When Bridget Hilton co-founded LSTN, her mission was simple: change the world through sound. So far, this dynamic audio company with a purpose is doing exactly that.
LSTN sells headphones, speakers and earbuds that are created from real exotic wood. Every time someone purchases a LSTN product, proceeds are donated to provide hearing aids to someone in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Since far LSTN has helped more than 20,000 across the world people hear.
We sat down with Bridget to learn more about the company and the postive impact they’re having across the globe.
(As a gift to the about.me community, LSTN is offfering free shipping on new orders. At checkout use promo code: aboutme)
What was the genesis of 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 real wood because not only does it make them stand out from the pack, they sound amazing as well.
Proceeds from each sale help someone hear for the first time. Where are the communities across the globe that you have supported?
Starkey Hearing Foundation works in over 100 countries worldwide. They’re incredible. LSTN has been lucky enough to join them in the U.S., Peru, Kenya, Uganda, China, Sri Lanka and Indonesia so far. Our next trip is in a few weeks to Mexico and we look forward to being a part of many more journeys.
The headphone marketplace is a large one. What makes your headphones unique and stand out from the crowd?
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. Our headphones stand out in a crowd full of neon, plastic headphones with the real wood that we use to make them.
How do you balance being able to provide money to charity and also grow and thrive as a business over the long term?
It goes hand in hand. We definitely get opportunities not available to non-giving companies, such as corporate partnerships with amazing companies like Google, Spotify and more. The word of mouth aspect about what we do gives us the advantage of not spending as much money as a regular audio company on advertising.
What advice would you give to people who are looking to start companies that have a positive impact on society?
Just do it – it will be the best thing you’ve ever done. Building a brand, traveling, helping others – what could possibly be better? Go for it!