Eight Sleep

For taking sleep -- not just mattresses -- seriously

Co-founder and VP of brand and marketing
Alexandra Zatarain
New York, NY
Consumer Products & Services

Alexandra Zatarain grew up far from the clubby world of Silicon Valley, in Tijuana, Mexico. Today, as co-founder of Eight Sleep, maker of sensor-equipped smart mattresses that provide sleep data to slumber geeks, she’s very much a part of the Bay Area’s venture-backed tech scene. Watching her co-founders, which include her husband, the company’s CTO, reach out to their existing networks of largely white, male investors taught her a lesson about how racial and gender-based inequality is perpetuated in liberal enclaves such as the Bay Area.

As Zatarain sees it, the tech scene didn’t become unwelcoming to women on purpose, exactly. “Almost no one in this boy’s club is trying to keep us out in a premeditated way,” she says. “It just happened and keeps happening because that was natural” and convenient for the existing participants: They sought investment from successful entrepreneurs they already knew, all of whom just happened to be white and male.

Now, her mission is to bring underrepresented groups into Eight Sleep’s pool of talent and investors, saying that the only way to solve systemic inequality is to swim against the current status quo. “My feeling is I have been given an opportunity to get inside,” she says. “Now it's my chance to bring other people into these circles—to do that job of diversifying. Because it won't happen on its own.” She recommends that other founders start by networking outside their usual social groups early—“make diversity in investing a priority from the early days,” so that when crunch time comes, they can move fast when it counts. – Burt Helm

Other Inc. Honors

  1. 2020