If you live in a cold climate, you've probably had the same experience Jason Yeh had 2013. A grad school student at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Evanston Illinois --12 miles north of downtown Chicago -- he lived through the worst winter of his life. On his walk to school, he says he had to "trudge through 2-3 feet of snow, all the way up to his knees and fight 20 mph of cold, harsh winds." The sub-zero temperatures made Yeh, a California native's bones ache and ears hurt.
As cold as it was, Yeh, a former professional DJ, loved listening to music and podcasts as he walked to school and would tuck his earbuds under earmuffs, the headgear he wore in place of a hat to keep his mohawk intact. "For those that have ever tried this, you know how uncomfortable it is to wear earbuds when something is pushing them into your ears," notes Yeh. After a while, Yeh was sick of his ears hurting as well as the constant tug of the earbud cords, and longed to find a pair of earmuffs with earphones embedded inside them. At the time, there were two available: Noise Hush or 180s, but neither had adjustable headbands for different head sizes, nor did they focus on providing premium sound quality.
So Yeh did what any self-respecting Millenial would do -- he turned to Indiegogo with the idea for Sound Huggle. "Sound Huggle combines fashion and function, so you can have it all," Yeh boasted. "These wireless headphones are engineered for comfort, warmth, and premium sound quality, providing an easy, stylish solution to enjoying songs with high-fidelity sound." The things that made them truly awesome included:
1. Premium Sound Quality: high fidelity sound with excellent full-range performance, a deep and punchy bass, balanced mid-range tones, and crisp, non-piercing highs;
2. Portability & Rugged Durability: They actually tested durability by running over their invention with a car!
3. Micro-Thermal Design, for ultimate comfort in severe cold;
4. Versatililty and Comfort: a "one size fits all" design suitable for everyone;
5. Accommodation: works equally well with bike, ski and snowboard helmets
To actualize his vision, Yeh returned to his family's roots, partnering with a talented design and manufacturing firm based in Taiwan to bring his idea to life. "The sound quality was toggled to our specifications until it had clear vocals and defining melodies," said Yeh, a 10-year veteran of the professional DJ circuit in both Los Angeles and Hong Kong. "Our key focus was on making podcasts and music crisp for the listener, with no distortion and clean-sounding bass, even at high volume."
The name Sound Huggle combines co-founder Samantha Tran's two favorite activities: snuggling and hugging to make a unique product that she describes as "a hug and snuggle for your ears." Tran and Yeh, who are also a romantic couple, made a lot of sacrifices to bring Sound Huggle to life and make this dream a reality. They explain the power of their vision, which required them to "downsize to a 400 square feet studio, wipe out our savings and borrow against our 401Ks, as well as having to sacrifice nights and weekends with friends and family, while also balancing full-time corporate jobs." With a little less than a week to go for their launch, they're hoping their vision can finally become a reality. Post their crowdfunding campaign, they plan on expanding their business by working with local Portland retailers, and potentially partnering with Amazon's Launchpad program.
Their advice for others looking to launch a product, they are clear. "Build your tribe and following at least 6 months before you launch. Some things we wished we'd done differently is to engage with our tribe via e-mail before we launched, and to take pre-orders to help us better understand pricing, demand, and our target consumers," Tran says.
Learn more about Sound Huggle - The World's Coziest Hi-Fi Headphones on Indiegogo.