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Community Highlights: Meet George Bailey of zPods

Today we’d like to introduce you to George Bailey.

Hi George, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I did missionary service for my church in Denmark, which is how I learned Danish. I attended BYU to study Chinese (BA) because I wanted to learn as challenging a language as possible to build on my love of Danish. I obtained an MA in TESOL. At BYU, I taught courses in Danish, Chinese, and English. I then moved to Germany (where I learned German) to teach at Giessen University for three years. There I taught persuasive writing, phonetics and phonology, basic writing, and pedagogy. In total, I taught for nine years and capped my teaching career by being awarded with the Wolfgang Mittermaier Award for Excellence in Academic Teaching.

Over one year prior to moving to Germany, my wife (also from the Bay Area) and I met on a blind date at BYU. We married three months after our first date. We had our first son right before leaving the States. Our second son was born during our third year in Germany. We also have three daughters who were all born in Saint Louis. Of these children, my oldest son and second daughter are autistic, though each manifests it in quite different ways.

My family and I came to Saint Louis in 2010 so that I could study law at Wash U. I had intended to become an attorney, but there was a part of me that was always open to going into business. At law school, I was admitted into the Order of Barristers for my proficiency in oral advocacy and brief writing.

For the first several years after law school, I worked in jobs relatedly directly or indirectly to the financial services. My community engagement included sitting on the board of directors for Money Smarts School of Finance for Children, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis (the “AACC”), and a podcast in which I interviewed successful leaders in business to learn about their childhoods. I still sit on the board of directors for the AACC and recently joined the board of directors for Autism Speaks in St. Louis. I’m also the director of communications for a collection of congregations for my church.

Roughly two years ago, I started working with two fellow board members for the AACC on a series of startup projects. Very quickly, I started to give more attention to just one of those startup projects, zPods. We were exploring a market for capsule bed technology in the United States. Although capsule beds are being used increasingly more widely in Asia for micro-hotels and hostels, we wanted to consider a completely different direction.

We soon found that our beds have great appeal and application in the autism community, which made zPods a passion project of mine. Up to 80% of autistic children have chronic sleep disorders, and up to 90% of autistic children have sensory processing disorders. We thought they might sleep better if we could give them the most soothing sleep environment possible. While consulting with doctors and other professionals in the field, we received strong encouragement to move forward with our idea.

For our first case study, we helped a young woman who was sleeping four hours a night in her closet make the jump to over 10 hours a night. It was shocking to all of us, and we decided to push even harder. We’ve now worked with over 20 families and have seen great success in helping their children sleep. My own family is counted in that number, and my two autistic children love their beds and are sleeping better, too.

We have talked with many, many more families about making our beds more available. These families regularly describe how their children sleep in closets, under the bed, snugly up against the wall, between the wall and the couch, in the bathtub, and even in the dryer in one case.

Currently, we’ve gotten three states to fund the purchase of our beds and are continuing to push in that direction. We’re also putting together clinical trials to find out all we can about why capsule beds seem to be so soothing for these children.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Always bumpy. I have ADHD, which has made it very difficult for me to focus on one path. The financial struggles of pushing a startup up a hill have helped me lock in like nothing else. I also eat more healthy food, get better sleep, and do more exercise to fight through ADHD’s worst impulses.

Also, raising five kids is no joke. Fortunately, I adore my children and practice certain family habits to make sure that we have time. Those include game night, movie night, and time reading the scriptures as a family. We try to go on walks when possible.

My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me. She helps keep me focused. She and I consult on all important business decisions. She’s easily one of the smartest people I know. We’ll watch a movie, and she’ll rattle lines off from the film verbatim. She brings a science background to the family that my family never had growing up. She’s a treasure.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
My role in zPods is manifold. I talk with parents who are interested in trying our beds, put together some of our marketing materials, and do some of our legal. The most important thing I do is tell our story. I love story and the power it has to grow a business. I love words and language and the influence they have on how we think. I’m proud of the following that we’re building and am grateful for the followers.

We work every day to make sure we can stand behind our product. We’re careful not to make any medical claims. At the same time, we take the science of sleep and sleep environment very seriously, which is why we’re doing clinical trials. We’re also doing everything we can to persuade states to provide funding for the families we work with who are in need.

We believe our idea has a broader application than just the autism community and plan on looking at ADHD, PTSD, and other disorders that create substantial obstacles to good sleep.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I remember listening to a presentation in law school from somebody who had led a successful career in government. He said—and I paraphrase—that luck happens to everybody; you just need to learn to identify it when it’s happening to you.

That being said, I believe that those who enjoy wonderful blessings—and I have been so, so blessed—should seek every opportunity to share with those around them.

Pricing:

  • $3999.95 for a zPods bed.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
My wife or I took all the photos, except two. The picture of me and my wife was taken by Red Carpet. The picture of the bed is zPods’ picture.

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