Hest isn’t resting on its success.
The Seattle-based maker of sleeping gear for outdoors enthusiasts has seen significant growth this year and has just kicked off a new financing round to support its plans for 2023.
Founder and CEO Aaron Ambuske, who spent 18 years at K2 Sports, launched Hest in 2019 to satisfy his desire to bring a more comfortable sleeping experience to car and tent campers.
The startup raised $2 million in November 2021, with participation from Ascend.vc, Cascade Seed Fund, Alliance of Angels and others such as Bryce Phillips from Evolution Projects. The company, which now employs 10 people, has raised $3.5 million to date.
Hest has figured out a way take the benefits of a traditional mattress — body alignment, pressure point relief, temperature control, etc. — and put them in a durable, blow-up camping mattress that can be rolled up on the go.
Hest released its Foamy mattress this year and Ambuske said it quickly became the company’s best-selling product. Hest also makes a flagship Sleep System, which sells for $449, and a line of pillows.
“We see continued strong demand for Hest products,” Ambuske said. “A lot of the customers who tried camping or came back to camping during the pandemic have stuck with it as an enjoyable way to vacation with friends and family, and camping has traditionally done well in a recession.”
Like many who are making and selling physical goods, Hest has experienced some recent supply chain challenges — especially with the rate it is growing, Ambuske said.
“Fortunately, we have been able to navigate most of the supply chain issues, since my team and I have significant years of experience developing and delivering products,” he said. “Also, we were basically born in a pandemic, so we were able to make early strategic decisions on our supply chain, such as sourcing some key components in the U.S. and assembling all our products in the U.S.”
Hest products are now sold in 126 REI stores and a first annual “Hestival” in Colorado last spring attracted 2,000 attendees. The company also assembled what it refers to as a “dream team” of athletes and innovators to collaborate with.
Ascend founding partner Kirby Winfield previously told Outside magazine that sleep will be a $137 billion market by 2026.
“We think Aaron and Hest can do for sleep what Allbirds did for shoes — use innovative design, unique materials, and a modern and differentiated brand to create passionate followers in a coveted consumer segment,” Winfield said.