What originally sparked the idea to start LSTN?
We actually started the company to fund Starkey Hearing Foundation. It wasn’t an afterthought. I had been interested in social enterprise for a while, buying products like Warby Parker glasses and TOMS shoes. One day I saw a video on YouTube about a woman my age hearing for the first time. I found out there are 360 million people just like this with hearing loss. My life has always revolved around music, so I couldn’t imagine what that would be like. It made me wonder if there was an organization out there supporting hearing restoration, so I did some research and found Starkey. At the time, I was working at a record label and did not personally have money to give to them. So I started a company to contribute to their goal of changing the world through sound. Music is the greatest thing in the world – everyone should be able to experience it. In order to change the world, our product had to be cool, and people had to want it – and what’s cooler than headphones right now? We made them out of reclaimed wood because not only does it make them stand out from the pack, they sound amazing as well.
Was becoming an entrepreneur always a part of your life plan?
Being an entrepreneur was always in my DNA. When I was a kid, I’d sit in my room for hours and think about ideas and inventions. However, music was my biggest passion so I jumped right into that industry at 16, working at music venues, retailers and record labels for over 10 years. I never really bothered with school, rather putting my time into reading as many business books as possible, watching as many videos, following as many entrepreneur blogs as I could, researching how to start and run companies, learning how to build websites.
How has LSTN grown since its beginning in 2012?
From idea to company, from apartment to office, from a dream to helping 10,000+ people hear for the first time. At the end of 2012, LSTN was still just prototypes being sold on our site. Now our products are in retailers that I love such as Nordstrom and Whole Foods. We’ve been able to partner with brands that we’re fans of such as TOMS, Movember, Hudson and Spotify. It’s been an incredible learning experience. We’ve been able to travel all over the States, to Asia, South America, and are leaving for the UK and Africa in a week. Very proud of what we’ve built in a small amount of time.
What’s been your number one tool or strategy for growing your company to this point?
Hiring great people who share the desire to build a better life for themselves and others.
Where do you get inspiration from personally and professionally?
Personally I look up to entrepreneurs and companies with forward thinking ideas to make the world a more connected and better place, such as Tesla, Virgin, Facebook, charity:water. LSTN’s mission is to change the world through the power of music. We’re not just another headphone company, we are permanently changing lives with every product we sell. That inspires us every day to do better and grow bigger, so we can help more people connect with others.
Do you find that your age (being a twentysomething) helps, hinders or doesn’t affect you being a successful business owner?
Definitely helps. We may not be as experienced as others, as no one at our company has ever worked in electronics. However it allows us to go in and look at things from a fresh perspective than if we had known everything about the industry. We aren’t jaded, we’re excited to go to work every day and learn new things, travel to new places, meet new people.
What does the future look like for you and for LSTN?
Growing our U.S. distribution and launching internationally are our core focuses. This year we are launching in Japan, South Korea, Australia, and working on deals for a few other territories. We want to be a global brand. For me, I want to gain as many amazing life experiences as I can through music, giving back and entrepreneurship.
Stop doing what others want you to do. Stop being afraid of whatever you are apprehensive about and take the steps to follow your dreams. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.
Check out LSTN Headphones at lstnheadphones.com
Bridget | Website
Founder of LSTN Headphones • 28 • Los Angeles, CA