Hollywood talent manager Rick Yorn, his entertainment industry attorney brother Kevin Yorn and a couple of Los Angeles technology entrepreneurs have invested at least $1 million in a headphone start-up that donates a hearing aid with each sale.
LSTN sold millions of dollars worth of wood-finished earbuds and headphones in 2014 and expects to release a fourth design and a new product in 2015. Now close to profitability, the West Hollywood start-up plans to use the investment announced Monday to add employees and manufacturing capabilities. The new backers include chief executives Jeff Stibel of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., Peter Kim of Hudson Jeans and John Suh of LegalZoom.
About 20,000 people, from children to the elderly, in Peru, Uganda, China, the U.S. and elsewhere have been given hearing aids as a result of LSTN's donations to the Starkey Foundation. The company declined to release exact revenue or investment figures, saying that it wanted consumers to gauge them based on products rather than size.
Joe Huff, a LSTN co-founder, said he and fellow co-founder Bridget Hilton decided early on that their target customer would be similar to someone who shops at Whole Foods. But despite the mission to give back, he said, the two didn't want the headphones to be a pity purchase.
"It has to stand out on its own," Huff said, adding that the business and fashion expertise of their new investors should lead to improvements.