It began as a Young Scientist project that grabbed the attention of the public – now Restored Hearing is continuing to develop solutions to alleviate problems like tinnitus or chronic ringing in the ears. Co-founder Rhona Togher says the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) programme provided the company with business skills and a support network.
Restored Hearing is on a mission to rid the world of avoidable noise damage.
We have created tunable acoustic materials for noise absorption and a sound therapy to alleviate tinnitus.
Sound Bounce is a smart material which responds proportionally to the noise environment. It has applications across the hearing protection, construction, automotive, and aerospace sectors.
Sound Relief tinnitus sound therapy is an online treatment for chronic ringing in the ears. Used daily, it has been clinically proven to give a reduction in tinnitus within one month.
All of our solutions are created using our background in physics and understanding the impact of harmful noise as a global health issue – this has resulted in a suite of ground-breaking technologies.
Young Scientist beginnings
For a long time we had been interested in, and working on, the physics of sound and how that relates to real world applications. It was through our own experiences of having tinnitus that we began to investigate the problem of chronic ringing in the ears further.
We developed Sound Relief as part of a Young Scientist project and were bowled over by the response from the public when we exhibited in the RDS. At that point we knew we wanted to take the research further, and make the sound therapy available if we could, but there was a total lack of funding available to us as researchers not yet in university.
Through conversations with our Local Enterprise Office in Sligo we learned about the funding and business supports available and so a few months after showcasing our project we founded Restored Hearing.
Our first year of business was a heady mix of tight budgets, web development, and experimenting to find the marketing methods to best reach our customers. We experienced a wide range of things for the first time, as we had no prior experience in business.
Looking back, our ignorance was useful as we set ourselves no boundaries. This was especially helpful because as two young women starting a business, there were many people ready to put limits on us. One particular ‘mentor’ suggested it was impossible to get our site set up and taking orders, with the necessary insurance etc. in place within 6 weeks. We did it anyway.
We’ve since brought more experience on to our team, and have learned many lessons of our own too, but we try to keep that resilient optimism that’s been with us since founding.
A support network
For us, the CSF was the next logical step. We had taken some angel investment to secure our Intellectual Property (IP) and we needed to validate the technology beyond our own labs.
The CSF was also an opportunity to become more involved in the business community, which has benefited us both in terms of learning how to build and scale a business, as well as providing a support network.
Developing business skills
The CSF enabled us to commission third party testing of the Sound Bounce technology. This has proved a key step in ultimately signing large partnership deals years later.
As part of these tests we also developed more advanced prototypes, allowing us to demonstrate multiple manufacturing techniques for a product that has applications across industries.
The CSF also gave us a host of more formal business skills that we lacked before going through the programme.
Applying for the CSF
Don’t hesitate to get your application in, think carefully about why your product is different, and best of luck!
Looking to the future
We have spent the last year refining our technology and building a robust pipeline of customers for the next 18 months. We have caught the attention of the largest companies in the world in the chemical, automotive, aerospace, construction, and other sectors who are all eager to integrate our acoustic material into their product lines.
We are now raising funds to bring these commercial contracts forward and get our acoustic material specified into products.
Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs? Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here.