Business Plan Winners Target Aging Boomers
A company hoping to revolutionize the hearing aid business the way Domino's Pizza brought affordable fast food to people's doors, as well as a startup venture that is developing a handheld device allowing analysis of bodily fluids at a doctor's office, each won the $10,000 top prizes in the 2007 Boomer Business Plan Competition.
The competition winners were announced during the recent Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit, a conference held at Santa Clara University in California by Mary Furlong and Associates and the university's Leavey School of Business. Besides seeing conference presentations, members of the business community watched five competition finalists in each of two categories pitch their ideas to a panel of judges consisting of venture capitalists and experts in aging.
Siamak Sani, CEO of the World Hearing Organization (WHO), based in San Jose, Calif., won with his innovative plan to bring low-cost hearing aid centers-"like Domino's pizza," he said-to community hospitals, drugstores, nursing homes and other healthcare venues. Instead of visiting audiologists, people would go to a mobile center to be tested and would be fitted immediately with a high-quality hearing aid for about $250 per ear, far less than the current cost of about $3,000 per set.
Furthermore, Sani said that 25 million people in the potential market remain untreated because of cost and lack of access. He suggested that the low cost of WHO's hearing aids could enable government health programs or nonprofit organizations to provide them to those in poverty. …