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Exist Tribe Founder Robert Sweetman on Disrupting Sleep Science

Introduction

It’s no secret that sleep plays an important role in our physical and mental health. Yet millions of Americans struggle to get enough rest every night. Even the smallest factors, such as light and sound, can interrupt sleep.

Exist Tribe is offering a solution for restless nights. The company has developed a smart device called a REST Node with lights and sounds to aid sleep. Exist Tribe is also developing Yoga Pods, which are designed to create an ideal sleeping environment. We reached out to Exist Tribe founder and CEO Robert Sweetman to learn the inspiration behind the company.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Zee Zhong

Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?

Robert Sweetman

Everything is tied to your sleep — your immune system, your emotional intelligence, even your earning potential. We have a ton of ways to measure sleep but nothing to do about it. Now, with Exist Tribe, we finally do. Exist Tribe is all about helping you be the best version of you. We focus on sleep. And how we can make you better is through high performance sleep. Our sleep technology is groundbreaking and can permanently get you back to 100% in a matter of weeks. 

Zee Zhong

What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?

Robert Sweetman

I lost a friend to suicide. His mental health was totally off because of his sleep. I dove into sleep science and found out that everything is tied to our sleep.

Zee Zhong

What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?

Robert Sweetman

I was a business person, then a Navy SEAL, and then finished at the top of my MBA class at UCSD. I’d say I’m prepared.

Zee Zhong

What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?

Robert Sweetman

We are launching the REST Node this fall, and then next year, we are launching the Yoga Sleep Pod. We are disrupting sleep science and simultaneously making an impact on sleep health around the world. We are kicking off our pilot study for the 62R program (six weeks to sleep restoration) in a couple weeks. The data from this study will be published in an academic journal.

Zee Zhong

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Robert Sweetman

We have a dozen people on our team. Terry Quinn is our chief of operations and is running the 62R study. Dr. Gaurav Mishra is our sleep medicine advisor. Ben O’Hanlan is our chief of technology and has been building technology for military application for 20 years. We all came together because we were friends, and we saw a chance to make a difference in this world.

Zee Zhong

Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?

Robert Sweetman

There is a ton of competition, but none that compete. Almost all sleep intervention technology is super cheap, rudimentary, and random. Not to say that a white noise machine can’t be effective, but you would have to buy a dozen devices to match what the REST node can do, and you still wouldn’t achieve the same capability.

Zee Zhong

What does your business model look like?

Robert Sweetman

We want to maximize benefit for the user while providing ongoing support. The REST Node comes with a subscription service that gives users access to a high level of engagement. This includes guided meditation, live content, weekly and monthly challenges, sleep measurement tracking, goal setting, and more! The subscription service model will provide stable income for the company and allow for content creators to get paid over time.

Zee Zhong

What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Robert Sweetman

We are using the money we generate from WeFunder to improve the software suite, add content and features, refine the manufacturing process, and purchase inventory.

Zee Zhong

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

Robert Sweetman

Potential investors are getting into a company that is making an impact. Social impact is a major part of our vision. Because we will be providing significant value to customers, we will be able to grow the company quickly and provide healthy returns in the future. We believe the people who work for the company should own it, and the people who believe in our mission should be the investors.

Zee Zhong

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Robert Sweetman

Robert Sweetman: We have no intentions of exiting. Exist Tribe is meant to be a unicorn. We see sales reaching $100 million in the next five to 10 years. In the short term, we are focusing on building partnerships with sales channels that can amplify our success quickly.

We look forward to seeing where Robert and his team take the company. Exist Tribe is currently raising on Wefunder.

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