I had the pleasure of interviewing Ricky Joshi, co-founder of The Saatva Company. The Saatva Company sells luxury, affordable, and organic mattresses online, made with sustainable materials in the USA. Along with Ron Rudzin, Joshi is keen on opening up a dialogue about eco-friendly products in the lifestyle space.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us about your journey to becoming CEO?
Thank you for having me. My journey to becoming CEO started outside of the mattress industry, actually. After graduating from Columbia with my MBA, I spent some time working in the agency world as an internet guru in IPG where I managed business development deals upwards of $10 million. It was only after that that I created my own agency and became a co-founder of The Saatva Company.
What is your definition of success?
My definition of success revolves around our company’s mission. Above all, we want to provide a consistent customer experience, and as long as we’re continuing to produce products our customers approve of, I feel we’re successful.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
It had to be during our initial brainstorming meetings. We were several cups of coffee in, throwing out ideas on long-term visions for our company. I can’t say any one moment specifically, but our initial core team really bonded through that experience, and we still talk about the crazy ideas we had to this day.
What failures have you had along the way? How have they led you to success?
I firmly believe entrepreneurship is about failure as much as it is about success. We’d developed products that had never seen the light of day because our test groups thought we were way off base. Using customer feedback that early on in our process set the stage for how we view our customers today. They are our best critics, and are the driving force behind our success.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Sure, I can share a story. Our company’s dedication to high-quality, locally made products makes us stand out from the competition. We commit to only eco-friendly and sustainable solutions because we know how important that is to our customers, and the environment. We’re thinking long term. Initially, while we were planning our 100% American Talalay latex mattress Zenhaven, the discussion of whether or not it should be locally sourced came up. Even for a company that strives to be as eco-friendly as possible, we are not immune to the ups and downs of the brainstorm process. In the end, we decided having a truly eco-friendly and affordable solution for our customers would be in our best interest. It aligned with our goals and what our customers expected of us.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
We’re always planning and developing new sleep health initiatives. Ultimately, The Saatva Company wants to provide the full sleep experience — mattresses, bed covers, bed frames, everything. We’re working on a lot of great products for the future.
Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is doing to become be more sustainable? Can you give an example for each?
Yes, of course. We have several green initiatives in the pipeline, and are proud to say we take sustainable action very seriously. In 2015, we became lead sponsors of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, ensuring our customers know about our dedication to green processes. In addition to that, we want to cut down our carbon footprint as much as possible, which is why our flagship partner factory runs on solar energy exclusively during Saatva mattress production.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Listen to them. They’re not just your employees; they’re your team. Working together and incorporating ideas from all levels at work is the best way forward.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’d say my co-founder and A-game team member, Ron. His passion for learning and development has helped push me to discover more about myself, how I work, and what I’d like to achieve with the company. Especially during our startup phase, he was instrumental in bringing together production and logistics to craft our very first mattress. He’s a great team player and I’m grateful he’s on our side.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We’re committed to reducing our carbon footprint and setting an example for new entrepreneurs and small businesses. Our foam is never processed with formaldehyde, and they’re tested and certified to meet environmental and health standards. We use recycled tempered steel and other eco-friendly materials to create each mattress.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why?
– Don’t approach it like a boss; approach it like an employee: I really used to think being CEO meant calling all the shots and looking over at my staff through my C-suite office. However, I quickly leaned it’s less about governing and more about teamwork. Being a good leader means being a good listener, understanding what’s necessary on all levels, and working together to ensure all parts can coexist together.
– Laugh more: this one might not be the most obvious, but I’ve found laughing more and being present in my day-to-day life has made me a more effective leader. Instead of worrying about future deadlines, by rooting myself in the moment and taking the time to laugh things off, I’ve cultivated a more open mindset. This in turn allows me to be more creative.
– There’s no one way to lead: When we think of a leader, our idea of one might be very narrow. It’s no different for the budding entrepreneur. Instead of trying to fit into a box of how you feel a leader should be, work hard to find your unique style. What works for you may not work for someone else.
– Find out what kind of learner you are beforehand: Some of us are visual learners, and some of us are interpersonal learners. I’m sure we’ve all done the test at some point in our school careers. Really taking the time to understand what kind of learner you are before you get thrown into the frying pan is extremely important. You want to learn how you process information and how you can be productive before you’re faced with tight deadlines or customer demands.
– Don’t forget to have fun: Hopefully you will have started your company because of an inherent need to solve a problem or find a solution. Don’t lose sight of that goal or that feeling. Work may become tedious over time, but if you remember why it is that you started, you’ll be able to sustain the drive and motivation to keep going. Don’t forget to keep the fun in everything you do.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
In our experience, sustainability may not be the easiest thing, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. If I could inspire a movement, I’d encourage more businesses to take the plunge and go eco-friendly. Use solar energy and reduce production waste. Your bottom line will not suffer because of it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Coming out of my MBA, I was set on achieving what I could within 5–10 years, putting everything on a tight deadline so I could fit my narrow definition of success. Working with The Saatva Company has taught me that it’s less about the destination and more about the process. Being a part of such a talented team changed the perspective for me. It allowed me to open up and take my ideas to the next level by listening to and appreciating the ideas of others.