Many successful companies have a good story to tell. Beddit's story began when the company's founding member and current CEO Lasse Leppäkorpi had a triathlon season that went all wrong.
"I simply overtrained, and in order to monitor my recovery, I had to sleep wearing a heart rate monitor for months. The problem was that I had trouble sleeping soundly because of the chest band, which slowed down my recovery," says Mr Leppäkorpi.
Years later he work as a ballistocardiography researcher in what was then Helsinki University of Technology. Ballistocardiography is a scientific method by which the heart and blood circulation can be monitored and analysed on the basis of body movements. When his colleague Heikki Ruotoistenmäki developed and patented a new type of extremely sensitive sensor that was well suited for ballistocardiography, Leppäkorpi had a business idea.
"The sensor we had developed was installed directly into hospital beds, making it possible to monitor the patients' heart rate and breathing easily, without having to attach any sensors or wires into the body."
The company working under the name of Finsor developed quickly until 2008 when the financial crises forced their cooperation partners to leave. The company began to reconsider its concept, and this was when Leppäkorpi remembered the time when he had trouble sleeping.
"We realised that the same technology could also be used to measure sleep."
Aiming at genuinely better sleep, not just to collect data
Beddit Sleep Tracker, aimed at the consumer market, was launched in 2013 on the Indiegogo crowdfunding web site. The campaign is to date one of the most successful ones in the health technology sector: advance orders were placed from 106 countries, and their value went up to 0.5 million euros even before a single product had been manufactured.
Sleep Tracker's operating principle is very simple: a thin sensor placed between the mattress and sheet will measure a person's sleep and environment and send the information to a mobile application.
"Instead of offering our users mere measurement data, we also want to offer services to improve their sleep quality. Our cooperation partners include sleep clinics and personal trainers," says Mr Leppäkorpi.
So far three versions of the Beddit service have been released. Tekes's support has been instrumental in their development.
"The fact that Tekes has had faith in our business idea right from the beginning has also helped us receive funding from elsewhere," says Mr Leppäkorpi.
Scientific research supports product development
The number of Beddit users is growing steadily. The product has been collecting sleep data about millions of nights, and the product is for sale in thousands of shops in over a hundred countries. The company not only had a successful crowdfunding campaign, but its product is also distributed by one of the world's best-known brands.
"Today our product is for sale globally in all Apple stores, which is no mean feat. We are among the select few," says Mr Leppäkorpi with satisfaction.
Beddit stands out from its competitors also because of the strong link between product development and scientific research. According to Leppäkorpi, a part of the product development budget is always earmarked for cooperation with doctors, researchers and other experts.
"The research in itself does not create any significant turnover, but the publications give credibility to our expertise and improve our position as experts in the field. This part of our business would not be at all possible without Tekes. Tekes has also played an important role in protecting the development outcomes through patents, for example."
Lasse Leppäkorpi, CEO
+1 408 913 0313
lasse.leppakorpi (at) beddit.com
Text: Kaiku Helsinki