In a country where it’s common to sleep on bamboo mats on the floor or extremely firm mattresses, or even on a parked motorbike on the street or a hammock strung between two posts, it’s not an easy undertaking to get people to reconsider their sleeping habits.
Despite the challenge, it’s Ru9’s mission to do exactly that.
The young company is based in Ho Chi Minh City and has set out to change these unhealthy habits. By introducing a new approach to sleep and highlighting the role it plays for our health and wellbeing, they are taking great strides towards their goal.
Today we’ll introduce you to Trang and Vinh, Ru9’s founders, who turned their love for a good night’s sleep into a thriving business we at Christina’s are proud to partner with.
Ru9’s Inception – Everything but a bedtime story
Founded by Trang Dang and Vinh Nguyen just a year ago, Ru9 is Vietnam’s youngest, most innovate and exciting mattress company today. But how did it come to be? Since most young entrepreneurs in Vietnam get busy in tech rather than consumer products as seemingly mundane as mattresses, why did these two decide to go down this path?
Trang and Vinh met coincidentally—while jogging for an upcoming marathon. Both Vietnam-returnees connected over their love for their home country and became fast friends. Unfortunately though, right before the marathon, Trang suffered an injury to her back and almost had to drop out. Only when Trang was bed-ridden for quite some time did she realize how her mattress was of poor quality. She started searching for a better option but anything good was of course, not affordable. These high-quality products were all imported, and came at a very hefty price tag. When Trang shared this insight with Vinh, he agreed and they both decided to change that. The idea of Ru9 was born.
But they couldn’t leave their day jobs just yet. Vinh was working in travel technology and Trang had been climbing the corporate ladder with leading marketing agencies. Thanks to their respective career trajectories, they had both built a solid network which proved useful as they started doing research on how people in Vietnam felt about mattresses. What was the overall perception of the market? What are the opinions on the current offerings? Do people seek out mattresses for themselves or do they go with whatever was already in place? Are a good mattress and a good night’s sleep even a priority? If so, how much are they willing to pay?
For many months Trang and Vinh collected data and through their questions they learned that many people have misconceptions of what a good mattress is. “Most people here think their back should align with the surface, so the harder the better. But that’s not true. Your mattress should align with your back as there is a natural curve in your spine,” says Trang. So ultimately, it’s not only about creating a high-quality, affordable mattress in Vietnam, but to also change these misdirected perceptions. As Trang puts it: “Vietnam’s mattress industry was a sleeping giant and we at Ru9 intend to rouse it.”
What is Ru9?
Why don’t we let Trang explain? “To keep it short, Ru9 is a new player in the sleep industry unlike any other. Our mission is to bring good sleep to as many people as possible and be personable and approachable while we do it,” she says.
This philosophy is already reflected in the name. ‘Ru’ is Vietnamese for ‘lullaby’. Vinh suggested this word because it reminds him of his childhood and brings back fond memories of when he lived with his family in the countryside of central Vietnam. The number 9 is a play on the phrase ‘cloud nine’ and the Vietnamese phrase for ‘good night’. Put them both together and you get ‘Ru9’, a name that is not hard to smile at when you understand the meaning behind it.
And then the product itself had to stand out. Their mattresses are made from a special kind of contour foam which offers the ideal amount of support for any body type. To keep things comfortable even during warm nights, all mattresses contain a special cooling gel which is activated with body heat and helps improve the airflow. On top of this modern technology, Ru9 boasts international certifications proving all its materials are safe for the health of adults and children. It’s not something they just figured out over night. It took them a while to really research and understand the material that ultimately ended up in their product.
To make the customer experience unforgettable though, more than just a cool name and a good product was necessary. Since Ru9 is committed to providing every customer with a personalized approach, they made it their trademark to offer buyers a free 100-day trial period.
Why would they make such a generous offer? Vinh explains it best: “A mattress is a big investment. We want customers to be truly happy with it, so it’s important to give everyone enough time to test it and see if it works for them. If it doesn’t, we take it back, no questions asked.”
Cloudy Days: Challenges Ru9 had to overcome
Creating a high-quality mattress in Vietnam was not easy form the beginning. It was challenging to find suppliers, ensure production standards were met consistently and of course costs had to be managed too.
At first, it seemed like it might not be feasible to create the product Trang and Vinh had envisioned. But as the founders of Ru9, they were determined to push this boundary to create a change, prove it’s possible and keep the whole production local to create a mattress which was the best of both worlds: high quality and affordable due to their unique direct to consumer model. No compromises were to be made.
But manufacturing was only one of many challenges. Another was the market itself. In Vietnam, many people are used to sleeping on a hard surface. Especially among customers from older generations less than 3% were returned, but funnily enough, not due to any defect in the product, they were used to sleeping on bamboo mats on the floor, and found mattresses uncomfortable. Weird world indeed.
Many other people did not think a mattress was worth the investment. This is because awareness of the importance of good sleep is still not as widespread in Vietnam as in some other countries. To help promote this movement, Ru9 is playing an important part in educating the market. But of course, this costs time and resources and requires a team dedicated to their customers’ well-being and happiness.
“Here at Ru9 we already do a good job at making our clients happy, but we always aim to do even better. While I don’t mind losing my own sleep to help others get better rest, it’s been a blessing that our team has been growing steadily and we can now reach out more easily and spread our message,” Trang elaborates.
Why Ru9 and Christina’s: the perfect pair
To help get the word out about Ru9 and share the amazing sleep experience they create, the young company has already paired up with some big brands in Vietnam, one of which is Christina’s.
If you’re wondering why Christina’s and Ru9 are the perfect partners, the reason is very simple. Although from different industries, both companies’ core value is the same: the customer is always the number one priority.
“At Ru9 we want to provide restful sleep for everyone everywhere, both at home and while people are traveling. That makes a partnership with hotels, hostels or serviced apartments the logical next step,” Trang explains. But while a cooperation with other hospitality companies was also on the table, Christina’s was clearly the best fit. Why? Because Christina’s offers more than just a room to sleep in. It’s about the whole experience, and not just the room. It’s about every single thought that goes into every single detail, and it’s also about the hosts, that go out of their way to make the guests feel at home and at ease.
The same is true for Ru9. On top of providing a mattress, they promise rejuvenating, restorative sleep, that will help travelers get the energy they need to go out and explore more of the country.
By combining our offerings, we hope to give Christina’s guests the best possible experience of Vietnam.
The future looks comfortable
Like many successful startup founders in Vietnam, Trang and Vinh look to 2019 with anticipation and excitement, especially since it will be the first full year of Ru9’s existence.
To start the new year at full force, the team has already come up with more ideas for potential collaborations. To fulfill their mission of bringing good sleep to everyone, even outside of their homes, Vinh and Trang are looking to extend their reach to areas that are often neglected by any mattress company. That way the promise of good, restful sleep will be shared with many who will benefit greatly from it.
Many new, exciting products are planned too. “Our R&D team is hard at work to create great products that enhance every aspect of people’s sleep experience and our aim is to become the go-to brand for everything sleep-related,” Vinh says.
Vinh and Trang’s positive outlook is also due to the general atmosphere in Vietnam. Many people are starting something new here now. Countless tech and service startups are everywhere and Ru9 is in the middle of it all. All this has led to a rapid change in people’s mentality and lifestyle and shows no signs of letting up.
On top of growing its own brand, Ru9 aims to make it easier to keep up with the fast pace of change and advancement by helping everyone get the rest and energy they need and supporting local business by working with Vietnamese partners as much as possible.
With all this exciting development and growth, both Trang and Vinh have grown to appreciate more and more the amazing rest they get from their own Ru9 mattresses. According to them, the only thing that makes it even better is a chat with friends and a relaxing nightcap to end the day.
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