As the CEO of pillow and mattress brand, Levitex, James Leinhardt, has already experienced plenty of ups and downs in his time as a company founder.
As the UK’s leading sleep posture expert who has already worked with the likes of Gabby Logan, Jo Whiley and Kadeena Cox, he set up the Manchester-based business in 2019at a time whenthe term‘global pandemic’ was something we only read in history books.
Despite all of the challenges, the growth of Levitex since that time has been phenomenal.
UK retailers such as Next and Dreams are now selling Levitex products;multi-national and large corporate businesses such as HSBChaveused James to help thousands of their staffwho were struggling with sleep through lockdown;James created a special ‘proning’ pillow that has helped save the lives of patients on COVID wards; andathletes all over the UK are sleeping on Levitex surfaces, including the entire ParalympicsGB team who took their pillows to Tokyo this year.
“It’s been a whirlwind couple of years, but we’re just getting started,” said James.
“What we’re doing with Levitex is educating the world about the importance of sleep posture. Most people on planet Earth sleep in the wrong position and barely anyone really knows what they’re sleeping on or why.
“The single biggest reason we don’t sleep at night is because we’re uncomfortable. The second biggest cause of work absence in the UK is musculoskeletal problems–typicallyback pain, neck pain or repetitive strain injury. But no-one has been joining up the dots.
“The average person spends 8 hours a day sitting at their desk for work and we’ve been told not to slouch ever since we were little. There are also ergonomic chairs, posture vests and lots of expensive gimmicky products that claim to help day-time posture, but we spend 8 hours a day sleeping and no-one has stopped to think about posture at night-time. Nobody has put the two together and thought about sleep posture, until now.”
Getting Levitex off the ground
Going back to the start in 2019, securing funding was a must for the fledgling companyand James set up a Kickstarter campaignto get backing from people that shared his passion and belief that the UK’s sleep market needed a big shake-up.
Hundreds of backers came from all over the world with the business smashing its original Kickstarter target within a matter of days. It remains one of themost successful campaignsin the site’s history, finishing more than 330% over target.
“The Kickstarter campaign was an unbelievable success for us and I’m still so thankful to all of those people that believed in us from day one,” says James.
“We use a special type of polyurethane foam technology at Levitex. It’s a patent-pending innovation we created, and it’s used in all of our pillows and mattresses.
“But the big differentiator has always been our focus on sleep posture. We’re not sleep experts – there are so many variables that go into creating a ‘perfect night’s sleep’ and anyone claiming they can do that is lying. But we can improve our sleep quality through better night-time posture, and that’s whatwe’ve been screaming from the rooftops!
“There’s nobody else like us in the market, and through clinical trials with the University of Salford, the pressure relieving qualities of our foamhave been proven to be so much better thanother lying surfaces like air sprung mattresses or memory foam. We’re not one of these companies that is full of marketing fluff – there’s an evidence-based approach to everything we do. There are actually four different sizes of pillow designed to suit people of all shapes and sizes and allour products have been engineered to optimise the quality of people’s sleep.
“We’ve already woken so many people up to the fact that what we lay on at night has a huge impact on our sleep quality. Awareness is growing, but we still have a long way to go in our mission to educate the world about the importance of sleep posture.”
People are still waking up to sleep posture
With plenty of famous fans already and a growing number of people switching to Levitex products, the future is even more exciting than everything that’s happened in the last two years, according to James.
“When I look back on what we’ve achieved with Levitex, there are definitely some standout moments.
“We had loads of Olympians as well as the full Paralympics GB team on Levitex pillows this year and that was massive. Watching people we’ve helped winning bronze, silver and gold medals – that was immense.
“The proning system we created was also a big one. We were approached directly by the clinical lead consultant at the Royal Preston Hospital to see if we could come up with something that could help COVID patients breathe more easily, and to see that created, manufactured and deployed in a matter of weeks was unbelievable. That just doesn’t happen in the NHS but we’ve been able to make a massive difference there and the staff have told us that we’ve saved lives.
“I was also Interviewed by Peter Flavel– the CEO at Coutts earlier this year, which is the bank that the British Royal Family use!I got to speak to all of their staff about sleep posture and the impact of working from home and that was so well received.
“The HSBC talk was very similar. A global wellbeing survey they ran with 150,000 responses found that mental health, exercise and nutrition were all well covered, but more than half the staff complained of poor sleep. So many companies all over the world have spent their budgets and efforts focusing on things such as mental and physical health through the pandemic, but sleep – which underpins all of the elements of wellbeing – is completely overlooked.
“Despite everything though, I feel like we’re only just scratching the surface. There are1.3million people in care home beds or hospital beds sleeping on pillows and mattresses that are not fit fur purpose. Our efforts at Levitex have to be doubled to help people like that as they are the most important.
“Even a recent webinar I did for clinicians found that 30% of them sleep on their tummy – which is awful for posture. If this group have no idea about sleep posture, what chance does everyone else have?
“Sleep posture is still a relatively unknown concept, but I love seeing the light bulb moment in people every time I deliver a sleep consultation or a webinar.
“The last couple of years have built the foundations for Levitex, but now we are focused on taking it to the next level – ensuring sleep posture is the topic everyone is talking about.”