We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Ellis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
We started AudioCardio with the mission to develop and provide an easily accessible and affordable hearing solution without the negative social stigma of the devices currently on the market. During the summer of 2015, I took my grandfather on a trip to Montana. I knew this would be one of the last trips where he would be physically able to walk, fish and get around on his own. We spent 5 full days and nights together during this trip and my grandfather couldn’t hide or “laugh off” his declining mental condition. In previous interactions, he would play off his lapse in memory by laughing and saying, “oh yeah, that’s right, I remember.” Our trip to Montana made me realize that my grandfather’s signs of aging and memory loss were much worse than we had previously thought. My grandfather’s condition was much more than simple forgetfulness. He was showing serious signs of cognitive decline and it was clearly accelerating. This was a truly devastating realization for me and my family.
After returning home, I went online to educate myself on cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s. During this self education, I came across a Johns Hopkins study that showed an association between untreated hearing loss and isolation, depression, cognitive decline and dementia. The study showed that individuals with untreated hearing loss are up to five times more likely to have dementia. My grandfather suffered from severe hearing loss and attributed it to his service as a hydraulics engineer and specialist in the Air Force. I remembered how in previous years, my grandfather slowly began disengaging as he got older and as his hearing worsened. My grandfather became frustrated, then isolated, then depressed before having dementia. Although my grandfather knew he had hearing loss and tinnitus, he refused to purchase hearing aids. The lack of access and convenience to visit a specialist, expense of each hearing aid and negative social stigma all contributed to his distaste for the options on the market. This is a common theme amongst most individuals we work with. It’s also why about 80% of the people who could benefit from a hearing aid, don’t actually own one.
We created AudioCardio to provide an easily accessible and affordable hearing solution without the negative social stigma. That’s why we built our technology into a mobile app that’s delivered through consumer headphones or earbuds.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
AudioCardio’s mission is to provide a hearing loss and tinnitus solution to people who currently don’t have viable options for reasons ranging from financial issues to negative social stigmas. We purposely developed a solution that is easy to access, affordable and removes the negative social stigma associated with hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) solutions on the market.
This approach was not easy for us. As with most novel solutions, we had to build a solution before anyone would believe that we could do something that was once thought impossible. People have been taught a certain idea and it’s hard to break that unless they see or in this case, hear it for themselves. Can AudioCardio really help people restore their hearing ability? This was the question we got the most… Especially in the very early days. We conducted multiple studies with institutions like Stanford University and Samsung Medical Center showing the efficacy of our solution, but we knew we still had a long way to go… It takes a long time to build up a brand, get support and get testimonials from our customers with hearing loss and tinnitus. Another problem we faced was adherence to the program. This is an issue that most products and apps face because today’s consumer wants instant gratification. We want a solution that gives us results instantly. AudioCardio is a program that helps over time. It’s like working out or dieting. You can’t do it for a day or even a week and expect significant and lasting results. We’ve continued to overcome these obstacles by constantly improving our messaging, talking to our customers and are making incremental improvements to our solution along the way. We have made strides to better educate our customers, drive awareness around hearing health, our technology and build a better user experience so that more people can attempt to work on their hearing loss and tinnitus issues.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Los Angeles area has so much to offer. Hiking Runyon and the trails in Malibu are great options for day time activities, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, we have the famed beaches and restaurants that run along the coast. Nobu Malibu has a great view, better food and can accommodate outdoor seating. Big Dean’s is also great if you are looking for a casual outdoor bar where you can watch your favorite teams. Shows at the Rose Bowl, movies at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and the Twilight Concert Series in Santa Monica are always fun options in the summer. There’s always something fun and exciting in LA. I’m looking forward to the days we can enjoy all that LA has to offer again.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We’ve had great supporters throughout the growth of our company and product. Specifically, the Grid110 team and program has helped us connect with organizations, investors and individuals who support us in our mission. Grid110 is an incredible resource for our organization, the LA startup community, and we continue to work with them post commencement of their accelerator program.