Eargo, maker of direct-to-consumer tech enabled hearing devices, scored a whopping $71 million in Series funding. Gilde Healthcare and Longitude Capital led the round with participation from New Enterprise Associates, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation and Nan Fung Life Sciences.
As part of the news, the company announced that Gilde Healthcare’s Geoff Pardo and Longitude Capital’s Juliet Tammenoms Bakker will join its board of directors.
WHAT IT DOES
The startup has developed rechargeable hearing devices that can be purchased directly by the consumer. Users are able to adjust hearing aid settings through a corresponding app. For example, a user can have a setting preference for when they are in a meeting, restaurant or theater. The app also lets users adjust the bass and treble to a user’s preference.
The company also has an online hearing screening tool and telemedicine consultations and support. Eargo pitches its tech as different from others in the space because of the price point and the ability to involve the end user.
“[Baby Boomers] are the largest consumer of healthcare services, and they are very avid consumers of healthcare information, and seek out information themselves,” Daniel Shen, founder of Eargo, said at the Connected Health Conference last fall in Boston. “They approach the healthcare providers with greater initiative than older generations. What that means is from a medical device or solution standpoint, they are a very important generation, and they may be able to seek out their own sources of information, and not just from their doctors.”
WHAT IT’S FOR
The new funds will go towards expanding the commercialization of the product.
“We are pleased to close on this financing round, which provides us with significant capital to fund our growth,” Christian Gormsen, president and CEO, said in a statement. “While our business was performing well before COVID-19, the pandemic accelerated consumer demand for our hearing-loss solution. More consumers who are reluctant to purchase their hearing aids through the traditional brick-and-mortar clinics have recognized the benefits of our solution.”
The U.S. is rapidly aging. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there will be more older adults in the country than there are children by the year 2034. Age-related hearing loss has become a hot topic in the medical community. According to the Mayo Clinic, about one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 experience some hearing loss.
“If there is one place we can start in COVID, and especially during social distancing, where we are relying on technology, would be addressing the hearing impaired. Right now, about two-thirds of people 70 and older have clinically significant hearing loss, and only about 20%-30% ever get hearing aids,” Charlotte Yeh, chief medical officer at AARP, said during a HIMSS20 panel discussion.
Big tech has also devoted attention to the space. Apple added new features to its iPhone last year that help alert a user if environmental noise or phone audio could impact long-term hearing health. Apple also has a function where hearing aids can work with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Users can pair the device to their hearing aids and be controlled through the device.