The paceño Carlos Salinas co-founded a company four years ago that has revolutionized the business of manufacturing and selling mattresses in Mexico. The Luuna company, which was born 100% digital, today is on course to have an economic valuation of around 80 million dollars and won the Forbes Award for the company's 2018 promise.
The vertiginous growth of this startup, founded in 2015, went from entering the market with a single mattress model to stun a category that was dominated by two companies in Mexico. Its expansion includes an offer of several articles for rest (sheets, pillows, and beds) and together with a Swiss fund has started its operations in Thailand. At 32 years old, "the Bolivian", as everyone knows him, is the executive director (CEO) behind Luuna.
"It is a brand that fulfills the promises it makes by offering value to its customers in terms of price and quality. Luuna is by far the best mattress that you can buy in Mexico, it is the best-selling mattress online in the country and we have the most reviews of a product. If you accompany this thesis with a company focused on technology, the combination opens up a world of opportunities ", describes Salinas through a telephone interview with Página Siete.
The entrepreneurial spirit was always present in his family, his parents, also from La Paz, were his reference. He was in a school that was not characterized by academic requirements, but he decided to enter the career of commercial engineering at the Chilean University Adolfo Ibáñez and achieved it at the age of 18. He worked for about nine years in Linio, called the Amazon of Latin America, which arrived in Chile through Rocket Internet, a German group that invests in creating digital commerce companies in emerging countries using models that work in developed countries.
Salinas and his wife Laurène Maire investigated and discovered that the mattress industry was a niche in the North American country, so they launched into the northern country." In Luuna we estimate that the mattress industry in Mexico is (valued) at more or less 1 billion 500 million dollars, according to data based on studies of the company," says Salinas.
Both arrived with $ 30,000 to Mexico D.F. to stay in a shared Airbnb apartment. It was there that the business began to gestate with William Kasstan and Guillermo Villegas, who also worked on Rocket Internet. In addition to the research that lasted for almost a year, the experience was decisive, when Kasstan arrived in Mexico from England, bought a mattress whose delivery had to wait about three weeks.
When the mattress finally arrived, they had to upload it for three floors (something that was not included in the delivery price) and it did not fit through the door. When trying to put it through the window, it broke. This experience showed the shortcomings of the distribution of mattresses, problems that a new company could solve. Finally, the first product of Luuna came out on the market proposing new technology, it is mattresses packed in a vacuum roll and they do not have springs; They are made of high-density polyurethane, latex, and memory gel and weigh between 21 and 41 kilos.
The company makes deliveries on the day, gives a 30-day trial period for the product, and also accepts returns without asking questions. In 2016, after one year, Salinas looked for investors. The company raised capital from the Mountain Nazca Fund. During the next two years, they went from being the four founders to a payroll of more than 50 people and they got 20,000 clients.
"The last three years we are maintaining triple-digit growth in sales with an even more promising potential. This year we expect to close on 150% growth (...). In 2018 we won the one that we consider the most important award in Mexico in this area that was the Entrepreneurship of the Year granted by Endeavor, "says Salinas.
In 2019, they plan to open a store every three weeks in Mexico and expect to end the year with 250 people on the payroll. Not to mention the expansion that takes place in Thailand. Amid this growth whirlwind, people still consider it untypical for a Bolivian to start and succeed in Mexico, but he says he accepts with pride that he is recognized by his nationality.
Shopping should not be boring
"When you go to buy a mattress you go to a very ugly store, you see the mattresses on the floor and they talk about technologies and materials that in the end nobody understands and that they are nothing more than marketing returns, it is extremely boring. ..). That's where Luuna comes in to change things, "says Salinas.
The difference with this brand is that the physical stores that have opened set a trend, according to Salinas. The goal is to make the mattress industry a "sexy" business. In its stores coffee is served, the quality of the product is shown practically and entertainingly. The objective is that the first sale in the physical establishment (offline) promotes the second, or the following, but online. To the formula of success, it is added that its founders take technological development very seriously.
The company has a team of developers who have worked not in software, but dozens for the operation of its great platform and are constantly working on technological innovation. Regarding the future, Salinas considers that the growth of the company must reach stability to start expanding in Latin America. Although he does not know when he will be encouraged to undertake something in Bolivia, he considers that in the country there is a world of opportunities in all areas.
In recent years, returning to his country and visiting his parents has not been an easy task, so he is very excited to return to talk about Luuna's success. "People must understand that I am not a genius, I have an education that has been the average of all Bolivians (in school stage). We hope that Luuna's success motivates entrepreneurs to think that they can look for large markets or develop those they already have in Bolivia, "concludes Salinas.
The first version of Digit Latam in Santa Cruz and La Paz
The first version of Digit Latam, the forum for digital transformation and innovation that takes place this week in Santa Cruz and La Paz, will gather leading Spanish-speaking actors from the corporate world and successful startup entrepreneurs from Latin America and the world as exhibitors, according to has informed the organization.
The regional director of Digit Latam, Ariel Valverde, said that the main objective of the event is to provide executives and assist entrepreneurs with the key tools to successfully implement a digital transformation in their companies or ventures. "The objective is to promote technology-based ventures in the Latin American region to demonstrate that our region produces technology and exports," Valverde said in a statement. The forum will be held on April 24 at Torres Cainco, in Santa Cruz, and on April 25 at the Casa Grande hotel in La Paz.
The event will be attended by several exhibitors, such as Carlos Salinas, CEO, and founder of Luuna; Juan Carlos Acosta, ex-CEO of Tigo Colombia; Gabriel Marcolongo, CEO and founder of Inclume; Gabriel Celemin, CEO of Giro 54; Patricio Cobre, CEO of MetricArts; Rodrigo Salazar, founder of + Identidade; Carlos Molina, Vp Experience of IZO; Javier Iglesias, global operations director at Opinno.
According to the organization, Bolivia was chosen as the location for the first version due to its strategic location as it is located in the center of South America. The second version will be held in Paraguay, then plan and carry out the event in the rest of the countries of the region.
The original text of this article was published by Pagina Siete at the following address.