Elevator Pitch: Ozen

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Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Akiva Szental, co-founder of Ozen.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Ozen is a healthcare platform designed to educate people about hearing aids and hearing loss and then connect them with the very best local Audiologists in their area. With 1 in 6 suffering from hearing loss, on average it takes around 7 years from when someone first starts noticing their hearing loss to go and seek help. We want to speed this up by providing the very best hearing care information online.

We partner with local, independent Audiologists around the country and aim to drive quality leads and informed patients through their doors. By having a large network and a low operating cost base we can drive significant savings to customers.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Right now we are completely bootstrapped and plan to be for a while until we are comfortable with our operations to take on external capital. From past experience, I’ve seen dangers on taking on capital too early so we are running a lean ship for now We come from digital marketing and startup backgrounds so we use PPC, SEO and display now to drive growth. We are constantly iterating on ideas and aren’t afraid to test out new channels, we generally run a few small experiments and when we find one giving reasonable CPA’s we double down on that.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?

The biggest challenge right now is signing up good Audiologists around the country. We are a small team and our model can be seen as pretty disruptive in the Audiology space. The large hearing aid chains are really dominant in Australia so there is an educational process on how we can empower the smaller independents to get quality leads.

Also, there is an element of trust when going to see a health care professional such as an Audiologist. Since we are a new brand, customers who find us online haven’t really heard about us so there is that element of trust building that we need to get better at.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

First, we are digital first rather than running offline clinics with website and digital being an afterthought. Second, we are completely independent of hearing aid manufacturers who own a lot of the retail space. We only partner with the very best independent Audiologists meaning we can provide completely unbiased and independent advice to customers.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Probably Whatsapp, right now so much of my life from work, friends and family is organised through group chats it would be very tough to go back to traditional messaging.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Block out the Noise. Every business has one or two KPI’s which are at the core of the business. In the startup space it’s very easy to get distracted on vanity metrics that look good, but in the end of the day aren’t helping you build a solid business. If you can figure out your core KPI’s early and build your business around them, you have a much better chance of success in any space.

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