50+ year-old serial entrepreneur, David Wolfe is only interested in building a company with “a soul.” David is the CEO and founder of Leesa, one of the world’s fastest growing companies. And this CEO is not satisfied with simply disrupting the mattress industry, David is also shaking up corporate social responsibility with an industry-leading initiative (the Leesa One-Ten program donates one mattress for every ten mattresses the company sells). All this from a company that is well, about the age most early-stage companies are still searching for a business model or pivoting their product.
As an experienced entrepreneur David decided with Leesa that he was not going to wait until some yet-to-be-determined date in the future, to turn his attention as CEO to giving back to the community and creating company culture.
“There’s a huge difference between starting a business when you are 23 and starting one when you are 53. I’ve done both. In your 20’s the focus is on wealth creation. It’s all about “me.” It’s not that young founders don’t care, it’s just that many of them seem to be checking off a box in their hectic lives when they give back, whether its of their time or their money. I’ve always felt it’s important that “giving” to those who need is just what you do. So with Leesa with did just that. If you wait until you are established and successful, it has less meaning and it doesn’t become part of your company DNA.”–David Wolfe
I caught up with David in New York City, on the eve of the opening of Leesa’s first Dream Gallery in SoHo.
How did you convince your partners / investors to get behind Leesa’s One-Ten Program?
My co-founder and my founding management team share my dream to build a company that measures its success as much by our impact on the world as we do by our revenue and profit. I think its fair to say that my co-founder’s natural instinct was to wait until we could “afford” to do the things we are doing but as soon as I said “that’s just the point. If you wait then you aren’t building a company with a purpose.”
I didn’t realize how powerful this could be until our second major donation, to the Bowery Mission in New York City. A big team from Leesa came up from Virginia Beach with a truck full of mattresses and it was a life changing moment for us all. It was at that moment I realized that homelessness doesn’t discriminate.
When we raised some external capital from TitleCard, I’m certain that one of the appeals was our social impact. Tyler Tysdal the CEO of TitleCard came to our Bowery Mission gifting event (and subsequently led Leesa’s gifting event at the Denver Rescue Mission). Tyler stood with his young son on his shoulders almost in tears as he said how proud he was to be part of the work we are doing.