Success Story

Penn State alumni find startup success with mattress company Tuft & Needle

Daehee Park and John-Thomas Marino

Daehee Park and John-Thomas Marino met as Penn State students; their friendship grew as they worked together on entrepreneurial projects. Today, they're running their own mattress company, Tuft & Needle.

Photo: Michelle Bixby

Penn state alumni John-Thomas Marino and Daehee Park met when they were students at the University. Their friendship led to the creation of Tuft & Needle, a company that flouts conventions of the traditional mattress industry.

As undergraduates in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State, alumni John-Thomas Marino and Daehee Park met through the entrepreneurship program at Penn State.

Both interested in startups, they built camaraderie executing class projects with peers, trading inspiring ideas, and finding passion in their work.

Fast forward to 6 months after graduation, where both had ended up at the same startup in Silicon Valley – but were still looking for a business idea of their own.

And then Marino got married.

“One of the first pieces [of furniture] we bought was a mattress,” he says. “.I ended up spending about $3,500 or so and when we finally got the mattress, we didn’t like it.”

Marino and Park had found their idea.

The mattress company they created, Tuft & Needle, aims to provide a high-quality mattress at an affordable price by bringing mattress production in house.  And the simplified buying process — direct from Tuft & Needle’s website — makes it easier for consumers to know exactly what they’re getting.

“What excites me the most about what we’re doing at Tuft & Needle is changing people’s preconceptions about what they should expect from buying a mattress,” says Park.

And, even more than that, in building the company, the two have designed their dream jobs.

In the end, Marino and Park wanted Tuft & Needle to be more than a mattress company — they wanted to make the world a better place. Quarterly, they now have pallets of mattresses shipped and delivered to various people in need – with a special focus on helping low-income families with children.

They give credit to the University experience as a strong foundation for their current success.

“What’s really great about Penn State is that they give you exposure into other areas, so that you have a really well-rounded perspective on how to approach problem-solving,” said Park.

Marino agrees, “Penn State really enhanced my abilities as an entrepreneur, and really opened doors and opportunities. It’s just thrown fuel on the fire as an entrepreneur.”

”Penn State really enhanced my abilities as an entrepreneur, and really opened doors and opportunities. It’s just thrown fuel on the fire as an entrepreneur.”

John-Thomas Marino
Co-Founder, Tuft & Needle

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