How can workers retain their productivity during long work days? Mihaylo MBA alumnus Kevin Pham ’12 believes a power nap is key to improving work performance. He has launched NappifyTM, a mobile sleeping-pod business to enable employees or students to take naps amidst their work shifts or studies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sleep inefficiency is a major public health problem. Work schedules and 24/7 access to technology are major hindrances to working adults achieving the full eight hours of rest recommended for each day. Nearly 30% of adults report getting less than six hours of sleep per day in the National Health Interview Survey. The consequences can be serious: Lower work performance and even falling asleep on the job, including while using machinery or driving, impacts one in three workers.
Mihaylo MBA alumnus Kevin Pham ’12 recognized the need for rested workers as an innovative business concept. In 2014, he founded Nappify with $100,000 crowdfunded chiefly from friends and family. The startup involves mobile nap pods in a modified trailer that includes a lobby and four air conditioned soundproof sleeping pods. Nap sessions of 45 minutes cost $13 for employees and $7 for college students.
Pham debuted his nap business at Santa Ana College, Orange County’s largest community college, during final examinations at the end of the spring 2016 semester. The grand opening received media coverage from 55 news outlets, including NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and Telemundo.
The Inspiration for a Nap-Based Business
As a Mihaylo MBA student, Pham would often discuss business concepts with his fellow classmates. These conversations continued after his graduation. It was then that he was inspired by studying nap culture in East Asia, where the society greatly values workplace efficiency. He discovered that in countries such as Japan and Vietnam, naps play a major role in helping workers stay alert during long and demanding shifts.
“I came up with the idea in 2015, when I first saw a YouTube video of a nap salon in Japan,” he says. “I started to incorporate the concept into a trailer-based business and my brother, Ken Pham, decided to join me as co-founder. We put our heads together to create a mobile nap station that can accommodate guests with amenities for a quality power nap.”
Designing Nap Pods
“We designed the nap pods with four priorities in mind: cleanliness, privacy, comfort and safety,” says Kevin. “We made the pod big enough for a twin mattress and folding table. We make the beds with clean sheets and fresh pillowcases after each guest visit. The pod is soundproof, air-conditioned and has an emergency window. We also use a natural lighting system in each pod to wake up guests when their time is up. The trailer is 17 feet long and eight feet wide, which is a good size for any parking lot or to be parked next to a building for servicing guests and staff. The key is to make the trailer convenient and low-profile, so it can be located at strategic locations without obstructing traffic and other business activities.”
While there is currently only one nap trailer, Kevin already has expansion on his mind. “The next generation trailers will have twice the capacity. We hope to gradually deploy more trailers to meet with a growing demand.”
Advice to Students
Pham graduated from Arizona State University with undergraduate degrees in finance and marketing in 2006. He earned his graduate degree in business at Mihaylo to improve his career chances.
“My advice to fellow Titans is to connect the dots. I like to share a great quote from my idol Steve Jobs: ‘You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.’ You have to have a passion and love for what you are doing and never give up on your dream. You have to proactively connect with people whom you trust, and they will support you along the way. Your personal contacts, knowledge and ideas don’t get connected themselves, only you have the power to connect them and draw a unique beautiful picture, which is your own rewarding success.”
The Role of SBDC
In developing his business model, Pham received support from Katie Nguyen ’96 of the Santa Ana office of the Orange County Small Business Development Center (SBDC), part of the Orange County/Inland Empire SBDC network led by the Mihaylo College Lead Center, which provides no-cost business advising to small businesses. For more on the SBDC, visit them at SGMH 4157 or online.
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