Tuned Secures $3.5M To Grow Hearing Care Platform for Employers

About 15% of American adults have hearing troubles, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Yet, hearing care is often not covered by insurance.

Digital hearing health company Tuned is trying to change that. The New York City-based startup sells to employers and third party administrators and offers hearing screenings, consultations with audiologists and hearing products on its website. Tuned plans to grow its reach after securing $3.5 million in seed funding, it announced last week.

The funding round was led by Distributed Ventures and included participation from Idealab NY and Elements Health Ventures. Part of what drew Distributed Ventures to Tuned is the fact that it’s focused on hearing care rather than product sales, said Shawn Ellis, managing partner of the investor.

“That stands in contrast to most of the other models we’ve seen in the space that are really geared to ultimately trying to sell more sensitive, high-margin critical hearing aids,” he said in an interview. While Ellis didn’t name any specific companies, others in the hearing space include Eargo and Jabra Enhance.

Tuned plans to use the funding to contract with more employers and third party administrators, said Danny Aronson, co-founder and CEO of the startup. It also plans to grow its team.

“All the backend is built out, we now have funding,” Aronson said in an interview. “We’re really looking to build out the sales team, get some more key people helping us out … and just really demonstrating both for ourselves and the investors that there’s a real market for what we’re doing here.”

Users of Tuned’s platform typically start with a screening, which consists of a questionnaire and two clinically-validated hearing tests. The questionnaire asks users what issues they’re experiencing and what their goals are. Then the first test requires the user to listen to a series of numbers with background noises and type the numbers. The second test gives a set of five different tones and asks users to mark the lowest volume they can hear the tone for their left and right ear.

After the screening, participants have a virtual consultation with one of Tuned’s 200 audiologists. The audiologists go over options to improve hearing, which could be referring them to a clinic or recommending certain hearing products.

The funding news follows a recent partnership Tuned launched with Soundly, an online marketplace that allows consumers to compare and purchase hearing products. Through the partnership, Soundly is selling over-the-counter hearing aids (which were recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration). Each product on the site includes a video from a Tuned audiologist explaining the device, and consumers also have the option to book a consultation with an audiologist.

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