On Tuesday 18 May, the ASX will welcome the IPO of hearing technology company, Audeara (ASX:AUA).

The company, which makes headphones designed to help people with hearing loss, has raised $7 million in its IPO.


What’s the difference between Audeara and Nuheara?

For ASX investors, Audeara may sound eerily similar to Nuheara (ASX:NUH) which also makes headphones and is still on an extremely long and turbulent journey to market since its IPO way back in 2010.

Speaking with Stockhead, Audeara’s co-founder Dr James Fielding says while both companies make headphones, the similarities end there.

“Essentially the fundamental is Nuheara is focused on the outside world whereas we focus on enhancing your entertainment experience – TV, movies, phone calls, video chat, listening to music, all those really great things – and that’s where we shine and differentiate,” he said.

“We partner with the clinics whereas a few of the clinics get scared of technology like Nuheara’s as it can be seen as cutting into their market share by offering a cheaper alternative to a more traditional hearing aid.

“We sit alongside and are complementary to people who already have hearing aids, so it’s a different business model based on what we’re offering to people.”

The company began in 2015 after Dr Fielding and his co-founders saw how difficult and long it was to get a hearing test.

While the company says it has been set out to address the problem ever since, it no longer wishes to be in the “medical device” basket of companies.

“It’s a different business,” he said. “We set out to start addressing it, the product is not a medical device.

“Just seing that people were having to jump through many hoops and wait too long to get their hearing tested; we set out to address that.

“The product we have now is not a medical device, we pivoted from a medical play to a entertainment device and we continue to work on that technology.”


Why is Audeara undertaking an IPO?

Dr Fielding said the time was right to raise the profile of Audeara and enter the next phase of growth which the IPO proceeds would help with.

“We’ve done the work in shoring up and getting ready to go and we feel really strong in our position as a company now, especially heading into the space we’re heading into. The ASX seems like a logical transition for us to prepare for that growth phase,” he said.

The company has a strong foothold in Australia being registered for the NDIS and possessing almost half of Australia’s 1500 audiology clinics as distributors.

Audeara also aspires to enter the USA after its IPO.

While America possesses fewer government incentives than in Australia (such as the NDIS), Dr Fielding says the clinic numbers and population more than make up for that.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for us,” he said.


COVID-19 impact

No recap of a company seeking to IPO during COVID-19 would be complete without asking how the pandemic impacted them. Stockhead put the question to Audeara’s boss.

Dr Fielding says COVID-19 was a positive as it left clinics with little choice but to turn to them.

“We actually tripled our clinic numbers during June 2020 – which was very exciting,” he said.

“We saw clinics who remained open as essential health services but were having issues with people not willing to leave their homes they started looking for revenue streams alongside traditional hearing aid only approaches, it was a great opportunity to set the foundation for us.”