Know your business and why it’s different, says #IBYE 2014 Finalist, Rhona Togher.
90 Second Chat Series with Rhona Togher of Restored Hearing, County Sligo
Name: Rhona Togher
Title: CEO of Restored Hearing
Company Founders: Eimear O’Carroll and Rhona Togher
Award Category: Best Established Business, Finalist at #IBYE 2014
“Know your business and why it’s different. Make sure you truly believe in your product too,” Rhona Togher of Restored Hearing (#IBYE Finalist from 2014).
Rhona – for anyone who hasn’t heard of Restored Hearing yet, what do you do and who are your customers?
Restored Hearing is a business that has created two products to address the global health issue of noise damaged hearing.
’Sound Relief’ is an online sound therapy for those suffering from tinnitus, which has been proven to reduce chronic ringing in the ears within one month.
‘Sound Bounce’ is responsive hearing protection that functions eight times better than standard hearing protection.
Our customers for ‘Sound Relief’ are the 300 million people with tinnitus worldwide. For ‘Sound Bounce’, we work with industry partners to tailor and integrate ‘Sound Bounce’ in each relevant market and application.
What inspired you to come up with the idea in the first place?
I set up the company with my co-founder six years ago because we both had tinnitus from playing in bands and attending concerts.
We decided to create a solution to the problem after realising the demand for such a product, so we began our research, carried out the therapy and that’s how ‘Restored Hearing’ was born.
You’ve made the successful transition from science project to commercial entity – what were the biggest challenges to overcome along the way?
Demonstrating our technology while it was still at an early stage of development was challenging, as was communicating the value and potential of a brand new technology.
Further rounds of prototyping, industry tests, and industry demand all helped towards proving out the technologies we’ve developed.
Fundraising also proved a challenge early on. It’s an all-consuming process, so as a small team we found it difficult to push other aspects of the business forward as quickly as we would have liked at the same time as raising money.
Any ‘business breakthroughs’ since you took part in #IBYE last year?
We’ve begun working on enriching our digital offering for people with tinnitus, so we decided to collaborate with fellow #IBYE finalist ‘Showoff’ who specialise in mobile app development to help us come up with our new ‘Sound Relief’ app which will be launched at the end of August 2015.
We’ve also doubled the team and look forward to seeing ‘Sound Bounce’ on the market this autumn, so it’s quite an exciting time for Restored Hearing.
You’re also an SME Awareness Ambassador- why did you decide to get involved?
As an SME Awareness Ambassador, I’m particularly passionate about raising awareness of female entrepreneurship as a viable career choice for young women.
There are amazing Irish businesses run by incredible women and I’d like to see them front and centre as role models for the next generation.
[See Rhona’s video for SME Awareness here http://www.enterprise.gov.ie/en/SME-Awareness-Campaign/Our-Ambassadors/Rhona-Togher.html ]
What are your ‘Top Tips’ for anyone thinking of starting up their own business?
Get down to your LEO (Local Enterprise Office)! They’ll help you navigate founding a new business and can point you to some potential sources of funding.
They provided our first funding, which made all the difference as a pair of students with minimal financial clout.
Know your business and why it’s different! Make sure you truly believe in your product too. The journey ahead is full of highs and lows and if you don’t really care about what you’re doing then there’s no point putting yourself through it.
Do you think there’s a scientific formula behind effective pitching? If so, can you share it with us?
Keep it simple, you need to be able to explain your business quickly and in a way that someone with no technical background can understand.
Think carefully about the piece of information that you want to leave people with and then find your ideal style for delivering that information.
What were the biggest benefits from entering #IBYE?
Along with putting us through our paces, #IBYE gained us national media coverage, helping to boost sign ups to Sound Relief.
We also met other amazing businesses, some of which we’re now collaborating with, and of course, it was so fantastic to win prize money. We’ve put that toward expanding our team, having doubled in the last two months.