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Gujarat Startup Develops Non-Surgical Hearing Aid Device For Disabled

Kanishka Patel and Raj Shah founded WeHear in 2017, specializing in manufacturing and selling affordable bone conduction technology hearing aid products.

By Bilal Khan
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WeHear Founders

WeHear Founders

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The Birth of a Life-Changing Discovery:

In 2017, Kanishka Patel was immersed in a robotics project leveraging military communication technology. During this intense experimentation period, Kanishka and his team stumbled upon an innovation that would alter the course of his life.

They developed a prototype that enabled a child with hearing loss to experience sound for the first time. The child's joyous reaction sparked a profound change in Kanishka.

Driven by this newfound purpose, he launched Gujarat-based hearing aid startup WeHear in 2017. The startup is dedicated to transforming the hearing aid industry in India.

Hearing loss is among the most prevalent sensory impairments affecting people today. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 63 million individuals in India experience substantial auditory impairment.

Recognizing the need for a strong business acumen to complement his technical skills, Kanishka joined hands with Raj Shah, an experienced entrepreneur with a shared vision. Together, they embarked on a mission to revolutionize hearing aids.

What is WeHear?

 WeHear is an innovative startup that develops advanced hearing solutions using cutting-edge technology. The Gujarat-based hearing aid startup aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with hearing impairments by providing affordable and high-quality hearing aids and related products.

WeHear offers a range of innovative products designed to cater to different hearing needs and lifestyle preferences. Here are the details of their products and their pricing:

1. Hearnu (Hearing Aid) 

WeHear, a leading innovator in hearing solutions, has introduced HearNU, the world's first digitally programmable, non-surgical solution for conductive hearing loss. This patented device leverages bone conduction technology, transmitting sound vibrations directly to the cochlea and bypassing the outer and middle ear. 

 Features:

- Programmable hearing device

- Qualcomm noise cancellation technology

- Lightweight, dust and sweat resistant

- Rechargeable battery

 Price: Rs. 80,000

 2. BTE OPTIMA

Digitally Programmable Hearing Aid is useful for individuals with mild to severe SN hearing loss up to 80 dB.

 Features:

  • 8 Channels Programmable

  • Listening Modes

  • Next–Generation Processor

  • Rechargeable

  • Programming Software

  • Futuristic Design

 Price: Rs. 20,000 (Single) & Rs. 35,000 (Kit) 

3. BTE PRIME.

Digital Programmable Hearing Aid with Bluetooth Connectivity. Useful for individuals with mild to profound SN Hearing loss up to 125 dB.

 Features:

  • 32 Channels Programmable

  • Rechargeable Battery

  • Wireless Connectivity

  • Next-Generation Processor

  • Mobile App Customization

  • Futuristic Design

 Price: Rs. 50,000 (Single) & Rs. 80,000 (Kit)

4. Tinni X

Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing sound, but some people hear other types of sounds, such as roaring or buzzing.

Features:

- Open Ear Bone Conduction Therapy and Relief Tool

- Audio Notching technology

- Ergonomic Design 

- Rechargeable battery

 Price: Rs. 35,000 

5. WeHear OX (Open Ear Headphones)

The WeHear OX is an open-ear headphone that uses bone conduction technology. This allows users to listen to music or take calls while still being aware of their surroundings, making it ideal for outdoor activities like running and cycling.

 Features:

- Bone conduction technology

- Wireless connectivity

- Sweat and water-resistant

- Lightweight and comfortable design

 Price: Rs. 9,999

Upcoming Products:

WeHear also plans to launch three more products in the next six months, including a unique spectacle hearing aid. Details and pricing for these upcoming products have yet to be disclosed.

Tackling High Costs and Social Stigma:

WeHear's primary goal is to address two significant challenges in the hearing aid market: exorbitant costs and the stigma associated with wearing hearing aids.

Traditional hearing aids usually cost up to Rs. 2-3 lakhs, and most are imported from Europe and America, further driving up prices. WeHear aims to make high-quality hearing solutions affordable and accessible within India.

 HearNU, their flagship product, provides a non-surgical alternative to Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) surgery, usually costing around Rs. 18-20 lakhs. 

"HearNU is a game-changer because it allows people to hear without surgery," Kanishka explained while talking to Startup Pedia.

 

This innovative hearing aid product directly connects to the temporal bone and transmits vibrations to the brain, bypassing the need for traditional hearing aids or costly surgeries.

"By designing products that blend into everyday life, we hope to eliminate the societal stigma associated with wearing hearing aids," Kanishka added during the conversation with Startup Pedia.

Expanding Accessibility:

The co-founders of WeHear knew that affordability was only one part of the equation. To truly make an impact, they needed to ensure their products reached those in need.

By partnering with government bodies, NGOs, and corporations like Godrej, ONGC, Prudent, SSA and more organizations the Gujarat-based hearing aid startup provided hearing aids to 1,500 children with hearing impairments. These partnerships, facilitated through CSR projects, significantly improved the lives of these children, enhancing their hearing, speaking, and academic performance.

The hearing aid startup's innovative approach to remote audiology, in partnership with a US-based company, enabled them to conduct hearing tests remotely, expanding accessibility to tier 2 cities and rural areas.  

Innovation in Products and Pricing:

WeHear's commitment to affordability without compromising quality was evident in their product lineup. The HearNu is priced at Rs. 80,000, significantly lower than traditional options and BAHA surgery. For NGOs and CSR initiatives, they offer the device at a reduced price of Rs. 20,000.

Their entry-level product, BTE Optima, is available for Rs. 35,000, compared to similar products from other brands costing Rs. 1-1.5 lakhs.

Additionally, the hearing aid brand has developed an innovative headphone called Smart Headphone, which promises new levels of discretion and usability. This headphone can translate languages in real-time, facilitating communication across diverse language backgrounds.

Their hearing aid products underwent rigorous clinical testing and received approval from reputable medical institutions, including the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing in Mysore and the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities in Mumbai.

Growing Market Reach:

Starting with a modest team of six interns, WeHear grew to over 50+ employees, establishing a robust distribution network across 19 Indian cities, including Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Delhi. They also expanded to 12 countries, including the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Australia, and the USA. Over 12,500 beneficiaries are using the brand's hearing aids, and 7,000-8,000 customers are using their Smart Headphones.  

"Our growth is a testament to our team's hard work and dedication," Kanishka reflected in the conversation with Startup Pedia.

Financial Growth and Future Vision:

The hearing aid startup has shown remarkable revenue growth in recent fiscal years. It started at Rs. 80 lakhs in FY22, soared to Rs. 3 crore in FY23, and has already reached Rs. 6 crore in FY24. Their sales ratio between the Indian and international markets is 70:30, where 70% is from India.

Their appearance on Shark Tank India season 3 provided significant exposure and validation, leading to increased sales and recognition.

"The exposure and validation we received from Shark Tank helped us to achieve new heights," Kanishka admitted during the conversation with Startup Pedia.

 The hearing aid startup raised funding from one of the judges of Shark Tank India, Peyush Bansal, founder of Lenskart. It was Rs. 2.5 Crores for 1% equity + 1.5% advisory equity at Rs. 250 crores valuation.

Aiming for Global Leadership:

WeHear's journey from serendipitous discovery to becoming a leading audio technology brand is a testament to the power of innovation, determination, and a desire to make a positive societal impact. By overcoming the challenges of the hearing aid industry, WeHear is changing lives and setting new standards for the industry.

With a clear vision for the future and a commitment to making a difference, WeHear aspires to become a global leader in the hearing solutions industry.

"Our mission is to improve the lives of millions of people with hearing issues, whether partial or complete," Kanishka concluded the Startup Pedia interview with this. 

FAQ

What is WeHear?
Founded in 2017, WeHear is a Gujarat-based innovative startup dedicated to revolutionizing the hearing aid industry in India. It focuses on developing advanced hearing solutions using cutting-edge bone conduction technology to enhance the quality of life for individuals with hearing impairments.
Who are the founders of WeHear?
The founders of WeHear are Kanishka Patel and Raj Shah.
What is HearNu, and how does it work?
WeHear, a leading innovator in hearing solutions, has introduced HearNU, the world's first digitally programmable, non-surgical solution for conductive hearing loss. This patented device leverages bone conduction technology, transmitting sound vibrations directly to the cochlea and bypassing the outer and middle ear. It offers a cost-effective and non-invasive solution for hearing impairment.
The mission of WeHear?
WeHear's mission is to enhance the lives of millions of people with hearing issues by providing affordable, high-quality hearing solutions incorporating cutting-edge technology. They aim to eliminate barriers to hearing aid accessibility and reduce the social stigma associated with hearing loss.