It wasn’t too long ago that we kicked off our mission in earnest to provide a new solution to help empower those with hearing loss. We’re here to make hearing easy; there’s never been more of a need. After all, about 1 out of 6 Americans suffer from some form of hearing loss, and only about 20% actually do anything about it [1]. That’s just staggering and frankly unacceptable. There are simply too many people with hearing loss that are choosing to live with it; they’re choosing to make a sacrifice in their lives, day in, day out. If we strive to accomplish a single thing with our efforts here at Eargo, it is to help change this. For us, the quality of people’s lives is at stake. That’s why we’re singularly focused on making Eargo the hearing health solution that fits your lifestyle – not to mention pocketbook – it’s a win-win for everyone.

So, how are we doing?

It’s been a whirlwind journey so far, marked with some milestones we’re quite proud of. Most meaningful of all are the thousands of people who use our product every day. Popular Science also named Eargo a “Best of What’s New” for health innovation. We were awarded the prestigious Gold Clio for product design. We welcomed a new financial partner in NEA, one of the World’s top Venture Capitalist firms. Finally, we were dubbed “the future of hearing aids” by important media sources like TechCrunch and Gizmodo. To be called the future of anything is something to be grateful for and while we love the accolades, the reality is, we’re just getting started.

Making Eargo available to more Americans (and beyond)

As our friends in New York, Florida, and several other states are keen to remind us, Eargo has not been available everywhere in the US. We’re often asked why this is the case. Hearing aids are FDA regulated medical devices, but every state has their own regulations that govern hearing aid sales. This has ultimately limited Eargo’s availability, despite full compliance with FDA regulations. When we first launched, we were only available in 25 states but have since climbed our way up to 35 states, bringing aboard licensed hearing professionals in every state we operate. We are fully committed to expanding Eargo’s footprint in the near future, with the goal to be available to all nationwide and beyond…

Despite the limited availability, demand for Eargo has been tremendous. Sales of our first generation device exceeded our expectations, with month-over-month growth that quickly made us one of the fastest-growing consumer medical device manufacturers around Silicon Valley. That growth really validated our mission, but it also exposed some challenges – both operationally and with our product – that we needed to resolve in order to take Eargo to the next level.

Important Lessons shaping our approach

1) Delight our customers beyond delivery with amazing care and service

Buying hearing aids is not like buying a set of headphones (ok, make that an expensive set of headphones). Getting your Eargo system delivered to your home is not the end of the process; in many ways, it’s just the beginning. We’ve learned tons about the needs of our customers after they started using Eargo. Our small but dynamic support team were overwhelmed in our initial months with trying to help people adapt to using their Eargos as well as their newfound hearing.

Since then, we’ve been building up a world-class team with real depth of experience in this area; we’ve set up new systems, and trained more licensed dispensers and audiologists to connect with each and every customer to help them adjust to Eargo and getting the most out of their investment.

2) Build a tougher hearing device for all types of ears

The truth is, the ear canal is a pretty hostile environment for hardware of any kind. We’re almost crazy to get into this business (the good kind of crazy, we’d like to think). It’s a forever balmy 96°F to 100°F, humid, and the ear wax our bodies produce coats objects inserted in the ear, which can block components from functioning properly. With an object like an in-the-canal hearing aid, which is intended to spend 10+ hours each day inserted in the ear canal, it’s important that it can withstand long-term exposure. Users also need to be able to care for their devices easily so they’ll last.

With our original Eargo design, we saw that in some cases their performance was being affected by the buildup of wax – particularly in people more predisposed to ear wax – on the speaker, as well as on charging contacts. The result of this, for us, was our team spent more than we would like cleaning or replacing devices with this issue.

So what’s the solution for better wax management and better durability? Well, as luck would have it, it’s been in the works for some time.

What’s next? We’re keeping sight of the PLUS side.

Our intrepid engineering and clinical teams have been hard at work over the past year on our new and improved design, which we’ve named Eargo Plus. What’s new with it? Well if you were intrigued by the original design for Eargo, then you can expect an even better product across the board. Our core promise remains; devices so comfortable that you’re likely to forget you’re wearing them, and so discreet that others are likely to never notice them.

Launching a new consumer medical device is not as simple as designing, building, and then moving to sell the new product as soon as possible. As a medical device company, we have the added responsibility to make sure the product meets our expectations as a solution for mild to moderate hearing loss and that it also shows the improvements we’re seeking for you, the user. And once the devices are in your ears, we further need to make sure we can support you as you adapt to using a new hearing aid. Bottom line: if you’re not thrilled with your Eargo experience then we’re not living up to our promise.

For the past several months, we’ve been conducting user studies on our new design to ensure it meets our high standards. Each and every day, we’ve been fitting participants with Eargo Plus devices, and we’re continuously rechecking performance. Through our study, we’re getting over 1,000 hours of wear in the canal every day. That’s a lot of valuable data for us. We’re committed to running our study for several months before we put our seal of approval on our new product. That’s why it’s taken a bit longer than expected to bring Eargo Plus to market. But here’s the great news: Eargo Plus studies are nearing completion and we’re gearing up to unveil our updated website and make the devices available for order.

And while Eargo Plus marks a very exciting next step for us, it’s not the only improvement. We’ve spent the summer building up our operations to support larger scale production and distribution. We’re more ready than ever to make our dream a reality to change hearing health, every day. And we hope you’ll join us when the next phase of our journey begins.

– Christian

 

Eargo team at work

Eargo Plus Testing - The most important part of testing is listening to our clients. Danny, our Chief Clinical Officer, is a listening ninja.
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Did you order a sample from Eargo recently?

If you requested an Eargo sample from our website or support team at some point during the past few months, we’d like to sincerely thank you for your interest and patience. We don’t take either lightly. We have new & improved sample packages for Eargo Plus. We’ll be contacting each and every person to reconfirm their interest before mailing these out around the time of our launch.

Sources:

[1] Blackwell DL, Lucas JW, Clarke TC. Summary health statistics for U.S. adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2012. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(260). 2014. (PDF)