Exclusive: Yes Hearing catches $10M Series A
Hybrid hearing care startup Yes Hearing raised a $10 million Series A, CEO Sam Shear tells Axios exclusively.
Why it matters: An estimated 1 in 5 people in the U.S. over age 12 has hearing loss in one or both ears, per a study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, and while the prevalence of the condition increases with age, Medicare doesn't cover hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids.
- "This is a huge market," Primetime Partners chair and Yes Hearing investor Alan Patricof tells Axios. "There's room for multiple players here."
Deal details: Blue Heron Capital led the round, joined by Primetime Partners, Ensemble Innovation Ventures, Maccabee Ventures and Gaingels.
- Yes will use the funds to hone its tech platform and explore the development of B2B partnerships with hospital groups and senior living facilities as well as with elder care startups such as Honor and Papa, says Shear.
- As part of the deal, the company is naming Blue Heron adviser and ShiftMed CEO Todd Walrath to its board of directors.
State of play: A recent FDA decision to move hearing aids over the counter (OTC) is pushing startups and large tech companies toward the hearing health market, which is expected to generate roughly $12 billion in sales by 2031, per a recent Kenneth Research report. For example:
- Employer-facing hearing support startup Tuned in September debuted with $2.5 million in seed funding.
- Apple last year began studying AirPods' potential as hearing aids and more recently made them usable as such.
- Sony in September teamed up with WS Audiology Denmark to develop new Sony-brand OTC hearing health products, citing the FDA ruling in an announcement as crucial to the agreement.
Yes, but: For now, Yes only operates in the prescription hearing aid market.
- However, Shear tells Axios, "As we look at the OTC hearing market we may start to add those in."
How it works: New York City-based Yes offers consultations, prescription hearing aids and ongoing care via a combination of telehealth and home visits.
- Yes specialists hand-deliver, test and program the hearing aids customers buy.
- The company operates in all 50 states and contracts with a network of 500+ mobile audiologists and hearing care specialists.
What's next: Shear says Yes will raise its Series B in the first half of 2024 while it mulls potential avenues of expansion, such as other age-related health conditions.
- "We’re more of a healthy aging company than a hearing company and we're definitely interested in expanding beyond hearing, though that's our current focus," he says.
- Patricof agrees, saying Yes is "in the home and in a relationship with the consumer, and there are other opportunities that will come with this."
Yes, but: One hurdle Yes will face as it works to scale is hiring medical professionals amid widespread health worker shortages.
- "At a time when there are shortages of people with health-care experience, this will be a challenge," says Patricof.