Stay Connected, Tanned, and Cool with the “Smart Sunbed”
It’s beach season – or rather “smart beach” season. Wi-Fi access and power outlets for recharging devices aren’t new, but this horizontal market is rapidly growing. Dubai beaches recently installed “Smart Palms”, Wi-Fi and smartphone recharge stations in the shape of a palm tree. Now a young Lebanese entrepreneur has created a “smart mattress”: Beachill.
Beachill is a portable sunbed equipped with a photovoltaic panel that allows users to recharge their mobile or device virtually anywhere, so they can stay connected.
23-year-old architecture student, Antoine Sayah, first presented this concept as a university project last year, when he was asked to develop an object that would make everyday life easier. At the time, his smart sunbed earned him the top grade in class. Now, his creation has grown beyond him.
Stay Cool and Recharge
Beachill promises relaxation and convenience. It is first and foremost a piece of furniture for relaxation. Building on his product design studies in Milan, Sayah made sure the mattress pillow is ergonomic to guarantee maximum comfort.
The mattress allows vacationers to relax and enjoy a day at the beach, at the park, in their garden, etc. It is also foldable, making it easy to carry and transport anywhere.
But convenience doesn’t stop there. In addition to recharging devices, Beachill includes an insulated chamber to keep drinks cool, as well as a waterproof pocket for keeping books or other objects protected.
It’s Smart, and Made in Lebanon
Beachill is fully hand-sewn in Lebanon. The electronic components are imported, then assembled locally.
When he developed his prototype for university, Sayah worked with a single seamstress. The original model he kept in his garden soon drew attention from friends and relatives who placed orders for sunbeds of their own and encouraged him to commercialize his invention.
Since he launched Beachill last June, orders have been coming in faster than they can be handled. “We now have a team of tailors able to produce 10 sunbeds a day, and it is still not enough to satisfy growing demand,” said Sayah. He is still cautious about further expanding production for now, because he fears the hype around Beachill might be only seasonal.
Sayah’s family is supporting him in these early stages, but he said Beachill largely funds itself. Customers and retailers abroad have also contacted him, but he is still working out the logistics and costs of shipping and exporting.
“I still think of myself as a designer, but Beachill has grown beyond my expectations. I am becoming an entrepreneur by force,” he said. Eventually, he would be interested in finding a distributor, whether locally or internationally, to handle sales and marketing. He is aware, of course, that this would mean increasing production, and that would require capital.
Beachill is available in regular or waterproof fabrics. Customers can also customize their own sunbed with different fabrics, colors, and sizes. Sayah still handles orders personally over the phone phone or via his Facebook page, and delivers the sunbeds himself.
No Marketing Budget?!
Sayah said he hasn’t spent a cent on marketing. He launched his Facebook page and Instagram account at the same time as Beachill in June, and the “Likes” and orders just started pouring in.
Websites, newspapers, and TV stations are now harassing him for interviews, and everyone asks him about the next steps. “It is a little unreal. It happened so fast,” he said. Despite all this pressure, the architecture student has managed to stay focused in his studies, and he isn’t rushing into anything.
Before (and if) he considers scaling, he says he will work on developing his business skills first. Beachill and future products will not have a website until he can resolve fully figure out their commercialization.