding might not be the best solution for a product like mine, because it isn't commonplace right now. It doesn't have a name brand. There's no known quantity, no entity behind it.
Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.
Mikey Goldman: So the product seeding started shifting to, okay, simply sending them out. Let's see how these posts go. We started getting pictures going up. Pictures didn't do anything for us because no one knew what it was. Then all of a sudden it was, hey, can you maybe, if you like it, can you talk about it a little more, describe it? That still wasn't giving us a great return because again, a brand new product that nobody has heard. There's no brand equity, there's no brand trust. There isn't even, you know, the name weighted pillow doesn't do anything.
So the product seeding for us, which I thought was gonna be this amazing strategy, actually turned out to almost hurt us because we were just sending products where they didn't even know what they were doing. They didn't know what they were talking about. And I mean, it's great, you know, I learned that the word obsessed came out organically for our product where the amount of people who said, Probably, you know, 75%, no joke on the people who got this, but they didn't know what they were doing. So product seeding was something I thought would be incredibly impactful, where we got all these pills out there, but it actually was not a good strategy for us because nobody knew how to adequately promote it.
Ethan Peyton: So it sounds like it was kind of a lack of context. Like these people would get this item and they'd be like, hey, this thing's cool, it's comfortable, but I'm not 100% for sure why it exists. So did you, I mean, have you…
Mikey Goldman: Which is the best user feedback that I could have gotten…
Ethan Peyton: Sure.
Mikey Goldman: …because having that feedback saying, oh, this is how I need to be phrasing it, this is how I need to be messaging it when I offer this, that's why product seeding, even though it hurt us, it actually was really beneficial because it showed me what I needed to message, it showed me how I needed to frame these gifts guides or these gift messages, and it also made me realize where the disconnect was.
Ethan Peyton: Yeah, I know they talk about in software, kind of the first mile, when you first get somebody into a new app that they haven't used before. And there's kind of that, a lot of times it'll be like, most of the screen is shaded, and then it gives you a little button. It's like this button does this, this one does this. It's kind of that, let me guide you through this app so that you know how to use it.
Mikey Goldman: Oh yeah.
Ethan Peyton: So, are you now providing any sort of that, I mean, is there like, some little piece of paper or a booklet that's like a quick start guide or like how to use this thing. Do you include that with your product?
Mikey Goldman: So we do have that. We have a little thank you postcard where on one side it's a thank you, it's a hey, thank you, I appreciate you supporting me, this is why I started it. On the other side, it's a quick start guide and we're trying to do this thing where we're making a little more fun with, you know, using almost these witty kind of tongue in cheek phrasing tone of voice where, you know, we call it your new main squeeze.
So the pillow itself, your new main squeeze, playing on the main squeeze, you know, significant other. And then jumping into the feels, you know, the body. We say starting a new relationship can be a little awkward because we do try and explain that, hey, you're getting a weighted product, here are some ways to use it, that also it is a new sensation because weight on the body is going to create an effect. It's gonna release these neurotransmitters, it's gonna release hormones, so it's gonna feel like something. And so we try and explain that with this guide where it's maybe start with it leaning against you, then put it on your lap, and then finally you're ready for a full hug because it's something new. But it just goes to the point where blankets, everyone knows a blanket, regardless…
Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.
Mikey Goldman: …a weighted blanket, goes on top of you. You don't need to explain how a blanket is used after you use it for the first time. Pillow, most people hear pillow and they think you sleep on it, or they think it goes behind you on a couch. So that was the problem that I think was missing, was even if we're saying, hey, put it next to you, put it on top of you, there was still this education that has to go around, no, no. something that you do put on top of you over and over and over again, that even with the first try on the card, it's taking a little bit of time, especially for the audience that sees it from the seating side, from online, they don't see that card, they…
Ethan Peyton: Right.
Mikey Goldman: …don't even have any context.
Ethan Peyton: Right, right, yeah. So this may be a little bit difficult to measure, but do you know that, you know, is there a notable difference or a market difference between when you were shipping this product without this kind of context versus when you are shipping it with the context?
Mikey Goldman: So it's actually interesting. The card has always been in there, but I think it shows the lack of attention people have nowadays, where even if they have a nice card, and we even tried to develop it, where you're using more pictures, you're using more of these, you know, our characters and graphics to illustrate what they're supposed to read. But it showed me that a lot of people, I don't think really take the time to learn something. We even have it in our emails, you know, when it says, hey, thanks for buying, right when the thing is delivered, here's, oh, we're so happy you just got it.
Here's the same sort of thing from the email notification to the card that you're gonna get that says, here's the quick start guide. But I think because of people's attention span, which is something the pillow is supposed to be helping with, you know, ultimately, they get a little lost, they get excited. We have a really fun unboxing, all the colors, they're very stimulating. And I think there's just that time that person actually takes to digest the information and learn about it is a little bit, it's a little unwanted. And so because of that, where we're finding that the people who get them and they stay with them for a little bit, then it starts working. But yeah, that initial first 10 minute reaction, it's, hmm, what's going on here?
Ethan Peyton: So I wanna put together a little timeline of kind of how things developed in the beginning of your company. And I think the first kind of question that comes up is like, at what level were you? How long had you been thinking about this? Or what work had you done before you quit your day job?
Mikey Goldman: So the idea came to me, I wanna say it was April 21, and all of a sudden, I think it was for about a month I sat on it, and I thought I was missing something. So I did all the research for about a month, I put things together and I go, is this actually out there? After that month, after kinda creating the initial idea, talking with somebody about doing it, once I said, hey, we're gonna jump into this, and this, who was one of my actually investors, who said, you know, go for it. Then it was probably another six months until I said, this is a lot more work, six or seven months, than I realized, and then it was quit the day job, really focus on the pillow company. And a lot of that too was, is there something here? I didn't know how to start a company, I come from tech marketing in Silicon Valley, I didn't know direct to consumer, I didn't know building a product, manufacturing, any of that. So getting to that point of feeling confident and comfortable with quitting. was probably, yeah, that six, seven, eight month timeframe to go, I have an idea, oh, this is picking up steam, enough people have said this will make sense, so now I feel confident to take that leap of faith.
Ethan Peyton: All right, so you quit your job, you had been sitting on this for a little bit, you'd been kinda doing a little bit of work, you've talked to some people about it. So now that you quit your day job, do you have, I'm assuming you're bootstrapping at that point, is that accurate?
Mikey Goldman: Bootstrapping with one investor, because it was those first six to seven months I was working at the other company, but I was spending all my time on the pillow company, and that's when I knew I needed to jump on. And also I wanted to use, you know, the salary coming in may be selfish, but I wanted to use that salary to get me to that point. And so my first investor was Nick Woodman, who happens to be the GoPro CEO, incredible founder, and I reached out to him, I know him from my tech days, and I almost like kind of sent out, you know, a cold email and just said, hey man, I have this crazy idea, am I missing something? Can we connect? And once I had described it to him, he was the one who actually said, hey, if you can't find funding for this, I'll invest in you.
And that's all I needed to say, I think I have something. And so he was able to give some funding. And then for, yeah, for that initial, probably first year, it was even before I wanted to go to investors, I wanted to at least have a product I felt comfortable, confident about, comfortable with being able to give it to them, because also, When you're in my shoes and you're telling someone weighted pillow, they can't see anything, hold anything, touch anything, they're like, what the hell are you talking about? And I knew that was gonna hurt me. I knew, you know, no matter what I said, unless I really got a ton of their time, they needed to see something, feel something, and I also didn't wanna ask for money until I could give them that product. So it was one investor plus bootstrapping until that year mark when I got that confident prototype that I go, look at this.
Ethan Peyton: Okay, so you essentially, did you get that funding pretty soon right after you quit your job or was there, how long of a delta was there between the job and the funding?
Mikey Goldman: The job and the funding, that was probably another four months or so. And that, cause it was also when I finally had all the data, all the numbers, everything I needed to then say, here's what we're looking at. I knew I could have gone earlier cause we had talked about it. And he even said the, you know, from the initial, but I just didn't feel ready. I didn't feel, you know, whether it's simple as, hey, are the bank accounts in order? Are my QuickBooks in order?
Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.
Mikey Goldman: Or all the sort of processes, you know, my EIN, everything I needed, I go. Now I got it, let's make this real. And I think that was a big part of the validation for myself was just, you know, people tell you, I mean, the amount of times I Googled, how do you start a company where it's the most basic Google concept possible? But because I was really at the square one, I got to a point finally when I asked him for money, when I had the foundation set, and that's when I go, now I'm ready for this. Even though he said, hey, whatever, it didn't feel like the right time because that foundation was not set.
Ethan Peyton: Sure. Hey, quick plug real quick, if anybody out there is looking on Google for how to start a company, check out Startupsavant.com because we've got that stuff. All right, so with this, so I know that there was essentially a two year period that was like, here's when the idea came versus here's when we launched the company. And there's been a word that I've seen that you've used a couple times that you were in stealth mode that entire time. Can you tell us what that meant to you and why you made the decision to go in stealth mode?
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, so I was in stealth mode partly because I was sort of blown away, like I said a couple times, of this idea of a weighted pillow not being in the market. And I thought I was missing something. I thought that it was almost too good to be true in the sense that my prototypes worked. I knew it would work for the market, but why wasn't it out there?
So I decided, okay, I should probably be in stealth for a couple reasons. And it was really, I think it was a month after I made my initial prototype. And we're talking, you know, two months after I even had this idea, somebody came over, they felt the pillow, they go, what is this? And I said, oh, it's a weighted pillow, it's something I'm working on. And that person goes, hey, I could connect you to the Gravity Blankets founder. I loosely know him. And all of a sudden I go, hold on. One person has seen this thing and they already know a connection to Gravity Blankets founder. Gravity Blankets is kind of the OG of weighted blankets. They really brought the weighted blanket from an idea to more of a niche product to the commercial market. Where 2017, they were the first ones to really commercialize these products. And so, since then the guy's done, he's a phenomenal entrepreneur, he's done multiple companies, he has a company called Moon Pals, which are way to stiff animals.
And so I was panicked. I go, no, no. I can't have anybody know about this. Especially because it seemed pretty easy that I didn't want someone to whip it up before me. So that notion of, I gotta be in stealth mode, I gotta be quiet about it, only select people where it really makes sense, I will tell. partly also for my own peace of mind, because when I, you know, as I kept going through it, the more and more I felt confident about this, I was excited about the prospect of being able to be the first one to market.
So stealth mode to me was really NDAs, it was working with key players, it was working with investors, advisors, or the various companies and suppliers I used to manufacture these, and that was it. I mean, you know, a handful of friends knew, but there was even times I had a couple friends sign NDAs because I was so, you know, scared of what I was doing. And a lot of that comes from not knowing exactly the right approach because you know, like I mentioned I'm googling how to start a company These aren't things that people tell you there's not a huge playbook on you know There are playbooks, but for every different company size, you don't really know the exact answer So I just thought hey, let's take the NDA approach. Let's be in stealth and I also thought building up that momentum and that hype to the official unveiling would be a little more impactful
Ethan Peyton: Did any? Sorry, go ahead.
Mikey Goldman: The thing I did realize, it got to a point though where weighted pillow, when you hear weighted pillow, you consume the idea of it, you take in the name and you go, hold on, it's a weighted pillow, what? It got to a point where I had almost built it up too much that I was so afraid of the let down that would come from it so you hear it, you go, that's not that cool or what do you mean by that? So that was the other reason that even when I got close to launch, I'm like, nope. Now it's gonna look so much better when you see a website. You understand this because Weighted Pillow had no weight behind it, you know…
Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.
Mikey Goldman: …pun, but it literally had nothing behind it where it needed the supporting cast of, you know, my website material to really do it justice.
Ethan Peyton: So quick aside, did anybody give you any funny looks when you stuck an NDA on the table in front of them?
Mikey Goldman: From the friend side, yes, they were really, they were questioning it, they go, who would I tell? I mean, come on, you know? And then you take it from trying to be professional to, wait, we're buds, what's going on here? From the supplier, manufacturer, no, and a lot of times they even wanted to use their own. And so that actually made me feel more comfortable. But yes, from the friend side, they were kinda like, what the hell is wrong with you?
Ethan Peyton: What's wrong with me? What's wrong with you? Sign this thing. Ha
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Ethan Peyton: All right, so let's talk quickly about your launch. What did that look like? Because obviously there was a lot of lead up. But what was launch day like?
Mikey Goldman: Launch Day was the emotion that comes from just finally getting something live. It's a whirlwind to say the least. You spend so much time in stealth mode, pre-launch mode, that the reception that comes after it, and just simply by being able to search and find that Google web page and then click on a button and get to it, the emotion that's let out is unbelievable. And then all of a sudden it quickly goes to, are we getting sales? What's resonating? What's not resonating? and how are we gonna accumulate traffic. So you enjoy the launch day for those couple hours in the morning, you try and see where the article's coming from, what's going on, and then it turns into this is way crazier than I thought because pre-launch to post-launch, the amount of people that are consuming your material now, the amount of messages coming in, everything goes from not crucial to crucial time-sensitive, people are talking to you. And it really is, there's an emoji where it's like the guy's head's exploding…
Ethan Peyton: Hahaha!
Mikey Goldman: …and it really becomes that because there's just all these different things that you never had to deal with pre-launch.
Ethan Peyton: Right.
Mikey Goldman: And so it becomes quite crazy.
Ethan Peyton: Yeah, it's like you have control of the volume knob before you launch.
Mikey Goldman: That's a yes.
Ethan Peyton: And then after it's just maxed out the entire time.
Mikey Goldman: That is a great way to put it. And you're trying to figure out because you get good at the pre-launch stuff. You get good, your routine, and then all of a sudden, it's I am at square one again. I'm learning exactly how to start my day with the company that's out. Where do I check the messages? What do I need to talk on the web? Who, what different third party contractor do I need to pull in? So it is a completely new world once you do launch.
Ethan Peyton: So how long did it take you to get your first sale? If you don't mind me asking.
Mikey Goldman: We actually got luck, I mean, from the friend sales, the friend sales, we had a couple the night before, which was great, just because they were like…
Ethan Peyton: Sure.
Mikey Goldman: …hey, we'll be the first one. And then the morning of, we actually had a great response to this, because PR did a great job of, they got a couple articles to get out there. They also, you know, we played up with, hey, I should tell people why I did this. I should use my story to it. So by just me saying my story and, you know, dropping that on Instagram, dropping that on LinkedIn, using my network. We were able to build up some buzz. Something I also noticed that did work really well, which I didn't even think would work well, was my Instagram. I mean, I don't have any, you know, I think I should do pre-launch. Maybe I was public. I can't remember. I used to be private for the longest time.
Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.
Mikey Goldman: But I have under a thousand, you know, followers. But by doing a simple, hey, we're doing a 10 day countdown. Yeah. We're doing a 90 countdown. But now I drummed up enough buzz where simply by seeing a countdown going on Instagram and me explaining on Instagram, hey, I jumped into this because I struggled with ADHD and over prescription, but guess what's coming? And it was very simple, very low lift. That actually got enough excitement that when I did on the day of launch and said, look, we're out here. People were so excited. They go, oh my God, I'm so happy you shared that story with me.
And so that little lift got us the sales to start the whole thing. And we actually had a funny story with our very first sale from a non, very first sale from someone that wasn't affiliated with me, not in my network, anything of the sort. A person ordered, it was, she ordered a large pillow, which is our 12 pound pillow. And then I think once it got to her, she responded and goes, hey, this is too heavy for me. I'm 5'3", what did I miss here? She ended up sending that pillow back. So my very first pillow was returned because I think she was going off a weight chart, which is our only guide, and happened to be the 5'3” person in the highest bracket. And I don't even know if I should say that, but so she ended up buying a small, loving the small. But yeah, the very first one was returned. So that was a weird thing to go through.
Ethan Peyton: Yeah, I was gonna ask how you felt after that first sale. Like the first time you see a name that you don't recognize in the like list, I was gonna ask how you felt, but it sounds like it became a task and a little bit of a roller coaster in itself, so.
Mikey Goldman: Yeah, I mean the excitement from that first set I was like, oh my gosh, we did it, here we are. That is also a feeling. I mean, that's a, you know, you can't describe the emotion that comes from a person that you have no affiliation to, they buy your product, they see something, they go, I'm gonna do this. And I was, you know, you're almost in shock at a point because you're validated.
And I had been meaning to reach out and say thank you. And then because of the whirlwind of launch, you know, it got past me. And then all of a sudden seeing in my returns platform going, wait a second, what happened here? And then so I reached out and we talked about it and that was something I learned with, hey, we're using a weight guide right now as our only lever to basically guide the person to a pillow where blankets are much better because blankets they have this 10% rule. We are smaller than that, we're around six to 7% but it's also a new sensation, it's a new product. So I'm using my data with a personal feel and we're now coming out with a quiz for height, weight, different things of the sort. But at the time it was yeah, it was just weight. So the people who say are five feet, five three, but they're in that large category.
Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.
Mikey Goldman: There is a disconnect.
Ethan Peyton: That's really cool just in the fact that you got so much of an education off of that first, you know, unknown person sale. That's a gift, that's awesome. So hey, I wanna quickly mention, we don't have time to go into it, but you mentioned that one of your investors is Nick Woodman, the CEO and founder of GoPro. There's another one of your early investors, Chad Hurley, who was the CEO and one of the co-founders of YouTube. So I just wanted to say that because it's pretty awesome.
Mikey Goldman: I got really fortunate with it, where almost by chance they ended up becoming the two investors. And Nick was someone I knew from the tech world. And the reason this story latched on with him so well is he understood the, hey, I said, hey, 24 to 38, somewhere in there, working adult demographic, they have anxiety, they're looking for alternatives. So she goes, that's great, but also kids, children, you just told me, you're the kid with the ants in your pants. Well, this is a way for 10, 11, 12. or parents who might be juggling the should I prescribe my, or you know, should I put my kid on Simulance? This might be a tool for that. So I think you have some in there. And then Chad Hurley, I worked at a company previously where he was a founder of. And so when I left, I go, hey man, I'm doing this thing. And he was super gracious. He's like, well, you know, let me know if you need an investor. I'm doing a lot of investing right now. So I told him and he loved the idea and then he was happy to support it. So, and then at that point I was like, okay, well, whoever becomes the third investor, which we do have one now, but you know, whoever becomes the third investor, it's gonna be a tough act to follow when you have two…
Ethan Peyton: Yeah.
Mikey Goldman: …massive founders just by chance.
Ethan Peyton: Yeah, you've got some big names in there, and I'm sure that has created some pathways, and that's awesome.
Mikey Goldman: Yeah.
Ethan Peyton: All right, what is your number one piece of advice for early stage entrepreneurs?
Mikey Goldman: My number one piece of advice is if there's an idea that completely consumes you, just go and do it. I had been in a career that never would, I liked what I was doing, I enjoyed marketing, but there wasn't passion there. I liked the creative side, there was passion there, but for the actual thing, product I was working on, software, software as a service, it's not as sexy. This idea consumed me so much that I didn't even, you always hear, how did you get into that or why did you do it? You just know because it consumes your life. Everything about me became pillows and I was so excited and consumed by the pillow information that I said, you're gonna do it. So if you ever have an idea that just does consume your life, that's a telltale sign that you should probably jump into that.
Ethan Peyton: Absolutely, look into it, spend some time in it, see what's there, there's a reason that it's gripping you. Check it out. All right, what is next for you and Quiet Mind?
Mikey Goldman: Next for Quiet Mind is to not only, you know, dominate the weighted pillow market, which currently is Quiet Mind, but it's to get weighted pillow at the same place as weighted blankets as a viable option for people looking for natural calm, and to get it to a place where when someone hears weighted pillow, they understand what that means. So we really are growing out our weighted pillow business specifically because we want it to become synonymous with calm just the same way weighted blankets are.
On the short term, We're gonna be increasing some colors in the future. We're gonna be increasing product line to offer different variations of the weighted pillow. But the weighted pillow is our jump into this, you know, Quiet Mind brand ethos of, hey, we're a wellness brand offering clever solutions to treat. So the weighted pillow is the first one to treat anxiety ADHD. And then we're gonna get into the broader market offering more products that help in different ways as well. But short term, We'll get some more colors going. We have some fun, exciting, you know, there's a... I'll save it for later, but we have some new exciting products coming out and then we really want to use the weighted pillow as our stake at the ground to say, hey, here's our first product to market.
Ethan Peyton: All right, Mikey's leaving us on a cliffhanger, so we're just gonna have to keep our eyes on QuietMind, which actually leads me to my next question. Where can people connect with you and QuietMind online, and how can our listeners support the company?
Mikey Goldman: OneQuietMind.com, O-N-E, QuietMind.com is our website. We are QuietMind on Instagram, so at QuietMind for our Instagram, and OneQuietMind.com, where we're working on getting QuietMind.com, but it's been a tough process. And then we offer six pounds, nine pounds, and 12 pounds. Weighted pillows, like any weighted products, there's an adaption phase. I now would say I'd be in the medium pillow, but I love the large because I think it bear hugs me the best and it completely consumes me. So if you want more weight, just get more weight, you'll eventually adapt to it and you will enjoy it, but they all work really well. And then I'm at The Mikey Goldman on Instagram and please reach out, send us emails, comments. I do love to hear, I mean, I'm a founder. I'm trying to figure this out every single day. So if you get a pillow or you have comments or questions about the pillow, please shoot me an email, reach out to us on Instagram and yeah, enjoy your pillows.
Ethan Peyton: Mikey, this has been a ton of fun. Thank you so much for coming onto the show. I think that this has been a really, really good look into what the freshest companies doing well can look like. So I really appreciate your insight.
Mikey Goldman: Yeah man, thanks so much for having me. It's always fun to talk about my learnings and see how I can help because I was actually telling someone this the other day. When he's jumping into his own career, trying to be a founder, and I said, ask people ahead of you and help the people below you. Because I asked so many people ahead of me who knew what they were doing and it's only right that I pass that along to people below me because that's how I figured out so much of my stuff and my information, so. I appreciate you having me on to talk about this because I'm only learning, you know, just like everyone else as I go along. So it's been really fun. So thank you, man.
Ethan Peyton: Absolutely. Thank you, Mikey. Appreciate you. All right, and then I'm going to read an outro, but that's going to be here in a little bit. Hey, that was awesome. Thank you very much for playing along.
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Mikey Goldman founded weighted pillow startup Quiet Mind as a solution to his own struggles with ADHD. This is Quiet Mind's origin story.