An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Ely Tsern (co-founder and CEO) of Bryte, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Bryte – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Co-founder John “JT” Tompane started the company in Los Altos, inspired by his and a friend’s experiences. JT had long suffered from overheating and sweating during the night that caused him to wake frequently, causing him to rarely enjoy a full night of restorative sleep. In 2016, he was moved to action by the experience of a dear friend, who, after falling from a horse, became afflicted with body pains during the night and could not find a mattress that she could sleep comfortably on.
JT quickly assembled a top-notch team of sleep scientists and technologists, including co-founder and CTO Jonny Farringdon, an expert in biometrics and AI, as well as me, a former technologist at Rambus with more than 180 patents to my name. Together, the team scoured the latest developments in sleep science and quickly realized that there’s a mismatch between what we now know about sleep (most of which has been discovered in the last dozen or so years) and the state of mattress technology, which has not meaningfully progressed in 200 years.
This highlighted two major opportunities: First, to completely reinvent the bed from scratch, based on everything that we DO now know, with the express intention of being able to actively improve a person’s quality of sleep, unlocking its natural restorative powers. Then, to think bigger than “just” the bed itself, and really consider it as the centerpiece of a connected platform with AI at the core, something that could finally offer active sleep improvement in a way never previously thought possible.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
The complex nature of sleep itself. From our earliest research into available sleep science, we learnt three fundamental challenges facing any team that sought to improve sleep quality:
- Sleep is very personal – what encourages restorative sleep for one person may disrupt it for another.
- Sleep is contextual – it is easily disrupted by many factors, from the environment, to daytime activity, physiology, and more.
- Sleep is dynamic – sleep needs are constantly evolving and changing as we age over the years, from one night to the next, and even throughout the course of the night.
Therefore, in order to meaningfully improve sleep quality for any person, we need to understand the needs of each individual person and their environment uniquely, and be constantly adapting to these needs in real-time while the sleeper is asleep and unconscious. This is exactly what we use AI for.
What does the future hold for Bryte?
We look forward to announcing some major news in all categories of our business – consumer product developments, more luxury hotels joining our portfolio, and of course, major developments in the B2B licensing front.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Los Altos?
I’ve lived in Los Altos since 1995 and I must say that I think it’s magical, both professionally and socially, and in the way these intersect within the community. In fact, JT and I met through our daughters who became friends at kindergarten! Since then, we have been grateful to have met and built relationships with so many amazing people, several of whom have since invested in Bryte or become members of our advisory board.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I think the most important thing is to always bring in the absolute best talent that you can, without compromise. This especially applies to early employees, of course, as every single person exerts huge influence on the direction and success of the company during the formative years. I’d also extend this to your advisory board. You can only afford to hire so many people full time, but you can multiply your network, connections, and experience by surrounding your company with proven experts and connectors that help you punch above your weight.