One Saturday afternoon in fall 2007, Seth Burgett had an epiphany two-thirds of the way into a six-hour triathlon training regimen: His ears hurt more than the rest of his body because of ill-fitting earbud headphones.
Using his background in medical device design, Burgett mapped the ear's five pain points and started making prototypes of earbud covers using clay, which he baked in his oven and cooled on a pizza pan in the snow until he could try them on. What he came up with are Yurbuds, earbud covers that are contoured to avoid pain points. Unlike most earbuds, they rest on the back and bottom of the ear rather than in the canal, which changes shape with movement. As a result, they stay put better.
Burgett founded Yurtopia in St. Louis in 2008. Today, the company sells Yurbuds in six sizes. Online customers are encouraged to take a picture of their ear next to an earbud or quarter, which Yurtopia uses to calculate size using a proprietary algorithm. Yurbuds, which can be used to cover most earbuds and Bluetooth headsets, cost $20 a pair. They can also be bundled with Yurtopia's headphones for $30.
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