When Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, a family physician, found herself struggling to fall asleep after being awakened by patient telephone calls, she would listen to meditative music to help get back to sleep. However, she found most headphones to be bulky or uncomfortable, so Dr. Lai decided to invent the product she needed by embedding thin headphones into soft fabric, similar to a headband, which would be more comfortable than conventional headphones and help provide a more restful night.
Dr. Lai and her husband, Jason Wolfe, a video game manufacturer, founded AcousticSheep LLC in 2007. The entrepreneurial couple created AcousticSheep from scratch—literally using a sewing kit to make the first 500 sets of headphones in their home.
After expanding overseas, AcousticSheep experienced difficulty trying to collect from some international distributors and quickly needed a solution. Fortunately, the company discovered EXIM from a contact at its 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, extend competitive credit terms, and support working capital needs. AcousticSheep began using EXIM’s insurance in 2017 to cover its foreign accounts receivable, which restored the company’s confidence in exporting. EXIM broker Meridian Finance Group helps manage their policy at no extra cost.
AcousticSheep has expanded into new markets and increased its export sales with EXIM’s support. With its international sales growing at about 15 percent per year, exports now comprise a quarter of the company’s total revenue. AcousticSheep is successfully selling its products around the world to Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.