How Our Headphones Start-Up Helped 10,000 People Hear for the First Time How Our Headphones Start-Up Helped 10,000 People Hear for the First Time

How Our Headphones Start-Up Helped 10,000 People Hear for the First Time

by Bridget Hilton

November 15, 2013

A year ago, LSTN Headphones was still just a concept. All we had was a website with pictures of prototypes of our headphones up for pre-sale and an idea that we could change lives through the power of music—with our business. Since then, we've learned some valuable lessons about starting a business and what it takes to succeed.

Pick a project or idea you're passionate about.

Can you imagine a world without sound? As a music lover, I couldn't imagine never discovering a new artist, never hearing my favorite album, or never going to my first concert. Music is the soundtrack to my life and it's shaped who I am today. I went from being a kid growing up in Flint, MI, learning how to play guitar, to working with some of the biggest artists in the world at major labels in LA.

Set yourself apart from the pack with a clear vision.

When we were first starting out, everyone thought we were crazy to enter a market that seemingly every rapper and electronics company in the world had already set foot in. The problem was that although the headphone market is massive, none of the existing brands were making headphones we wanted to buy. In addition to great sound quality, we set out to create headphones that were beautifully designed and environmentally friendly.

Consider your social values.

When we looked at that massive market, we didn't see another company making headphones that sounded good, looked good—and were doing good. So we set forth on a mission: we'd produce great headphones made from reclaimed wood and, for every pair sold, LSTN would help restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. We make direct contributions to Starkey with each purchase of our headphones.

Remember that success comes in two forms when your business aims to help people.

Running a startup is not for the faint of heart—very little sleep, a lot of travel, no money, constant roller coaster emotions. I recently returned from a trip to Peru, where I got to experience the joy of seeing people receive the gift of hearing—and be exposed to music—for the first time. When I saw the faces that lit up when children connected and communicated with their families, I lost it. It was truly life-changing. It trumped being able to quit my corporate job to do LSTN full-time. It trumped the feeling of getting our product into Whole Foods. It trumped everything we had accomplished to that point because to even change one person's life through our business proved it was working. On that trip, we helped fit 10,000 people in various cities and villages throughout Peru with hearing aids. We made a short video about our journey that you can see below.

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How Our Headphones Start-Up Helped 10,000 People Hear for the First Time