Joshua Fairbairn and his team of co-founders at Utah startup HeadCase have a lofty goal. They are going to contribute to the fight against world poverty by selling headphones. Of course selling products and tying them into charities is nothing new, however Fairbairn is trying to put a new spin on the concept, launching their “premium” headphones with a direct tie in to a different charity with each model.
The company is calling their philanthropic headphone campaign #MoreThanMusic.
On the social side of things HeadCase is using the slacktivist model to donate health kits to children in need, shoes, aftercare for victims of human trafficking, vaccinations for Polio and pumps for farmers in Kenya.
On the headphone side of things, the HeadCase headphones come in a variety of colors. The company also boasts that they are durable, stylish and lightweight. Best of all the 50mm speaker drivers used in every pair of headphones are built at the same factory as Senheiser and Dre Beats.
Combine the two and you have a recipe for sound social entrepreneurship.
The charities that HeadCase has aligned themselves with are; One Day’s Wages, Soles4Souls, The Global Poverty Project, Free The Children and The Adventure Project.
Elyakim Samuel (CEO), and Samantha Bruandet (CFO) round out the founding team of socially conscious entrepreneurs.
We got a chance to interview Fairbairn, check out our interview below.
We have produced a pair of headphones that is looking to take down the current monopoly in the industry. Our headphones have premium sound quality, stylish design, and are very affordable. The 50mm speaker (compared with the standard 40mm) bumps out a clear and powerful sound that cannot be compared. The design comes in 5 sleek matte colors that will bring style to anyone who rocks them. We use these beauties to make a difference in the world. Each color of our cans is teamed up with a powerful charity. We have created metrics with each of these organizations to help in the fight against global poverty:
• With every 5 #HeadCaseBlue sold translating into 1 Health Kit for 2 Children in need.
• With every 1 #HeadCaseYellow sold translating into 10 Pairs of Shoes.
• With every 25 #HeadCaseBlack sold translating into 6 Days of Aftercare for Victims of Human Trafficking.
• With every 1 #HeadCaseRed sold translating into 5 Vaccinations for Polio.
• With every 40 #HeadCaseWhite sold translating into 1 Pump for Farmers in Kenya.
Our #MoreThanMusic” campaign is raising social awareness through a pair of headphones that are looking to mix things up.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Joshua Fairbairn – Kahuna – Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Josh headed South to unversity in the U.S. After moving to Guangzhou, China for an internship through his school, BYU, Josh started a company called JF Imports & Exports. Josh learned to quality control, production development, brand creation, and sourcing techniques through connecting with his network and helping them to get products from China. After quickly gaining an expertise in these fields Josh lost passion for what he was doing. He loves music. Pursuing the creation of a perfect pair of headphones would be living the dream. Upon arriving in China Josh was hit with a flash of poverty that he had never before witnessed. This was happening across the globe. Something needed to be done. Why not harness the power of music and the power of socially aware young people to stand up and make a difference. That’s how HeadCase was born.
Samantha Bruandet – CFO – Samantha hails from France but comes from English descent. She speaks Russian, Mandarin Chinese, English, and French fluently. She attended the European Business School in London, England where she majored in Int’l Business w/ a focus on Mandarin Chinese. Upon graduation she turned down her acceptance into the Master’s Program at Polytechnic University in Hong Kong to begin her own business. Finding that furniture was not her passion she used her experience in logistics and finance to be the woman behind the cash at HeadCase.
Elyakim Samuel – CEO – Elyakim started his entrepreneurial endeavors through his webpage (www.bedifferentbydesign.com) which is a global coalition of designers and creative individuals that ultimately will come together to impact people by using the medium of design. Right now its a blog and graphic resource hub. His design and organization skills are the glue that hold the team together.
Where are you based?
HeadCase is an internationally diverse start-up being located in 5 countries (U.S., Canada, China, France, & India) speaking a total of 8 languages. Our official headquarters are located in Alpine, Utah.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
For now being based out of Guangzhou, China has been a real experience getting to learn so many young & aspiring entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial scene here is still quite young. There are many traders and masters of import/export but for now these are mostly experienced veterans. Everytime we go out in Guangzhou we are noticing more and more foreigners. A majority of these are young people who are learning the importance of investing in living in a place such as China. This place is on the rise! The entrepreneurial circle is very tight knit with a lot of networking. You can walk into any restaurant, bar, pub, or club in Guangzhou and sit down with somebody doing big business.
What problem does your startup solve?
Currently the headphone industry is monopolized by only a few players. They offer only 2 kinds of headphones:
1) Expensive and Lacking Style
2) Cheap & Stylish
We offer the solution by producing a pair of headphones that has the quality specifications of all the big names while keeping the design cool and the price affordable. The reason we are able to do that is because we are here at the source. I’ll tell you one thing, Dr. Dre is not located at the heart of production. With no middle man there is no jacking up of the prices.
Also, we are solving the problem of a lack of commitment to standing up to important issues. With each purchase of our headphones we are pushing to eradicate global poverty. The community behind our team is fearless.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Anyone who has started a company knows that it’s almost impossible to limit the process to one challenge. However, I believe that through the development of HeadCase the biggest challenge has been to block out the haters.
“Headphones is way to hard of a market to penetrate.” “You’re going up against Dr. Dre Beats?” “You have no chance.”
I believe it is important to take these people’s “best wishes” with a grain of salt. Ultimately they will be your consumers so make sure to hear what they are saying, but do not listen. Find your vision, make it excellent, and ride it out.
Who are your mentors and role models?
My role model is Richard Branson. He is a perfect example of an entrepreneur who takes a brilliant idea (also happened to be involved with music) and used it to create an empire that helped the world. He has said many times that if you are in a position to help people you better do that. The HeadCase community plans to do just that.
My mentor is Ron Lindorf, my Entrepreneurship professor at BYU. While most professors offer in-class instruction, half of the grade in Ron’s class was to go out of the class and start a business that brought in revenue. He taught that the way to get things done was not to talk about it but to go out and get it done. Ron is the founder of multi multi-million dollar businesses and I listen to everything he tells me. I encourage all university aged entrepreneurs to reach out to their cool professors. They are willing to help.
Whats one thing the world doesn’t know about you or your startup?
I have had a lot of people criticize our business model. They tell us that our use of charity work combined with our product is simply a marketing ploy. I would like to push them to take a look at the ten transparent dollars we donate to fulfilling the metrics created with our 5 organizations, our price point and our specifications compared to the Dr. Dre Beats for example, calculate our profit margins and then get back to me. This product is about much more than creating a money-making product. It is about creating a movement and raising social awareness to create a HUGE community through the best pair of headphones on the market.
What’s next for HeadCase?
After our IndieGogo campaign comes to an end we will accept the next round of investment to push us through our chain distribution channels and continue selling via our e-commerce website at www.headcasesound.com
We are looking to be featured in as much press as possible to spread the word.