We’ve been covering new niche brands that have successfully been built either purely with e-commerce or with an online-offline combination. Yogibo is a bean bags company that has scaled nicely in its niche.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Eyal Levy: I was born and raised in one of the suburbs of Tel Aviv. I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. My father was an entrepreneur. He founded a plastic company. My maternal grandfather was also an entrepreneur. He had a toy factory. Since I was ten years old, I was helping out. I would spend half of the summer vacation working at the toy factory. I was doing different tasks. When I was 16, I was managing the warehouse. I went through all the hard work.
Then I did military service and after that, I traveled the world a little bit. I love seeing other cultures and meeting other people. I did my first degree in industrial engineering. I worked as an intern at Intel and after that, as an engineer, which gave me a lot of tools in how to work and learn good processes. After that, I joined my dad’s company and had several roles there.
Sramana Mitra: Back in Israel?
Eyal Levy: Yes. That was back in Israel. I was managing operations, marketing, and supply chain. I gained a lot of experience with that. About 12 years ago, my dad sold his company. One of my biggest customers is a marketing manager. They recruited me to set up their operations in Israel.
Soon after, due to the Lebanon situation, they decided to relocate to the US and have me set up their operations here. It was quite a challenge moving to another country and setting up operations from scratch. I knew that I didn’t want to do it after it is set up. Entrepreneurship was always in my blood. Two years later, I decided to start my own company.
Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking?
Eyal Levy: That was 2009.
Sramana Mitra: What was the idea behind Yogibo?
Eyal Levy: A few years earlier, my wife was pregnant. We were looking for something where she could sleep on her belly. It’s a similar concept with bean bags. We moved to the States and we brought this bean bag with us. Everybody was surprised at how comfortable it is. They asked us if we can get them one. We hooked up with the company that made the stretchy fabric and started filling them in the basement.
I built the website with a designer. In a couple of months, we had a website. We started with wholesale. I was still having my day job. Sales increased every month and we also realized that it’s a very experiential product. People who try it will love it. It’s very important to have more direct sales and retail presence. So in April of 2010, I quit my job and opened our first retail store.