AudioCardio

Growth Stage

Physical therapy for your hearing

Analytics

Raised to Date: Raised: $177,067

Aggregate Commitments $

Platform

Republic

Start Date

01/29/2021

Close Date

04/30/2021

Min. Goal

$25,000

Max. Goal

$1,070,000

Min. Investment

$100

Security Type

SAFE

Funding Type

RegCF

Series

Seed

Valuation Cap

$9,750,000

Discount Rate

0%

Rolling Commitments $

Status
Funded
Reporting Date

05/02/2021

Days Remaining
Funded
% of Min. Goal

708%

% of Max. Goal

17%

Likelihood of Max
Funded
Avg. Daily Raise

$1,946

Momentum
Funded
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Location

Santa Monica, California

Industry

Consumer Products, Goods & Services

Tech Sector

HealthTech

Distribution Model

B2B2C

Margin

High

Capital Intensity

Low

Business Type

High Growth

AudioCardio, with a valuation cap of $9.75 million, is raising funds on Republic. The company offers personalized sound therapies to maintain and strengthen hearing. The therapy is offered through Threshold Sound Conditioning technology, which is backed by data and science. Chris Ellis founded AudioCardio in 2018. The current crowdfunding round has a minimum goal of $25,000 and a maximum goal of $1,070,000, and the proceeds will be used for platform development, fully-scaled marketing campaign, and developing new partnerships. AudioCardio has already offered over 135,000 sound therapy sessions and more than 62,000 hearing assessments.

Summary Profit and Loss Statement

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Revenue

$2,288

$0

COGS

$0

$0

Tax

$0

$0

 

 

Net Income

$-64,049

$-74,645

Summary Balance Sheet

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Cash

$207,611

$40,316

Accounts Receivable

$0

$0

Total Assets

$278,027

$56,686

Short-Term Debt

$59,416

$26,153

Long-Term Debt

$0

$0

Total Liabilities

$59,416

$26,153

Financials as of: 01/29/2021
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Ratings KingsCrowd Startup Rating Methodology Article

Analyst Report Analyst Report Methodology Article

Synopsis

As humans grow older, general wear and tear starts to break their bodies down. One of the most common effects of aging is hearing loss. It is the third most common physical condition behind arthritis and heart disease. An estimated 38.2 million Americans — 14.3% of the total population — have some form of hearing loss, and those numbers go up significantly in elder populations. Nearly half of individuals over 75 have some form of hearing loss.

Hearing loss has multiple causes. There are often hereditary (genetic) factors. Certain diseases can result in hearing loss, as can some injuries and medications. Another extremely common cause of hearing loss is experiencing loud sounds, as one might encounter at a rock concert or in another loud environment like a war zone or construction site. There’s also evidence to suggest that listening to music at high volumes through headphones can lead to hearing loss, as rates of hearing loss among teenagers have increased 30% over the last twenty years.

In addition to the obvious downsides to being unable to hear well, there are further side effects to the condition that can be devastating to those who suffer from it. These side effects include cognitive decline as the brain, desperate to take in auditory stimulus, directs more resources to amplify the depleted sense. The condition can be compensated for through medical treatments and devices like hearing aids, but surveys show that Americans seem reluctant to engage in such treatment. Of 28.8 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than 16% have used them. The reason for this gap in treatment may be expense, as hearing aids often cost thousands of dollars.

AudioCardio offers “hearing therapy” through a smartphone app. Users download the app and take an assessment to gauge their current level of hearing loss. Once the assessment is complete, the app provides personalized sound therapy for one hour a day, which can be completed while engaging in normal activity or listening to other media. Assessments are repeated weekly, and progress is tracked through the app. Customers pay through a freemium model, with a 14 day free trial and the option to subscribe for $14.99 monthly afterward.

AudioCardio’s current Republic raise has been rated a Neutral Deal by the KingsCrowd investment team.

Price

To scale up product marketing, develop the platform, and engage new partnerships and funding sources, AudioCardio is raising a SAFE at a $9.75 million valuation with no discount rate. The price reflects the platform’s early traction, with 135,000 therapy sessions conducted and sterling reviews from consumers, though revenue numbers are low so far. The valuation is reasonable for a startup at this stage, but the lack of a discount rate is discouraging for investors. As a result, the price score for AudioCardio is middle of the road.

Market

AudioCardio’s target market is of a fair size, though there are significant questions as to its reach potential. The global hearing aids market size was $8.99 billion in 2019, and it is projected to reach $13.38 billion by 2027 at a respectable CAGR of 8.2%; However, only a fraction of those who suffer from hearing loss actually purchase hearing aids. AudioCardio is betting that those consumers could be convinced to spend $99 a year on a therapy program rather than thousands all at once on expensive hearing aids.

The question is just how many consumers will be thus tempted. Many of the individuals with hearing loss that AudioCardio most seeks to aid will already be wearing hearing aids, and those who are doing without hearing aids may be just as avoidant to AudioCardio’s therapy solution. In an attempt to maximize its potential market, AudioCardio has engaged a B2B2C distribution model, partnering with audio media services like Spotify to draw in pre-existing users of these services. Altogether, AudioCadio is targeting a limited niche in markets that’s somewhat on the smaller side. Thus, its market score is its lowest across all five metrics.

Team

AudioCardio’s team is relatively young overall but holds the relevant expertise to inspire confidence. Co-founder and CEO Chris Ellis is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing. After spending several years in sales for network security and cloud hosting companies, Ellis served in advisory roles to companies as he started AudioCardio, including Inmusik, a platform designed to support the music industry.

Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Sam Kwak is a composer and inventor from South Korea. Kwak is a graduate of Seoul National University with an M.A. in Psychoacoustics, and he was a Ph.D. candidate in Cognitive Acoustics at UCLA. Coming off 11 years as an adjunct professor at Seoul National, Kwak has conducted research through educational institutions and his company, Earlogic, and invented the AudioCardio’s so-called “threshold sound conditioning” technology, or TSC. His expertise lies in scientific know-how rather than business mastery.

Bryant Laitipaya serves as AudioCardio’s Director of Operations. After an early start in sales and business development internships, Laitipaya migrated to roles in small companies and startups with social media and entertainment focuses, including PopShorts, which reached the Inc. 5,000 fastest growing companies list two years in a row.

The AudioCardio team brings an excellent combination of business and managerial acumen alongside scientific and technical skills. As a result, the company’s team score is its highest across all five metrics and is very strong.

Differentiators

There is good news for investors when it comes to AudioCardio’s differentiation. The company holds no patents or protections for its TSC concept but also doesn’t appear to need any at the moment. There exists little to no market competition. While there are plenty of ways to treat hearing loss — including through implants and surgery — these are all expensive and invasive, with hearing aids probably being the least of both. AudioCardio is filling a unique niche of a cheap and non-invasive solution to improve hearing loss, and its massive collection of user data and early traction show that it is filling that niche adeptly.

If the company does face competition from similar solutions in the future, those competitors will not need to clear many hurdles, as barriers to entry and capital intensity are quite low for this particular market niche. The potential for future competitors is a risk which investors should take into account. However, given the current state of AudioCardio’s offering and competitive landscape, the differentiators score for the company is high.

Performance

AudioCardio’s early performance is noteworthy, though not outstanding. The startup took in its first $2,288 in revenue in 2019 and claims (unaudited) to have increased that number fifteen times over in 2020 (for around $35,000 in revenue). While these numbers are still quite low, they demonstrate an early pattern of revenue growth that is promising.

On a scientific level, AudioCardio’s technology is undoubtedly effective to some degree, though just how effective is difficult to verify. Its most prominent scientific backing comes from a study conducted through Stanford University and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in which 78% of participants reported significant levels of hearing improvement.

To achieve these early results, AudioCardio has had to endure some cash burn, accumulating $59,416 of short term debt in 2019 from less than half that amount in 2018. Still, the startup is in a decent place considering its stage of development. Thus, its performance score is above average.

Bearish Outlook

While AudioCardio’s lack of market competition is a selling point for it, investors should keep in mind that such a lack may point to a lack of consumer need. Basically, if consumers were significantly interested in improving their hearing, why wouldn’t they be purchasing hearing aids in higher numbers? Social stigma may account for some of the difference, but it can’t do so for all of it. In addition, will consumers that have already invested hundreds or thousands of dollars in expensive treatments go for a therapy treatment app?

By virtue of providing a low-cost treatment option, individual consumers provide little in the way of revenue. The company estimates a lifetime value of $48.56 per customer. In order to provide significant returns for investors and the company, AudioCardio will need to attract a significant portion of the 38.2 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss, expand into the worldwide market of 466 million with disabling hearing loss, and retain them over time. Retention will be the real key. Judging by health and fitness companies that experience high levels of new customers around New Year’s only for business to peter off in the first couple of months, it can be difficult for consumers to be consistent in managing their health.

As with any startup investment, AudioCardio is a gamble, and the lack of any similar companies in this space means investors have no way of knowing just how likely this gamble is to pay off.

Bullish Outlook

AudioCardio has the foundation laid to meet a market need, assuming that market materializes. The app is hip, has good early reviews from customers, and addresses a problem cheaply that otherwise requires highly expensive and/or invasive electronics. Consumers do love to save money and be high-tech in doing so.

Assuming AudioCardio can continue to expand its user base over the next few years and can reach increasing levels of consumer engagement and retention, it can show investors significant returns. Retaining 1% of Americans suffering from hearing loss on a recurring basis would result in excess of $5 million in monthly revenue, and judging from the success of sound and meditation-based apps like Calm, that certainly seems attainable if the company continues to grow over the next several years.

Executive Summary

AudioCardio is a smartphone app therapy program to treat sensorineural hearing loss or damage to the inner ear. The program assesses the consumer’s current level of hearing loss, then provides personalized one-hour passive therapy sessions that can improve hearing range over time. The app operates on a freemium model with the first two weeks free and every month of subscription afterward costing $14.99.

The target market is decently sized, and there exists little in the way of competition for the company’s particular niche. However, the product’s effectiveness has yet to be definitively proven, and it is unclear just how much of AudioCardio’s target market can actually be drawn to consume and subscribe to the program. The application’s notable early traction is cause for optimism, though. Therefore, AudioCardio is a Neutral Deal.

For questions regarding the KingsCrowd staff pick or ratings for this company, please reach out to support@kingscrowd.com.

Analysis written by Benjamin Potts.

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AudioCardio on Republic
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Platform: Republic
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $9,750,000

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