PONS is a newly launched division of Standard Textile. Headed by Cincinnati native Ar-iaya Haile, PONS is poised to introduce a new wave of technologically enhanced home furniture by combining data-driven primary research with an understanding of the needs of the common millennial.
The startup currently offers is a state-of-the-art mattress and bed frame that can be assembled without tools in about three minutes. Like other modern furniture purveyors such as Burrow, the units have built-in USB ports.
“We want to be the high-end IKEA and switch home furniture and textiles to an e-commerce model where we can offer a higher quality product at a lower price, much like the Dollar Shave Club business model,” Haile says.
A pop-up shop is open at 1315 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine to showcase the new beds, acting as a temporary retail location intended to serve as a final decision-making factor for online shoppers. At the time of publication, the company had sold about 100 units.
“People love soft sheets but they hate sleeping hot, so we did a lot of focus grouping in the beginning and we found sleeping cool is one of the top priorities,” Haile says. “I want to understand sleep and what makes someone sleep better. There’s data. Our mission is listening to the world and using technology and engineering to answer that.”
Using a cooling gel incorporated with “proprietary hyper-cooling PONSfoam” the common woes of memory foam — heat retention and stiffness — are eradicated.
Haile graduated from Walnut Hills High School in 2005 and went on to study at the University of Pennsylvania. After that, he worked at Bain & Company in Chicago, where he consulted for two years. After that, Haile went to Beam Global for a year and did corporate strategy work.
He then went to Standard Textile, where he eventually was able to get the company to fund a new division; one of his own. Standard Textile is one of the largest companies in its class, commanding 20 percent of the hospitality market and 50 percent of the nation’s health care market.
“Right now, we’re operating technically as a division, but our external look is as an independent company,” Haile says. “The thought is, as it goes along, we’re going to split when it makes sense. That’s not 100 percent defined, but we want to basically have Standard Textiles as this parent with know-how, as a strategic investor shooting off different e-commerce businesses.”
Haile came back to his hometown of Cincinnati to launch PONS as a pop-up shop, and test out the startup ecosystem here.
To learn more about PONS, visit its shop at 1315 Main St.