Amazon has chosen a Charlotte earbuds startup to propel to $1 million in sales in 6 months

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A Charlotte earbuds startup is about to get a big boost on the Amazon platform.

Zipbuds, which has its office in SouthPark, has been selected to a new Amazon program that aims to boost small businesses to $1 million in sales in six months on their e-commerce platform.

The sweat-proof earphones are one of seven small business products to get the bump from Amazon corporate — and you’ll likely be seeing a lot more of them in the coming weeks.

The Zipbuds main product page

The company originally started with no-tangle wired headphones before pivoting in 2015.

Zipbuds was founded in 2009 in San Diego and developed a zipper-based technology to keep cords from tangling, complete with several patents.

But as it became clear that the market was headed toward wireless headphone technology, CEO Robin DeFay went all in on that direction and moved the company to Charlotte.

Zipbuds brought on a Clemson Ph.D. student who was doing pioneering research in wireless headphone tech, Ryan Heil. Later, the company hired Clemson undergrad Asher Swinney (he’s the nephew of football coach Dabo) to work in marketing.

The new Zipbuds product — called 26 — launched in June and focuses on durability, battery life, sound quality and style. It’s primarily sold on the Amazon platform, with a small percentage sold through its own website.

DeFay told the Agenda he’s excited about being a part of the Amazon program and getting access to resources out of Seattle that will help boost his business.

Photo by Zipbuds via Facebook

Why’s Amazon doing this?

It’s about expanding the reach of their small business service platform. For $40 a month plus fees, Amazon will handle customer service, shipping and fulfillment for a company’s products.

This business added up to some $7 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2017, according to corporate filings. That was a 38 percent jump from the same quarter a year ago.

But it’s still flown under the radar, and this is a smart marketing maneuver to promote the business.

About half of products sold on Amazon are from small businesses, Amazon spokesman Erik Fairleigh said.

Fairleigh said the company will not be juicing search results in favor of the small business products they’re promoting in this “experiment.”

But they will include the product in emails to Amazon customers and help Zipbuds and the other businesses in the program on the back end.

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Andrew Dunn
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