Aaron Ambuske was tired of getting poor sleep while camping. As a longtime outdoor industry product developer, he began tinkering around with ideas to replicate the comfort of a home mattress but inside the back of a car or tent.
That led to the creation of his own startup, Hest, which recently reeled in a $950,000 investment to fuel demand for its high-tech sleep system.
Ambuske, an 18-year veteran of K2 Sports, spent months studying sleep and the engineered polyfoams in mattresses. He figured out a way take the benefits of a traditional mattress — body alignment, pressure point relief, temperature control, etc. — and put them in a portable, durable blow-up camping mattress. The 7-inch-thick product features a 2-layer design and a waterproof drop-stitch base that creates a firm support that can be rolled up.
So far, the response is promising. Hest began selling its $399 mattress online with REI in April and sold out in five weeks. The price point is a bit steeper than competing products but customers are still flocking. Hest is riding a trend of surging popularity with camping and road trips amid the pandemic.
“We are focused on portable products for sleep, and we see a big potential with the types of vacations people are taking right now,” Ambuske said. “We will be developing more portable and personal products to help people sleep well where they are choosing to vacation in this environment.”
Hest also sells a $499 “Dually” mattress designed for two people.
The 4-person plans to launch a pillow on Kickstarter this September.