Aussie's $20m Pillow Idea While Stranded in Colombia

Aussie’s $20m Pillow Idea While Stranded in Colombia

Ben Goodman was stranded in Colombia when he had a brilliant idea that would increase the value of his and his partner’s company to $20 million.

As a result of his brilliant idea, which he developed while stranded in Colombia, Ben Goodman was able to generate $12 million in revenue in just under three years.

The minds behind Silvi, the first anti-acne bed linen company in the world, are Melbourne native Ben, 32, and his best friend Max Hertan. The company is now worth an astounding $20 million.

When Ben made the decision to travel the world with his then-girlfriend (now wife), he had just quit his demanding 9–5 job as a business consultant.

But a week into the journey in his partner’s native Colombia in January 2020, the pandemic had left the two stranded and unable to travel back to Australia.

“When I found myself in a place where I knew no one and everything was under lock and key, I began to ask myself, “What can I do? What can I be working on?””

Ben has a background in business. He and his friend Jai Felinski co-founded and later sold Pod & Parcel, Australia’s first compostable coffee pods, and they were featured on Shark Tank Australia in 2018.

“I was familiar with building a brand and with e-commerce,” he said.

But this time, Ben’s side business would develop in a completely unexpected way.

“While Max had acne when we were kids, I was always pimply. I had red marks, dry skin around my nose, and dermatitis on my face that frequently flared up.”

Ben started researching while he had plenty of free time and found a company that produced cotton or towels infused with silver to kill bacteria.

“I mused, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we did it as a silk pillow case — and what if it could be 100% antibacterial.””

He then gave Max, who owns a digital marketing company in Melbourne, a call and explained the concept to him.

The two discovered that bed linens are a breeding ground for bacteria, holding 1000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

The two were motivated to make their first joint product—a silk pillow case with silver in it—after learning this revolting fact.

In order to gauge interest in their concept, they ran a test campaign on Facebook that included benefits like acne reduction.

“We got about 700 signups in a small amount of time,” Ben said.

Aussie's $20m Pillow Idea While Stranded in Colombia

The boys decided to continue after receiving enough supportive comments.

After locating a manufacturer—the Oeko-Tex factory in China, which has earned an ethical certification—where Silvi is spun, woven, and assembled, they looked for the right technology to realize their vision. They then had the product tested by a third party organization to ensure that it was truly antibacterial.

“It took 21 products and continuous lab testing to find the right silver ion treatment with a high-quality silk that actually worked to combat acne,” Ben said.

“The final product remained 99 percent antibacterial even after 50 washings.”

The pair introduced their brand, Silvi, in November 2020, and sold $350,000 worth of goods in the first six weeks.

Even though Silvi is now an eight-figure brand and has added additional items like bed sheets, duvet covers, and eye masks, the $89 “original anti-acne silk pillowcase” still accounts for 90% of its sales.

“Judging by the response of people initially, we thought we were onto something,” Ben said.

However, not even he anticipated that it would become the success that it is now.

He claimed that it has advantages for people with all skin types and not just those with sensitive skin.

“Because of the enormous addressable market there, we benefited.”

Ben sent samples to Colombia, but he wasn’t able to physically handle the product until he was able to return to Melbourne more than a year later.

“When we go travelling, my now-wife doesn’t let us sleep on anything else,” Ben laughed. “She doesn’t have acne or anything, but she just dislikes bacteria and wants to keep her skin safe.”

The highest quality silk available, 22 Momme 100% Mulberry silk, is used to make the boys’ silk pillowcases (6A). Antibacterial silver ions are used to treat the silk, which reduces bacteria by 99.7%.

“After just three days, your face spends a third of its life resting on a pillowcase that contains 1000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. It’s these bacteria that are known to trigger acne and breakouts,” Ben explained.

“Acne and other skin issues can be helped by reducing this bacteria.”

According to Business Insider, a typical pillow may contain up to 16 different species of fungus and literally millions of fungal spores if you don’t wash your pillowcase frequently.

One of the many e-commerce brands that benefited from the pandemic was Silvi; by the end of 2021, Silvi was valued at $20 million.

The goal of Silvi, which has so far only launched in the United Kingdom, is to be in every bedroom on the planet.

“We want to help more people change out their dusty cotton pillowcases with our shiny, silky ones and educate them on how this easy change can really help your skin and skincare routine,” Ben said.


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