Local entrepreneur honored with Governor’s 2013 Entrepreneur ImPAct Award

Hershey, PA—Dr.Wei-Shin Lai, CEO of AcousticSheep, LLC, was honored as the recipient of the Governor’s 2013 Entrepreneur ImPAct Award for the Central Prep Region at the Hershey Lodge on May 23.

The Governor’s Entrepreneur ImPAct Award is given each year to an entrepreneur who has led his or her company to a position of strength in the marketplace by way of growth in one or all of the following areas: creativity, innovation, managerial ability, leadership skills and turnaround.

Lai, of Centre County, was nominated for this award by the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“It is an honor for her to be recognized in the inaugural year of the ImPAct Awards,” said Linda Feltman, senior business consultant at Penn State’s SBDC. “I was delighted for her to get the recognition she deserves. She and her husband worked really hard to take an idea that started in their kitchen to $2.2 million in sales. It is really remarkable.”

Lai founded AcousticSheep, LLC in 2007 and has served as CEO since its inception. The company designs and distributes innovative headphones for a variety of lifestyles.

According to her nominator, the growth and success of AcousticSheep can be accredited to Lai’s understanding of how to “leverage available technology with refreshingly simple practicality to create a product that represented an innovative advance and creative solution to what could be perceived as a common consumer need.”

Through that leadership, Lai grew the company from $28,000 in sales in 2007 to 1.2MM + in sales in 2012. During those five years, AcousticSheep grew from ten employees, two facilities to a company that ships products internationally, with resellers in nearly a dozen countries.

Today, AccousticSheep products can be found all over, including websites such as Amazon.com, ThinkGeek.com, Best Buy.com, and retailers such as J&R Music and the Cleveland Clinic.

As a family doctor, Lai found it hard to get back to sleep after a late-night call. A self-described, “light-sleeper,” Lai created SleepPhones®, a refreshingly simple headband design that cleverly incorporated audio headphones. After realizing the life-changing ability of a good night sleep, Lai patented the design and started the SleepPhones company.

Described by the brand as, “Pajamas for your ears,” SleepPhones are a lightweight, fleece headband that contain thin, removable speakers and plug into most audio devices. SleepPhones are used to help the customer quickly fall asleep and stay asleep.

The patented SleepPhones® have been praised by the likes of Dr. Oz, Prevention Magazine, the New Rikki Lake Show and the Today Show.

As a female entrepreneur who started a business from home while continuing with her medical career, Lai is actively involved in helping other women who face similar challenges when starting a business. She has served as a guest speaker and presenter for various functions and groups, as well as a mentor to other female SBDC clients who have started businesses from home.

From the life-changing testimonials from satisfied clients, to Lai’s willingness to mentor other business owners and give back to her local business community, her impact is felt on multiple levels.

Besides inventing an innovative solution to an old-age problem, Lai’s company also embodies environmental and social responsibility. The fabric for the SleepPhones is made primarily from recycled bottles, and the headbands are sewn locally in Pennsylvania.

The company also carries other products, including CDs and MP3 downloads, carefully crafted with songs and sounds that utilize binaural beats technology to initiate a deep sleep. The company also sells SleepPhone accessories, as well as RunPhones, a daytime version of SleepPhones that help keep earbuds in while still allowing the customer to hear traffic and surrounding sounds while running or biking.