Easyhear: Jonathan Ormerod
Jonathan Ormerod tells us how he is revolutionising the hearing aid market
Jonathan Ormerod spotted that buying hearing aids either involved a long wait on the NHS or forking out lots of cash. He realised that there must be a great untapped market out there for a cheap and easy to fit device.
Jonathan Ormerod has been in the hearing aid business for some time. Previously he worked at Siemens before going it alone in 1995 with the establishment of Hearing Electronics Limited.
His latest venture, Easyhear, is still in its first 12 months of trading, however Ormerod feels that it is going to turn into a massive hit as it has already achieved a turnover to match his first company.
“Easyhear is set to bring in as much turnover as the rest of the business in its first year – £500,000 – if not more. I can see it taking over our entire operation.”
Customers purchase a ‘one-size-fits-all’ device online and have the option of return if the device doesn’t work. Ormerod says the device is cheaper than those selling on the high street and it saves the long wait involved by going through the NHS.
“If you want to get a hearing aid in this country you either you either go through the NHS or you go to the high street and pay between £1000-£3000.
“There is also a great stigma attached to hearing aids, we are trying to get around that by allowing people the chance to try them out in their own home.”
Ormerod feels that the factors of undesirability combined with a high cost or a long wait means that there is a huge untapped market out there for an accessible and cheaper hearing aid.
“The concept of Easyhear is a totally new in the hearing aid and hearing care market.
“People can try it in their own home and it either works or not and for most people it seems to.
“The untapped market is enormous.”
Hearing aids are something that are usually associated with the elderly, however Easyhear’s aid is bought online – a medium mostly used by the young.
“What I particularly want to do is to target the young age group. The over 70s are the main age group willing to get aids, but young people will not.
“We want to help change that as there are many people who will not buy an aid even though they need one.”
Ormerod spent a number of years working for other companies, however starting up a business is something like a family tradition and soon he felt the pull.
“My father was an entrepreneur and I think I have always wanted to be one too but like many people I started off in a job,” says Ormerod.
“But I don’t like the idea of working for someone else and I thought I would succeed more if I went it alone.”
Although Ormerod had experience running a company and felt that he knew his market well, he still faced a challenge in a new area – setting up a successful website.
“The challenge of setting up an e-commerce site has been quite interesting.
“That’s a whole art in itself really. We worked with a company called Shop Creator who are based up in Leeds.
“They basically host the site for us and did the design. We discussed the concept from scratch with them. That was a huge minefield, but we now have a site that runs smoothly 24 hours a day.”
Easyhear is doing well in the UK, however success in this country is only the beginning of the road, Ormerod says.
“I do believe that it has a worldwide appeal and it is certainly something that we can expand into Europe and other countries.
“We are particularly interested in targeting Germany, I think that will be our next step. It is has a bigger hearing aid market than the UK.”
When asked what he thinks of the UK as a place to do business in he says that the current government is getting in the way.
“I think it is increasingly tough to do business in the UK. Our socialist government is not helping quite frankly, I don’t think it is particularly entrepreneur friendly.
“I think that government views business as a source of revenue to fund social policies.
“Most businesses are going to become rather resentful.”
Ormerod takes inspiration from entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Bernie Ecclestone.
He finds the Formula One boss particularly impressive as “he achieved what he has from nothing”. However, he says his father has been his main inspiration.
For any other potential entrepreneurs planning their first move, his advice is clear.
“Start young. Start as early as you can. The sooner you start, the sooner you will be successful.”