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LOCAL ERIE BUSINESS HOSTS DIGITAL APPRENTICE DAY

Erie, Pa. – AcousticSheep LLC, an Erie-based business, hosted a Digital Apprentice Day with staff from Sen. Pat Toomey’s and Rep. Mike Kelly’s offices. Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, the AcousticSheep CEO and inventor of SleepPhones, the world’s first sleep headphones, spent time with Congressional staffers at her office where she provided a tour of AcousticSheep and explained how the use of digital tools has impacted and helped her business.

“Like many other digitally-enabled small businesses, we use numerous tools to develop, market, and ship our products,” said SleepPhones CEO Wei-Shin Lai. “SleepPhones is able to be the category leader because we are able to connect and sell to people worldwide using Google Analytics, Shopify, ShippingEasy, Quickbooks, and many other technologies. I think our lawmakers were surprised to learn the specifics around Amazon warehousing, credit card chargebacks, and the importance of clear cyber policies.”

Founded in 2007 by Dr. Lai and her husband, Jason Wolfe, AcousticSheep’s first steps into digital technology laid the foundation for its future success. Initially, the company created a website to bring their invention to market and used Google Ads to promote the site. With that investment, many sleep-deprived consumers found AcousticSheep’s site and in 2012 the company hit the $1 million revenue mark. Seven years later, the Erie company has customers around the world and boasts 16 full-time employees along with six interns. 

According to a recent study published by Deloitte, 90 percent of all small businesses believe that digital tools have fostered innovation in their business, particularly in entering new markets and communicating with customers. The study also found that 85 percent of digitalized small businesses have enhanced their business performance and are five times more likely to reach new international customers.

Dr. Lai and Wolfe hope their company — and its use of technology to excel — will bring “West Coast thinking” to their Rust Belt home. “As the world keeps moving, we need to make sure our workforce is familiar with digital,” Dr. Lai said. “Maybe because we’re in a city that’s not at the early adoption of tech, it’s important for these tools to be easy to use.”

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