A couple in Erie, Pennsylvania, found their entrepreneurial calling in 2007 when they started a business making head phones to help people fall asleep, and named it AcousticSheep LLC. Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, a family physician and her husband Jason Wolfe, a video game developer, grew the business from scratch – literally using a sewing kit in the middle of their kitchen to make the first 500 sets. Dr. Lai created SleepPhones - a comfortable, innovative headphone solution designed to help people fall asleep. It is basically an ear-muff like sound system that can play music, audible books, and other sounds helpful for a restful night.
After expanding overseas, the company experienced difficulty trying to collect from a few international distributors and quickly needed a solution. They learned about the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) from a contact at their local small business development center and regional export network.
EXIM provides U.S. exporters with export credit insurance to protect against nonpayment from foreign buyers and extend competitive credit terms, and to support their working capital needs. AcousticSheep started using one of EXIM’s insurance policies in 2017 to insure its accounts receivable from any further delinquent customers. EXIM covers up to 95 percent of its sales invoice against commercial and political risks. They also work with an EXIM broker from Meridian Finance Group who helps manage its policy at no expense to the company.
Twelve years after the company began on the couple’s kitchen table, Dr. Wei-Shin Lai and Jason Wolfe are successfully making their invention work for others around the world. As a result of working with EXIM, AcousticSheep was reassured they could count on repayment from its international buyers and has expanded into new international markets.