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HearX Group expands to US, Africa after funding deals

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Digital hearing health solutions firm hearX Group (hearX) has completed a multimillion-dollar funding round led by US-based venture capital group Bose Ventures, which invested $3 million (R43.4 million).

HAVAÍC, which supports early-stage, high-growth African businesses, led the local funding round, injecting $1.3 million (R18.8 million) into the company, with co-investments from two other prominent institutional investors, Futuregrowth Asset Management ($3 million) and investment holding company Sphere Holdings, which contributed $1 million (R14.5 million).

HearX Group develops and supplies affordable m-health and Web-based hearing health solutions that provide access to hearing care using smart digital technologies.

The group was founded in SA in 2015 by professor De Wet Swanepoel and co-founder Dr Herman Myburgh.

According to hearX, more than 466 million people worldwide suffer from disabling hearing loss, and access to hearing care is severely limited, especially in developing countries. Hearing test equipment is prohibitively expensive and hearing aids unaffordable to most.

As such, this latest round of funding will help support the hearX suite of technologies to lead the way towards its vision of providing healthy hearing for everyone, everywhere, says the company.

To expand its reach, it is also offering solutions to the consumer market segment, and through the funding, it will be able to widely scale up across Kenya and other African countries, where 97% of people requiring hearing aids can’t access them.

In addition, the firm says the funding round has boosted the launch of its direct-to-consumer hearing aid solution in the US, called Lexie Hearing. Lexie uses smart technology to offer a US-developed hearing aid solution from as little as $39 over 24 months.

Lexie Hearing has collaborated with Walgreens, the second-largest pharmacy store chain in the US, to sell the Lexie Lumen hearing aids online across 38 US states.

Consumers can purchase quality hearing aids online, programme them from the comfort of their homes, and have access to hearing experts on-demand.

Amrish Narrandes, head of Unlisted Equity Transactions at Futuregrowth, states: “We remain committed to our stance of backing entrepreneurs that are creating proudly South African products, services and IPs, and taking it to the rest of the world, thus raising the South African flag high. What we particularly liked about hearX is that it is disrupting the traditional hearing healthcare industry by democratising and decentralising access to hearing care.”

HearX initially focused on clinical digital audiometers, and later branched out into lead generation tools for audiologists and retailers. In the last four years, it has grown into a scale-up with global impact across 68 countries, touching over one-and-a-half million lives.

Bose Ventures invests in, and collaborates with, start-ups focused on technologies to help people live and feel better. Recognising the value hearX and its suite of smart hearing technologies can bring to the world was a critical factor in Bose Ventures’ commitment to invest in hearX, it says.

HearX Group CEO Nic Klopper says: “Support from Bose Ventures will enable hearX to more aggressively tackle hearing loss and advance hearing care solutions. Our team has worked tirelessly to touch over 1.5 million lives globally, so an investment of this magnitude in hearX is tremendously rewarding and motivating for us all.”

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