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July 19, 2019 Office of Communications

Pennsylvania Company Relies on EXIM to Extend Credit to Their Foreign Buyers

When Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, a family physician, found herself struggling to fall asleep after being awakened by patient telephone calls, she would listen to meditative music to help get back to sleep. However, she found most headphones to be bulky or uncomfortable, so Dr. Lai decided to invent the product she needed by embedding thin headphones into soft fabric, similar to a headband, which would be more comfortable than conventional headphones and help provide a more restful night.

Dr. Lai and her husband, Jason Wolfe, a video game manufacturer, founded AcousticSheep LLC in 2007. The entrepreneurial couple created AcousticSheep from scratch—literally using a sewing kit to make the first 500 sets of headphones in their home.

The small business company, now in Erie, Pennsylvania, grew from a kitchen-table operation into an award-winning company with 27 employees whose jobs are supported by exports insured by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM).

“EXIM has helped increase our confidence in working with distributors in countries we may not have previously considered. We plan on using the agency indefinitely.”   ­Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, CEO

The EXIM Solution

After expanding overseas, AcousticSheep experienced difficulty trying to collect from some international distributors and quickly needed a solution. Fortunately, the company discovered EXIM from a contact at its local small business development center and regional export network.

EXIM provides U.S. exporters with export credit insurance to protect against nonpayment from foreign buyers, extend competitive credit terms, and support working capital needs. AcousticSheep began using EXIM’s insurance in 2017 to cover its foreign accounts receivable, which restored the company’s confidence in exporting. EXIM broker Meridian Finance Group helps manage their policy at no extra cost.

Impressive Results

As a result, AcousticSheep has expanded into new markets and increased its export sales with EXIM’s support. With its international sales growing at about 15 percent per year, exports now comprise a quarter of the company’s total revenue. AcousticSheep is successfully selling its products around the world to Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Benefits of EXIM’s Export Credit Insurance

EXIM’s export credit insurance provides payment coverage for both commercial and political risks of up to 95 percent of the sales invoice. U.S. businesses can count on EXIM to protect their export sales to a single buyer or their entire foreign portfolio.

As illustrated in AcousticSheep’s success, EXIM’s export credit insurance also empowers U.S. companies to offer competitive open account credit terms to their buyers instead of requiring them to pay cash in advance or secure letters of credit. Many international buyers expect terms and do not want to harm their cash flow with pre-payment. With EXIM’s support, U.S. companies can win sales based on the quality of their product and not lose out to competitors that offer open account purchases.

Another benefit of EXIM’s export credit insurance is that EXIM-insured foreign accounts receivable can be assigned to a lender to increase a company’s borrowing capacity. These benefits can be obtained for as little as 55 cents to cover every $100 of the sales invoice.

Learn More

Your company too can enter new markets with confidence and increase your international sales. EXIM helps U.S. companies of all sizes to export, and no transaction is too small or large. The agency has trade finance experts in regional offices throughout the country who can answer questions and provide information about EXIM’s products and services and can guide you through the application process. Contact or call 202.565.3901 to learn more.

EXIM’s Blog postings are intended to highlight various facets of exporting, but the postings are not legal advice, and are not intended to summarize all legal requirements associated with exporting.