Headphones from Quebec to forget about AirPods

There is a link between the Bluetooth computer protocol, milkweed and recycled wood. It takes the form of three young entrepreneurs from Quebec who have just marketed with surprising success small wireless headphones called Sounds Good and who stand out in a market dominated by Apple AirPods.

The trick to the Sounds Good earphones is that they sell for $ 99.99, less than half that of AirPods. At this price, Quebec headphones are playing elbow with very inexpensive products sold online by little-known foreign merchants or by brands of very mainstream electronic products. To distinguish itself, Sounds Good has taken the gamble of offering human and personalized customer service (and in French) and honoring a 15-day satisfaction guarantee and a one-year manufacturing warranty.

On sale in October 2019, first in a kiosk in the Jean-Talon market in Quebec City, then directly on the Internet, the Sounds Good headphones are selling at a good rate. The three partners in the adventure, Gabriel Gouveia-Fortin, Phil Langlois and Yan Poirier, say they exceeded $ 1 million in total sales earlier this year. Not bad, for a project in which they initially invested only $ 500 each!

The popularity of Sounds Good can be explained simply: the craze for small Bluetooth headphones is global. This market has grown by more than 20% every three months for at least two years. According to the specialized firm Canalys, 58.3 million copies were sold worldwide in the second quarter of 2021. Apple AirPods occupy 25% of this market, which still leaves enough room for them. newcomers.

“There is really a huge demand on the Internet for Bluetooth headphones of this type,” says Gabriel Gouveia-Fortin. “There’s a lot of airdropping online of lower quality products, headphones under $ 100 that break quickly. We saw an opportunity in the niche to offer a better product. We have an agent in China to ensure the quality of workmanship, which allows us to batch buy and then sell unique headphones. “

Parachuting, or dropshipping in English, is a plague on social networks. Small, ephemeral businesses there sell stocks of products of uncertain quality at a liquidation price and then disappear without leaving a trace. Buyers no longer have any recourse if the delivered product does not meet expectations, which is very often the case.

The experience acquired in person at the Jean-Talon Market allowed the three young alumni of the Startup Fuze program at Laval University to fully understand the importance of good customer service, even on the Internet. “We really do anti-dropshipping ! » claim M. Gouveia-Fortin.

Recycled wood and milkweed

The success of Sounds Good slightly exceeded the expectations of its young creators, all three of whom turned this weekend project into a full-time job. The money thus obtained goes towards the completion of two other products that they are developing in parallel: winter clothing made from milkweed and an eco-responsible belt made from recycled wood. The latter, which will probably be marketed by the end of 2022, is produced mainly from recycled industrial waste, in particular rejects from a manufacturer of kitchen furniture.

“We’ve been thinking about it for five years,” says Yan Poirier. The project, named Aubier, hopes to build on the popularity of local purchasing and the circular economy to carve out a place for itself in Quebec fashion… on condition that it eventually materializes. There are many pitfalls. At the very least, it should be ensured that the wood transformed into a belt can be flexible, durable and resistant at the same time. “It wears out quickly, a belt”, observe with one voice the three speakers.

The milkweed, for its part, is nicknamed “the silk of America” ​​by its followers. The plant, which grows very easily naturally in the Quebec climate, appeals to monarchs, the famous migrating butterflies, as well as to clothing producers who want to make their products a little more ecological. In recent years, we have produced an almost ideal textile: it is both light and insulating, in addition to being waterproof. Everything you need to serve as a lining in winter clothes. This explains the appearance, alongside Aubier and Sounds Good, of the Lasclay brand. Under this brand, the three Quebecers sell mittens and a scarf. A cooler should be added to the catalog soon.

“There are a lot of things you can make from milkweed,” says Phil Langlois. “As a garment, it can protect us from the cold. It can keep freshness if it is made into a bag. And we are already seeing good demand for our mittens: we thought we would produce a hundred of them this fall and we finally produced a thousand. “

The production of Lasclay mittens will be doubled in 2022, he adds. And it will be funded from sales of Sounds Good headphones. If all goes well, the three-headed company hopes to centralize its production in Quebec in the coming months. Since she is already earning income, she can more easily plan for future growth.

It doesn’t matter where she is. As for the Bluetooth speakers, perhaps? It’s in the plans. “It’s good to have diversified. If one product does less well, we can bet on the others, ”concludes Gabriel Gouveia-Fortin.

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