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Questioning the Status Quo: Comfort Space Co.

Questioning the Status Quo: Comfort Space Co.

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Questioning the Status Quo: Comfort Space Co.

Yune Joo’s path to entrepreneurship started with a simple question, one that many other founders have asked themselves:

“Why do we do it that way?”

In Joo’s case, ‘that’ is comfort. Joo and his partner Xi Huang are the founders of Comfort Space Co., a company whose first product, the Prone Cushion, encourages consumers to consider the comfort and health benefits of lying on their stomachs.

Yune Yoo Founder Prone Cushion

“We are promoting prone posture as a viable and healthier alternative to traditional postures,” Too said. “To establish anything as a natural and trending choice, it must be perceived as both engaging and exciting. Prone posture is often seen merely as a position for the sick or lazy or other activities we don’t typically pursue. Our mission is to reshape this perception and showcase prone posture as a dynamic, exciting, and healthier option.”

Once they hit upon their idea – a pillow to make lying prone more comfortable – Jo and Huang had to bring their idea to life. They spent three years developing their product, which went through 20 different iterations before they finally landed on something they thought was viable.

Prone Cushion

That wasn’t a straight line, though. They started with design and engineering concepts before building a prototype, then went back to the drawing board to refine the product.

The whole process took two years. Then they took their design to Kickstarter and managed to surpass their fundraising goal. In January 2023 they were finally able to bring their product to market.

Joo said there were many lessons along the way:

  • Understand your customers and market segments. To do this, ask questions like ‘What unique value does the product offer?’ ‘What feedback are they providing?’ ‘What are their unspoken needs?’
  • Manage public impressions. Perception is everything, Joo said, and a positive image can be the difference between someone interacting with your product or moving right past it.
  • Collaborate. Partner with other businesses, influencers, and organizations that can expand your reach and increase your brand’s visibility. Identify potential partners whose audience aligns with your target market and with whom a collaboration could be mutually beneficial.
  • Keep innovating. You have to be the company that solves a problem differently than your competitors, and not just differently but more efficiently. Keep abreast of trends and industry developments so you can keep your product relevant and desirable.
  • Research and monitor. Keep an eye on the market – both competitors and parallel industries – to identify threats and opportunities.

One of the other big lessons Joo learned was be confident in the product, but be realistic about it as well. Although, he admits, he had to learn that lesson a couple times before it stuck.

“We were optimistic about our sales potential, so we decided to order three times the amount of stock we anticipated selling in a month,” Joo said. “Reality struck when our monthly sales turned out to be half of our expectations. That left us with an overwhelming inventory, six times our monthly sales volume, which added significant additional costs for both product and storage.”

When they finally managed to unload the inventory, Joo said, the partners were optimistic that they’d boosted demand for their product and ordered the same amount of inventory, only to run into the same issue again.

“That was a crucial lesson about the dangers of overconfidence and disregarding actual data. Our overly optimistic forecasting, which ignored clear market signals, led us to a financial predicament, and we had to use personal funds to cover the shortfall,” Joo said. “It was a reminder of the importance of data-driven decision-making and the risks of expecting different results from the same actions.

“It made us laugh but also ingrained in us the value of learning to walk before running and the importance of adaptability in business planning.”

That was a lesson they would put to use again and again. Joo and Huang had planned for a viral launch, which they later realized was better suited to a larger company.

They had to pivot to establish a solid customer base. They spent time listening to early adopters and tailored the product to their needs, which led them to refine it and identify the perfect niche for them to sell to.

Prone Cushion In Action

From there, growth occurred organically through word-of-mouth.

Joo said mentors have also been key in helping the business find success.

“Our parents have been particularly influential. They brought a wealth of expertise from their respective fields, which was a significant contribution to the early stages of our development,” Joo said. “We had guidance in investment, corporate executive leadership, and logistics… which has been a cornerstone in our foundational strategy and continues to influence our decision-making process.

Seeking outside help is also crucial.

Joo said Simon Sinek’s podcast, ‘Why, How, What,’ has been an essential tool to help him grow the business.

“It’s dramatically transformed my approach to thinking about and executing business strategies,” Joo said. “Only by consciously knowing ‘why’ can you make a genuine outcome that resonates with an audience. Once you have a why, you can focus on ‘how,’ and that leads to ‘what’ – the product.”

The process can be draining at the start, but Joo said that by consistently questioning the rationale behind each action, a company can set itself up for long-term success.

That being the case, asking ‘why’ may be the best place to start your own path to founding your own business. Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? Why do you want to run a company? Why are you the right person for this particular challenge?

Your Turn

Yune Joo’s story demonstrates that questioning the status quo can lead to innovative business ideas. If you’ve been hesitating to start your business because you think your idea is too unconventional, take Joo’s advice and ask yourself, “Why do we do it that way?” Your unique perspective could be the key to success. What’s stopping you from taking the first step today?

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Questioning the Status Quo: Comfort Space Co.

Questioning the Status Quo: Comfort Space Co.

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