A pair of UBC economics students are putting their education to good use before they even graduate and following their passion.
"We've always been huge nap fanatics," says fourth-year student Noah Silverman, one of the co-founders of Plufl. "Being full-time students, working on the side, with extracurriculars, napping is how we cope with a busy lifestyle."
He and Yuki Kinoshita are behind Plufl, a new company launching with its dog beds for humans.
The idea came from Silverman's work at a UBC coffee shop where the owners had a huge Great Dane and had built the pup a customized dog bed.
"I was spending time there, growing close to the owners, and I realized a dog bed is an amazing product."
Kinoshita saw Silverman napping with the Great Dane and they discussed taking the idea into the human realm.
"Noah and I have been big nappers for a while now and felt we need a better napping solution," Kinoshita says.
In the simplest terms, a Plufl is a dog bed made to human standards. It's bigger and more robust than what Rover might get.
The base is made from orthopedic and memory foam, it has borders which you can tuck your feet and hands or arms into, and it's covered in a soft, pleasing faux fur.
It's a relatively unique product on the market, the pair say, with distinct differences from anything similar, like a bean bag. With the borders allowing for limbs to be tucked in, it mimics a weighted blanket in some ways.
"This is more oriented to napping and lying down," says Kinoshita. "It provides more support."
The Plufl also has handles, which makes it more portable.
Plan of nap-tion
Launching a multi-national business - they're both from the US, one from Washington the state, the other Washington the city and plan to have sales in the US and Canada - during their fourth year at UBC has its challenges and opportunities.
The pair took an entrepreneurship class together and grew the Plufl plan there. They've also gotten advice from professors in a variety of sectors which has been useful, and friends have helped them with things like photoshoots.
At the same time, the business is not quite in full swing. The pair have set up a Kickstarter which has raised over $120,000 in a week, partly thanks to a TikTok video that went hugely viral, collecting 9.2 million views.
One thing they note is there seems to be room in the industry.
"We want to become a long-term nap company," says Silverman. "The sleep industry is big but napping is not addressed; it's not the same as sleeping."
That's the market hole they want to fill, expanding from their dog beds for people to other napping items. Their TikTok already is filled with nap and rest advice.
"We want to be the centre of the nap community," Silverman adds.
@weareplufl #nap #sleep #napfluencer #sleepfluencer #plufl #smallbusiness #smallbusinesscheck #smallbusinessowner #homeade #heath #wellness #smallbiz #smallbiztiktok ♬ So your an artist - Tej Patel
What's happening now
With the Kickstarter running in the short term, the pair are working on firming up the design details and manufacturing. One of the donor levels (US$350) gets supporters one of the first Plufl beds, at a discount from the expected retail of US$500.
They also plan to graduate from UBC in May. Silverman is even writing a paper on napping this semester.
The first official Plufl beds are expected to ship later this year, likely in November. After that, the entrepreneurs expect to transition to more regular operations and look at expanding their napping products.