Swiss entrepreneur Patrick Freuler was the guest speaker of the most recent event of the Young Professional Committee of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce (SACC YPC). The lecture was organized in partnership with the swissnex Boston New York Outpost.
Patrick shared his insights into starting an internet company from scratch and told the audience the story of Audicus - the start-up he founded in 2011 as a new online marketplace for hearing aids.
The value proposition of Audicus is to provide affordable, designer hearing aids to a broader audience by serving customer directly without the costs of intermediaries. With this new approach the company positions the products as a consumer electronic accessory more than a complex medical device. "The size of the US market for hearing devices is close to 40 million people and it will continue to grow in the coming years," comments Patrick Freuler. This is mostly due to the increase in use of mp3 devices, like iPods or smart phones, by the younger generations.
Audicus is also revolutionizing the hearing aids distribution chain. Hearing devices cost up to $2000 or $3000 through traditional clinic solutions; Audicus's offers aids for almost 70% less with models ranging from $400 to $600 in price. This is the uniqueness of Audicus's disruptive business model: no more intermediaries, less cost for the end user! To purchase an Audicus device, a patient only needs to upload a prescription on Audicus's platform; then it will be reviewed by an audiologist who will ship the accurate solutions. Audicus works with independent manufacturers that supply the same technology as the traditional hearing aids makers, like Siemens or Phonak.
A bootstrap venture, Patrick Freuler started Audicus without major external investment. The traditional big players of the hearing aids industry still capture 95% of the market, but they should be wary competition of more agile businesses like Audicus. According to Patrick Freuler, his company has helped consumers to save $3.5 million in cost since Audicus' inception.
Audicus was featured in several global media stories, including an interview of Patrick Freuler by CNBC: