Bridget Hilton – Founder of LSTN

[quote style=”boxed”]Execute! If you have an idea, write it down. Even if it seems crazy and/or hard, break it down into small steps that are manageable and research on how to complete each step. Google is your friend.[/quote]

Bridget Hilton grew up in Flint, MI and has been a music fiend since she can remember. She worked for major record labels such as Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group for over 8 years doing marketing for some of the biggest acts in music. In the summer of 2012, she started a headphone company in Los Angeles called LSTN (pronounced “listen”). LSTN makes high quality, stylish headphones handcrafted from real reclaimed wood. For every pair sold, they help restore hearing for a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. The team recently returned from a trip to Peru where, along with Starkey, helped 10,000 people hear again. Just over a year old, LSTN has been featured on the Today Show, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post and many more. You can find the headphones at Whole Foods, and are launching in Nordstrom this holiday.

Where did the idea for LSTN come from?

LSTN was started to give back through the power of music. My entire life I have been a huge music fan, and I can’t imagine my life without it. LSTN is really a perfect storm of everything I’m passionate about – music, charity, tech, environment. I was inspired by companies such as Warby Parker – great design, amazing charitable element and building from the ground up into something that changes peoples lives.

What does your typical day look like?

Lots of music, tea, emails and phone calls. It’s been extremely busy lately, so there hasn’t been a real “typical” day. If I’m home in LA, I’m in front of my laptop at our office in West Hollywood, emailing with customers and potential retail, musician, investor and press partners with my awesome team. If I’m on the road, I’m at trade shows, music events or meeting in person with partners or retailers.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Execute! If you have an idea, write it down. Even if it seems crazy and/or hard, break it down into small steps that are manageable and research on how to complete each step. Google is your friend.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

More of a movement than a trend, socially responsible products are really taking off right now. It seems as if every generation cares more and more about giving back and buying from companies that care.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Surrounding myself with people that are extremely hard workers is a great motivator to be productive! “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future” is true.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

As a teenager, I worked at a Dairy Queen in Flint, MI for a week. A week was 7 days too long. I just remember my shoes sticking to the floor because it was covered in ice cream. I left one day and never came back, got a job working with music and haven’t stopped since. Life is too short to not work on something you are passionate about! I also haven’t eaten fast food since. Yuck.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I have had a lot of cool jobs and have met many people that have led me to where I am today, but I wish I had become an entrepreneur earlier. The amount you learn and grow as a person being an entrepreneur vs. a corporate environment is drastically different. It took me too long to realize I was learning to little.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Continue to educate yourself. Read, read, read. Also, put yourself in uncomfortable situations that will force you to grow as a person. For example, I used to be scared of public speaking, but I forced myself to go out and find speaking opportunities, and now I like it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Partnerships with other companies have put us on the map. We’ve done partnerships with Spotify, Lincoln Motor Company, Quarterly, Birchbox, Movember and more. When you partner with a more established company, you get the benefit of opening their consumer’s eyes to your start-up.  It can also completely legitimize your company. Our most important partnership is of course with Starkey Hearing Foundation.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Partnering with people that were in it for the wrong reasons. Partners can make or break companies. Make sure you partner with the right people who have the same goals and expectations as you…and make sure you have a great lawyer. Our team now is amazing, and I couldn’t be happier!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Well, I can never find cool band shirts for women. They are all low quality or men’s sizes. So if someone could start that company, that’d be great 😉 Or maybe I will someday.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I’m addicted to Arnold Palmers.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Spotify is my favorite music service. I really hope it scales to a huge level where artists can make a significant amount of revenue and everyone can have music like water. I love all of the services (Songza, rdio etc), but Spotify is the one I use most.

Memrise is a really cool site for learning. Before I went to China for the first time, I learned how to read a menu in Mandarin. It was insanely easy and actually fun.

Podcasts in general are a huge learning tool for me. My favorite one is probably the entrepreneur interview series by Kevin Rose called Foundation. It’s free on iTunes/YouTube and I highly recommend it!

Using Uber is my guilty pleasure.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss is SO good. I love all of his books but this might be my favorite. It’s not just about food – it’s more about accelerated learning in every aspect, using cooking as the vehicle. Plus he teaches you to catch pigeons and cook squirrels, if you’re into that kind of thing.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Musicians and their music have shaped my thinking and my life. Probably the most influential album in my life so far has been Kanye West – The College Dropout. It taught me to really believe in myself and that if you want something, you should go after it!