HAVAÍC first invested in hearX in 2019, putting its weight behind the healthcare tech business that will go on to revolutionise how hearing health is monitored and treated globally.
Pioneering hearing health
In 2015, De Wet Swanepoel, a professor of audiology, set out to turn smartphones into medically certified audiometers and give everyone everywhere access to hearing health solutions. Eight years and 1.5 million hearing tests later, hearX now has 130 employees and 20 products available in 191 countries worldwide.
The company perfectly aligns with HAVAÍC’s investment thesis to support scalable technology solutions to real-world challenges. Undetected hearing loss has devastating consequences, yet there’s less than one hearing health professional for every million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only 3% of people that need hearing aids have them. Accessible and affordable hearing screening and diagnostics products will irrevocably change the audiology industry in Africa and globally.
Innovation with impact
In its early years, hearX mobilised a system that accurately diagnosed hearing problems and referred patients to the nearest audiologist. But given the crippling lack of hearing health professionals, those affected still weren’t getting the help they needed. In 2020, hearX CEO Nic Kloppers led his team to close the loop and develop the company’s flagship Lexie Hearing Aid.
The pioneering hearing aid unbundles hearing health services from the cost of the hardware to offer a more affordable subscription model with no hidden costs. An app with on-demand support and a self-guided fitting process essentially automate what happens at the audiologist's office. In its first 18 months, hearX fitted over 7,000 people with its Lexie Hearing Aids. Today, the company is recording a tenfold month-on-month growth in sales.
In 2022, the United States Congress approved the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, and the Lexie Hearing Aid commenced national sales through leading pharmacy chains. It is one of only a handful of FDA-approved hearing aid OTC products in the market.
HearX continues to go from strength to strength, earning global recognition and accolades for its groundbreaking work. In June 2023, its flagship Lexie Hearing division was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential Companies globally. A month earlier, The Silicon Review named the company among the five best healthcare companies to watch. This follows its inclusion in the Financial Times' annual ranking of the fastest-growing companies in Africa, where hearX ranks at number 48.
Serving local communities
The company’s global ambitions are matched by its impressive outreach efforts on the ground here in Africa. HearX continues to not only create skilled and representative employment but also uplift disadvantaged communities through its hearX Foundation. To date, the team has fitted 6,000+ ears with hearing aids and helped 43,000 children access much-needed hearing solutions.
If their passion for their work and the tenacity with which they do it is anything to go by, Swanepoel, Kloppers, and the hearX team are only just getting started. We are excited to see what the future holds for this high-returning and impactful company and very proud to continue this journey as a proudly invested partner in the years to come.