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A 'bed-in-a-box' start-up that donates mattresses to poor families just raised $23 million

  • Leesa Sleep raised $23 million in a series B round of venture funding to grow its direct-to-consumer mattress business.
  • Seventh Generation CEO John Replogle, and TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie are new investors in Leesa Sleep.

Health and safety regulations across the U.S. require families to provide clean beds for each of their kids. If they can't afford the beds, they risk losing kids to foster care.

A "bed-in-a-box" startup called Leesa Sleep wants to stop that from ever happening.

As a registered B-Corp., Leesa donates one mattress for every ten it sells to a family or individual in need, and plants a tree for every mattress it sells.

The startup's social minded approach to the mattress and bedding industry has attracted a new $23 million venture investment from big names in the world of social ventures, including Seventh Generation CEO John Replogle, and TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie. Replogle will also serve as chairman of the board at Leesa.

"The U.S. mattress industry is over $14 billion per annum with room for several winners," Replogle told CNBC. "To grow in the next stage, the company will have to use sleep science and design to drive for better sleep. That's table stakes. But it helps that their core mission and brand resonates with consumers who shop beyond price."

According to Leesa co-founder and CEO David Wolfe, the startup plans to use its new funding for hiring, and to develop new sleep products including mattresses, pillows and proprietary materials that go into them.

While many "direct-to-consumer" brands sell their wares strictly via their own websites and showrooms, Leesa sells through its own site, a couple of "experimental" stores, and via Amazon.com as well as the wedding registry site Zola. Leesa is considering relationships with brick-and-mortar retailers as well.

Wolfe told CNBC that his company has focused on profitability per transaction, rather than profitability over the "lifetime" of a customer relationship. Prior to raising the new round of venture funding, Leesa was profitable.

The startup, which is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and manufactures its beds in the U.S., employs about 70 full-time today, and expects to hit $150 million in sales this year, its third full year in business. It generated $80 million in revenue last year.

Wolfe said that employees love working for Leesa in part because of its health benefits. Predictably, every new hire gets a new mattress from the company, and hopefully that helps them sleep better and perform better at work, Wolfe said. But Leesa also has a gym and personal trainers on-site daily to help employees get fit, which should also help them sleep better.