This year’s cohort of Cornell student startups from eLab will pitch their ideas at eLab Demo Day 2017, one of the many events during Entrepreneurship at Cornell Celebration. eLab Demo Day is free, but you can register for Celebration to attend all the fun and insightful events!
As a student at Cornell University, Jake Reisch, Interdisciplinary Studies ’15, created Party Headphones, capitalizing on the “silent disco” trend. Reisch started selling and renting radio frequency wireless headphones to event planners and mobile entertainers. The technology allowed for unique events with multiple music channels for partygoers to enjoy a gathering without restrictive noise ordinances. Guests can also socialize freely without yelling over loud music.
Reisch’s technology was not limited to the party scene. After observing communication and hearing difficulties from staff and residents in senior living communities, Reisch realized that the technology he was developing for creative parties could meet an important need for a growing population: the deaf and hard of hearing. Using entrepreneurial skills he learned at Cornell’s eLab student accelerator, Reisch discovered his real target customer.
“I spent over 3 months visiting over 100 senior living communities to ask them as many questions as possible,” Reisch said. Keeping careful track of his conversations with his customers and mentors at eLab, he made the decision to pivot and rebrand; Eversound was born.
For elder care facilities, keeping communities with a high percentage of disabling hearing loss engaged and entertained is a challenge. Hearing aids, which can have a high cost and are often difficult to use, have limited success. Eversound approaches the problem from an inclusive environmental and communal perspective, aiming to become a standard for senior living communities. By helping communities create more vibrant and engaging events, Eversound can benefit all residents — whether or not they struggle with hearing loss. During events — such as movies and lectures — attendees are given an Eversound headset that allows them to control the volume and tune into the programs they want to hear. This individualized experience lets each user make decisions based on their own needs.
Difficulty hearing in a group environment is a problem faced by thousands of elderly citizens across the country. Over 30 million adults in America will experience hearing loss by 2050. Untreated hearing loss can be socially isolating. According to a review conducted by sociologist Erin Cornwell of Cornell University, both perceived and real social isolation are among the leading predictors of poor health and mortality in the older adult population. Using technology like Eversound is an increasingly easy way to reconnect seniors to social support and engaging activities. A recent 6-month study by the Internal Research Council at LCB Senior Living showed an overall 28% increase in engagement among residents after offering Eversound.
At the end of 2016, Eversound secured 3 million in funding from venture capitalist groups such as Shelter Group, Red Bear Angels, and 10x Ventures in order to continue serving the rapidly expanding senior living community population. Reisch plans to partner with several of the largest senior living providers in the country.
Reisch still fondly reflects on his roots in Ithaca, keeping in touch with the entrepreneurs in residence at Rev. “We simply wouldn’t exist without eLab. It gave me the confidence to take the dive. It surrounded me with other people doing big stuff.”