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In April of 2009, husband and wife team Sara and David Shin launched Sound Beginnings Inc. with a desire to create products and services that enrich the experience of pregnancy and change the way families bond with their babies-to-be.
Sound Beginnings uses the latest in technology and design to allow pregnant women to comfortably and safely play music for their babies in the womb. The Sound Delivery service, to be used in conjunction with Sound Beginnings, allows family members to easily record and share voice messages to be played for baby in the womb. No matter how far away family members might be, they form a connection through sound with the baby.
MO: What inspired you to create Sound Beginnings?
David & Sara: Sound Beginnings was inspired by our yet-to-be-born niece (Scarlett) and the lack of quality user friendly products to play music and voice to the womb in mid-2008.
MO: How have your backgrounds and experiences influenced the development of the company?
David & Sara: David’s background is in economics, finance, and math. Sara’s background is in English and Spanish literature, and anthropology. Our professional experience is in finance and marketing respectively. Our backgrounds have complemented and balanced each other’s. David is much more finance driven with an understanding of the bigger picture. Sara’s experience was based in the retail marketplace and focused on the smaller details, such as package design. We agree that our completely different backgrounds have forced us to think a great deal about and discuss in depth all aspects of our business from the type of accounting to use to design to ultimately how much impact we needed to make in our society. Sara has help me see that we are not just making a quality product but will ultimately play an important role in peoples lives.
MO: What have been some of the challenges of working with your spouse? What are some suggestions for preventing the demands of the business affect your relationship?
David & Sara: There are tremendous stresses in starting a business with your spouse. You are risking all of your savings for something you believe in. That stress can sometimes come out the wrong way when debating about where and how the money should be used or even how things should be worded on packaging. Discuss and know the risks and rewards before you enter into any financial endeavor. We were somewhat optimistic at the outset as to how long the business would take to grow. You must know that you are willing to hang in for the long term and to work through the difficulties together.
I would also recommend if you are going to work with your spouse, please figure out who is better at a particular job and let that person do their job, and trust and believe that they will do it better than you and let them do it.
In addition, it can be difficult to find a work/life balance as the business can easily become all-consuming. We run the business from our home, which presents certain challenges with space. It is easy to work too much or become very distracted not put in enough time. It is key to keep revisiting and discussing these issues.
MO: Can you tell us about the technology you’ve created to allow pregnant women to comfortably and safely play music for their babies in the womb? What are the advantages of engaging in this practice?
David & Sara: We spent an inordinate amount of time in designing the Sound Beginnings, we spent hundreds of hours interviewing women about what they wanted, liked, and what they hated in the past and current about products to play music for baby-to-be. Some of the most consistent answers were safety, comfort and ease of use. Sound Beginnings uses high quality waterproof speakers, which limit the amount of sound pressure that can be delivered to baby, no matter how high the volume of the iPod/MP3 player. We use a double ply fabric band for comfort and support. We made Sound Beginnings machine washable (speakers and all) to make mom’s life that much easier, and no assembly or disassembly needed (speakers are integrated into the fabric).
MO: If you had to put together a small, pre-natal playlist for a baby, what songs, composers or musicians would be on it?
David & Sara: The product allows parents to begin sharing themselves with their baby in the womb. It is a deeply unique and personal experience. David likes classical music, mostly piano solos, but would also add a little Jack Johnson and Weezer. Sara would include spoken-word favorites, including recordings of children’s classics.
MO: You have received a great deal of coverage and recognition within the media, not to mention various awards. How have you managed to gain such impressive traction and attain such a strong public profile for your product? What is your marketing strategy and has it evolved since you initially launched?
David & Sara: Besides moms being extremely smart, they want the best for their babies. We wanted to the quality of our Sound Beginnings to speak for it’s self. Moms and experts have recognized Sound Beginnings as being the BEST in safety, comfort and ease of use
While we have used mainstream marketing and PR outlets, we have found the word-of-mouth to be spread by online sources, such as mommy bloggers, to be a great resource for us. We love it when someone tries our product and shares their experience. That is the best advertising of all.
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