The Road to the Dallas 100™: How Sleep Experts Founder Chris Cook Challenged the Mattress Industry with an Improved Customer Experience

June 30, 2023

When Sleep Experts founder Chris Cook went looking for a new mattress with his wife in the early 2000s, he was met with a lifeless experience. A used car salesman vibe. Little to no customer service. An endless selection of mattresses with no direction on how to pick an option that was actually right for them. It was a decidedly unwelcoming experience.

With an itch to start his solo entrepreneurial journey, and a legacy of growing up surrounded by his fathers’ home furniture shop and ventures into the mattress market, Chris saw an opportunity to make a difference in the North Texas mattress shopping experience. What if he could challenge the industry incumbents with a simple but focused strategy of improving mattress shopping for the sake of the customer? What if instead of focusing on commissions and up-selling, North Texas could have a mattress store that prioritized picking the right mattress for your needs? That’s where Chris’ company, Sleep Experts, planted it roots, and the strategy proved to be total success, scaling to the point of a $65 million exit to Mattress Firm after 11 years of successful business.

On this episode of The Road to the Dallas 100™, host Daniel Litwin sits down with the Chris Cook to learn from winding road to founding Sleep Experts, growing the company through the Great Recession, and why a culture of optimism and customer service proved to be some of the best ingredients for a successful company. In the interview, the two discuss…

  • The important role Chris’ wife, Christine, played in the company’s branding, marketing, and customer-centric ethos
  • The learning lessons from working at his family’s furniture business and witnessing them have to face bankruptcy
  • How he built a team that learned to stay optimistic, problem solve and guide the company through difficult tough times
  • How he kept the business afloat during the Recession and actually grow to new heights after the market recovered
  • Advice for other entrepreneurs on how to approach a strong business model, company vision, and even exit strategy

Before selling to Mattress Firm in 2014 for $65 million, the company scaled from a fresh competitor in the mattress scene in 2003 to the No. 2 mattress company by marketshare in the region.

Chris currently invests in and leads several other successful ventures across DFW, including Peerless Events & Tents, Bestige Holdings, and Dry Powder Capital. He serves on the Board of Directors of Mattress Firm, on the Executive Board of the SMU Cox School of Business, and is a three-time Dallas 100 winner in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

A precursor to the SMU Cox Dallas 100 Awards, The Road to the Dallas 100 is a showcase of the stories behind the fastest-growing privately-held companies in the Dallas area, celebrating the company’s founders and their achievements, business journey, challenges, and strategies. Learn from Dallas’ best so you can take the keys, get behind the wheel, and pave your own road to the Dallas 100.

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