We talk to Nicole Horner about the invention of the Sleep Pod and the journey from inception to completion.


This is a collage of images taken from the flip magazine version. The inception editorial on Nicole Horner will be available on the 15th of December 2021.
Flip Magazine Version

A conversation with Nicole Horner, the founder of The Sleep Pod. Her idea was downloaded from the Universe and she was passionate about it.


The Sleep Pod

Most of us love creative and inventive ideas; I’m certainly no exception. One such invention that is drawing media attention is a creation aptly named; The Sleep Pod

These intriguing inventions are the vision of Nicole (van Zyl) Horner, the founder of www.spodstore.com. An environmentally friendly pop-up sleeping solution. These sleep pods have a multitude of uses across so many sectors.

I managed to catch up with Nicole (van Zyl) Horner to learn more about this curious and, quite frankly, genius invention. Their use at airports, churches and events are just some of the uses for this very unique offering.

An image of Nicole Horner standing in a Park. The founder of the Sleep Pod.
Nicole Horner

Where did your professional journey begin?

I was always creative and loved drawing, so I studied Architecture at university and worked for architects during my studies. As a result, I learnt about construction detail and gained confidence in my design abilities. 

How important was your education to your startup?

My education gave me a grounding in construction and design, which enabled me to draw the design of a sleep pod. The theory is important but applying it is critical.

From my experience starting out as a creative, I did have to pool knowledge from my educational background into this project, especially with the design features that had to meet a set standard.

What traits should new talent have?

Well, I don’t think that everyone is the same; however, generally speaking, I think there should be an appreciation for beauty and design, a want to keep improving and a passion for what you do. 

That said, you don’t have to have all of these. It really depends on the person you are. 

What advice would you give someone about starting a company?

Make sure you can start with or without financial backing, then it will work because you have the drive and belief in it. The difference is the scaling of the business. If you have investment, it simply means that you can achieve the desired result faster. Good ideas can attract investment with time, and that is certainly my case as I now have investors after many doors initially closed.

Does social media play a big part in what you do?

Yes, it is the only way to get your name out there until you are established enough to pay for marketing. Social media is a Learning curve, a discipline you need to post all the time. 

“You have to wear different hats – Designer & creator”.

– Nicole Horner

What type of businesses would you love to connect with? Why?

I’d love to connect to glamping businesses as they would use the single and double sleep pods and hospitals, airports, and construction sites. For example, hospitals could use the sleep pods while patients wait for hours at A&E, airports could rent out the sleep pods to delayed passengers whose flights have been cancelled, and construction sites could rent out the sleep pods to labourers who need pop-up accommodation. 

I imagine that event organisers could also find a use for them. Festivals, for example, are an excellent fit for this type of product.

Lettering in the style of graffiti "Never stop". Hand writing. The texture of the old painted wood. Green house wall. This is to reflect the determination of Nicole Horner, the founder of the Sleep Pod.

How would you describe a pod?

It is pop-up accommodation—a tiny timber home on wheels, which gives you your own safe space. We are developing add ons to offer more flexibility so you can have different variations of the concept. These include insulation, electricity and bedding.

Did the idea find you, or did you find the idea?

The idea found me. I downloaded it from the universe and happened to want it. 

How many hats do you have to wear?

Many-a Financial and business planning hats to name a few. Initially, it may seem like too much, but I learnt a lot in my case, and I’m glad that I had to experience them.

How do you manage your time?

Daily, weekly, quarterly – I was in project management, and so I love creating time. Managing your time is critical to owning and running your own business.

 “You either have your own plan, or you are part of someone else’s”.

– Nicole Horner

What was the most rewarding part of being involved with this project? Why?

I think that certainly, in my case, it was watching something develop from nothing into something. So I continue to watch my concept grow day by day and evolve.

What was the most challenging part of being involved with this project? Why?

There is always resistance towards new concepts and ideas, and mine was no exception, however as it becomes more popular, the very people who could be classified as no-believers are now siding the project.

At the very beginning, it can be offputting and shake your confidence a little bit, but you will get more confident and overcome negativity.

An image of a Sleep Pod. The invention from Nicole Horner.

Who came up with the name?

Actually, it was my housemate who came up with the name. It only had a working title at that time, and his suggestion fitted the product perfectly, so I went with it.

What is your vision for this product in the future?

I want them to be everywhere, and I want my product to be very accessible. So although it’s more of a vision than a wish, it would be an enriching part of the experience.

Can you switch creativity on and off? Why?

I’m an early in the morning person, and I find that I work very efficiently. Everyone finds their optimum time to work, my efficiency is very high in the morning, and I can be more creative.

What lessons have you learnt on your journey?

Never second guess yourself, believe in your ideas and pursue your goals. No two people are the same, but most want a better work-life balance and don’t want to be prisoners nine to five.

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