[THE INVESTOR] Smart hearing aid startup Olive Union said on Aug. 20 that it has raised 500 million won (US$445,590) funding from Japanese social enterprise LitaLico.
The investment comes after a previous fundraising campaign on US crowdfunding platform Indiegogo last year, through which the Korean startup attracted preorders worth 1 billion won for its budget smart hearing aid Olive.
Owen Song(left), CEO of Olive Union, and Atsumi Hasegawa, CEO of LitaLico
“We are grateful that Olive Union’s technology and design capabilities have been recognized through the latest investment by the Japanese firm,” said Owen Song, CEO of the Seoul-based startup.
“We will do our best for official launch of the product in the US and Korea, scheduled in the latter half of this year.”
The hearing aid, designed for people with a moderate hearing loss, is slightly larger than an average earbud. It costs around US$100, compared to more than US$ 2,000 for conventional hearing aids that cannot be connected to smartphones.
Impressed by the firm’s campaign on Indiegogo, the Japanese company started actively discussing investments early this year.
LitaLico, listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange, provides job and education assistance services for people with disabilities. It generates 80 billion won in revenue and currently hires 1,625. It has invested in a range of businesses for the physically challenged and children with developmental disorders. It runs centers to help people with disabilities find jobs, and classes to assist kids to learn social skills.
The Korean startup plans to take advantage of the latest investment to launch its product in Japan. The company has received a Teclec certificate, required for telecom companies to operate in the market.
The Olive hearing aid allows users to do a hearing test on their own by simply connecting the device with the firm’s smartphone app. Based on the results of the test, the app automatically sets the best audio frequencies for users while canceling noise.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)