Since appearing on BBC1’s Dragons’ Den on Thursday 12th January, 2023, we thought we’d share a bit more about us, the PillowShelf and our goals for the future.
About Kris & Martin
Martin and I met at the end of 2012, fell in love and started our lives together in September 2013, married in 2017. We have successfully merged two families together which keeps us very busy spending time with children, grandchildren and even a great-grandchild. We love them all dearly, enjoy spending time with them and they certainly keep us on our toes! Martin is also a very successful saddler/saddle fitter operating out of our company Fitted Saddles and my background is in business management, having spent over 20 years working in education.
We formed Bedstretch together at the end of 2017 and have been introducing our invention, the Pillowshelf Bed Extender to taller folk ever since.
An Idea is Born: PillowShelf
Martin and Kris Andrew came up with the idea of the PillowShelf about eight years ago. At 6’ 2”, Martin regularly found that beds were too short for him, resulting in many nights of broken sleep caused by his toes overhanging the edge of the bed. Kris challenged him to find a way to make their existing bed more comfortable, and they came up with the concept of the PillowShelf. It stopped Martin from tossing and turning, which was disturbing Kris’s sleep – and best of all, having just redecorated and invested in new bedding, it meant they didn’t need to replace all their new bedlinen yet again!
Around five years ago, after finding that family and friends were interested in their invention, the PillowShelf story began. “We never thought that other people would be interested until friends started to ask us if they could have one too,” says Martin. “Being able to keep your own bed and bedding is key – during product trials the PillowShelf has been used to lengthen beds for returning university students, been taken on holiday, and has also gained commercial interest.”
In his role of Master Saddler and Saddle Fitter, , Martin is a member of the Society of Master Saddlers. Fitted Saddles Ltd operates across Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire from its base in Ringwood in the New Forest. Kris took a break from her role in supporting children with special educational needs to focus on Bedstretch and taking the PillowShelf to market. She has since trained to be able to carry out the upholstery aspect of the product as well as assembly and undertakes all the other background tasks of running a company.
Hopes for PillowShelf in 5 year’s time
We are hoping that as the news of this brilliant device spreads far and wide, no one will be forced to sleep in a bed that is too short for them ever again!
We would like all accommodation providers to realise that they should provide the 6ft and overs with the same level of comfort as everyone else and provide a Pillowshelf in every room.
We see Bedstretch growing and offering employment opportunities to those who find it hard to secure work through circumstances beyond their control – spreading the love so to speak.
We would like to think that the PillowShelf will be instrumental in taller people everywhere stopping blaming themselves for being tall and starting to blame establishments for not being inclusive to their needs.
What’s one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things about being a business owner is that the buck stops with you; there is nowhere to run if the going gets tough. You have to find a solution and a way through which sometimes isn’t easy. You often find yourself talking about work during what should be leisure time, and if you don’t work, you don’t earn. Holidays become even more of a luxury than ever and you have to learn to have a switch-off time at the end of each working day to ensure you can truly value the benefits of your downtime.
How was your Dragons’ Den experience?
We had an absolutely great time in the Den and we’re so glad we went for it. Meeting the Dragons was a fantastic experience. They all had a great sense of humour and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We were also hugely impressed with their knowledge, grown through their various experiences which they were happy to share.
If you could change anything about your pitch what would it be?
Apart from a few line fluffs and maybe some better props, we wouldn’t have changed anything about our pitch. We felt very prepared, had taken a lot of time to write and practice it and felt we did ourselves and our company proud.
We thought Peter Jones would be impressed as we knew he is 6’7”. A kingsize demo bed at 6’6 would be too short for him on its own but with a PillowShelf it would be 7’ long giving him the perfect solution.
In the event, and with the notice given, we could only get a standard single bed at 6’3” long up to the den. This perfectly shows off the problem of short beds but with a PillowShelf added it was still only 2” longer than Peter when he laid down.
The optimum extra bed space required is 4-6”. A standard Hotel King or SuperKing bed with a PillowShelf is the permanent solution for anyone over 6’2” but even with our short bed, the dragons recognised the problem and loved our solution. If we did it again we would perhaps take a KingSize bed and maybe our new 9” version just in case.
What are the top tips you’d give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Don’t be afraid to give it a go, just do your market research to make sure your product/service is in demand and you are offering something better or different.
Make sure you patent your invention and protect your Intellectual Property.
Do your homework regarding the various aspects there are to running a business and appreciate your limitations. We can’t be good at everything, ( ie marketing, PR, use of social media etc.) and in areas you feel you need help, network and ask around for recommendations so you find experts you can trust and then stick with them as they are worth their weight in gold. (There are a lot of people out there purporting to be experts who will be happy to take your money but not really provide much value for it).
Trust your instincts and be very patient, it takes a good few years to get an idea successfully off the ground and lots of hard work to grow it.
Above all, enjoy it!