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. They invented a comfortable ear-muff like sound system that can play music, audible books, and other sounds helpful for a restful night.
The founders, 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.
The idea for the SleepPhones came when Dr. Lai wasn’t getting enough sleep from all her late-night patient calls. She needed something that could help her relax, and this is what worked.
Twelve years later, the couple is successfully making their invention work for others around the world – In Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
After expanding overseas, the company experienced difficulty trying to collect from a few international distributors and quickly needed a solution. They found out 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 US exporters with export-financing tools to protect against non-payment from foreign buyers, extend competitive credit terms and to support their working capital needs.
AcousticSheep started using one of EXIM’s Export Credit Insurance Policies in 2017 to insure its accounts receivable from any further delinquent customers. They also work with an EXIM broker from Meridian Finance Group who helps manage the policy for free.
“EXIM Bank has helped increase our confidence in working with distributors in countries we may not have previously considered,” Dr. Lai said. “We plan on using the Bank indefinitely”
As a result of working with EXIM, AcousticSheep expanded into new markets and increased sales.
EXIM Bank has a team of professionals dedicated to assisting minority and women-owned businesses with navigating its export-financing tools. To learn more, feel free to contact a specialist here or visit www.exim.gov.