In his teenage years, Mike had problems sleeping. His pillow would get hot, he would toss and turn at night and wake up with a sore arm and a stiff neck. He decided to spend one of his entire paychecks on a pillow. At the time Mike was working at a grocery store and drive-in movie theater. He thought if the pillow was expensive it had to be good.
Mike began his entrepreneurial path early on by starting his own carpet cleaning business. From there he purchased his own lunch wagon, and then went on to own several local bars and restaurants.
Developing the Pillow
By this point in Mike’s life, he had tried every pillow on the market, but nothing worked. One-night Mike had a dream; in it was the idea of inventing his own pillow. He wasted no time and began to work on a prototype and logo. It took about a years’ time until he finally had invented the perfect pillow. Mike was excited and ready to get it to the masses. He went to major boxed stores expecting that they would want to carry his product. He got turned down by all of them.
Having been turned down, Mike knew he needed to find a way to sell his product. Not only to help people sleep better, but to also provide for his family. He had sold his business and was all fully invested in the pillow. A friend suggested he try and sell his pillows from a kiosk in a mall. Unsure of even how to spell the word, Mike gave it a go. It was not the great success he had hoped for; however, one pillow was sold to a customer who ran a local Home and Garden show. The customer liked the pillow so much, he called Mike and offered him a spot in the show.
On the Road
Mike sold out of his pillows at the Home and Garden show. He knew instantly that he now had a way to get his product to customers. Mike began selling his pillows at fairs, home shows, and expos. He landed a booth at the Minnesota state fair that summer and it was a big success.
Mike spent the next several years traveling from show to show selling pillows. Getting to see his customers in person, he learned from them a lot about issues they were having with their pillows and the trouble they were having getting to sleep. He loved being able to demonstrate how the pillow would work for them and customers could see how passionate Mike was about his product and its ability to help them.
Success in Print
On January 3rd, 2011 a human-interest story about MyPillow® was featured in the business section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The story sparked a lot of interest and the company took in more orders than it had in the previous six months combined. Because of its success, Mike decided to write his own newspaper ad. He did something out of the ordinary, instead of it being a direct sell style as most ads are, it simply told his story of how he invented the pillow, his passion to get people sleeping better and the features of the pillow. The ad ran in numerous newspapers nationwide and became a huge success.
Unscripted: MyPillow's First Infomercial
Having success both on the road, print ads, and radio Mike decided the next step would be to advertise on Television. He along with family members and friends pooled their money together to produce a half hour infomercial featuring MyPillow®. Mike appeared as the host despite producers saying they needed to hire a professional actor. Mike was insistent that it be real and unscripted.
The infomercial debuted on October 7th, 2011. At the time, Mike was living in his sister’s basement. In just a few short weeks Mike built an entire call center to handle orders coming in from the infomercial to ensure he had the best customer service. The company expanded rapidly going from just 5 employees to 500 in only 40 days.
Mike appeared on QVC in October of 2012. The audience loved Mike and MyPillow®. Mike has been appearing on air selling his pillows ever since.
Business was going so well that it was time to expand both the call center and manufacturing. The call center went from a small schoolhouse to a large corporate building. Manufacturing went from a local bus shed to a warehouse boasting over 30,000 sq. ft.
After appearing on the Don Imus show, Mike learned quickly that it was important to get the radio host passionate about the pillow as well, so they weren’t just reading an ad, but telling their own testimonial on air. If the audience didn’t believe Mike, they believed their radio host. Mike used this formula and began to air MyPillow ads on many other stations across the country.
Michael J Lindell: An American Dream
"The Mike Lindell Story: An American Dream" is a documentary about how Mike - despite betrayal, adversity, drug abuse, no money and no credit - creates the booming business, MyPillow, and becomes an American success story.
This documentary was shot in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Pantages theater. It is Mike's hope that his story can inspire others to succeed in their life. Towards that, the documentary follows a night show format, hosted by journalist Jann Carl. It features those who have known Mike throughout his years, telling their stories about Mike, and how he overcame his struggles to obtain success.
Today MyPillow® has 15 retail locations, has been featured in many news articles, employs over 1600 people and has sold over 50 million pillows!