In early 2022, eMoyo – manufacturer of the revolutionary Kuduwave portable audiology device – realised a decades-long dream when we opened our first branch in the United States of America. Even though, in the words of our COO Jillian Scotland, it is still “early days”, our South African med-tech company has been going from strength to strength.
Interest in eMoyo’s groundbreaking Kuduwave portable audiometer is fast gaining momentum, with NASA requiring an additional three modified Kuduwave Pro-TMPs, used by astronauts aboard the ISS to conduct self-hearing tests.
Various departments within the US Military Veterans’ Association have begun ordering Kuduwave portable audiometers, with growing interest from the United States Occupational Health sector – and that’s just the beginning!
Read our Q&A with Jillian for an update on what’s been happening at eMoyo since we opened our first US office in Wilmington, Delaware, in March 2022.
What led to the decision to expand eMoyo into the US?
We partnered with US organisation Entheos Hearing whenever they visited South Africa on their hearing outreach programmes. Naturally, we met a lot of American audiologists in the process, and through this process, interest in eMoyo and our products started building in the United States. We then started cold calling US audiologists to introduce them to our products, the Kuduwave portable audiometer in particular, and word-of-mouth awareness started growing. Increasingly, we were being asked whether eMoyo had a branch in the United States or whether we’d be opening one anytime soon.
As a first step, we got a US distributor who then started marketing our products in North America. In March this year, after decades of keeping the dream alive, we finally opened our first US branch in Wilmington, Delaware.
Tell us more about eMoyo’s US launch in March 2022
It was a great success. We’ve been welcomed with open arms in the US since Day One. Audiologists have been dropping by our premises to bring their Kuduwave devices in for calibration, and we find that offering calibrations in the US has even helped push up our sales somewhat. Of course, it was all new and a bit scary initially, but on the whole, it has been incredibly exciting. We’re not looking back. It’s all systems go.
This week, one of our technicians will arrive in California to calibrate 71 Kuduwave portable audiometers onsite. If he manages to do that in under a month, he will be setting a new record for Kuduwave calibrations.
Looking back over eMoyo’s first six months in the US, what were the wins, challenges, and learnings?
It’s still early days. I’d say the really big wins are still in the pipeline. But we are definitely gaining momentum over there. For example, NASA is in the process of ordering another three modified Kuduwave Pro-TMPs to take up aboard the International Space Station, where the astronauts use them for self-testing. This is, of course, one client - and endorsement- we’re incredibly proud of.
One challenge has been not having a full-time eMoyan heading up our US office. We have people going back and forth between the US and SA. As a South African company, our biggest challenge has probably just been getting used to a different culture and a different way of marketing our audiology devices, the Kuduwave in particular.
How does selling the Kuduwave portable audiology device in the US differ from selling it in SA?
In South Africa, potential clients will visit our website, watch our product videos, make contact with us, and we’ll do an online demo with them. In the USA, potential clients want to have the actual device in their hands before spending money on it. They want to use and get to know the device for a couple of days before making a purchasing decision.
In the US, at any given time, we have a number of Kuduwaves, loan devices, essentially, going around the country, and we have to check these audiology devices carefully, ensuring they’re fully functional while also supporting the hearing healthcare professionals who are trialling them.
So it’s just a bit more complicated logistically over there, a different marketing model.
You’ve been dealing with the US military’s Veteran’s Association since your expansion into the US. Tell us more about that?
Yes, Darien, one of our sales representatives, has been in contact with various departments that fall under the US Veteran’s Association, and we’ve been making good inroads selling more and more Kuduwaves to these departments.
We’re really happy about this as we strongly believe that the Kuduwave is ideal for testing the hearing of ex-servicemen and -women, as well as other personnel in military environments.
Has the occupational health sector in the US been showing interest in the Kuduwave portable audiometer?
This is starting to happen. We’ve recently had an absolutely phenomenal conversation with a US occupational health company that is considering acquiring 300 Kuduwave portable audiometers from us. This is such an exciting development for us as a company. It means word of the Kuduwave being ideal for testing hearing in occupational health environments is spreading in the US.
What are your future plans in the US?
In the short term, we are getting our plans in place to have our business open over the festive season. In the US, unlike here, they only close on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. In the long term, we just want to keep growing eMoyo, eventually having at least one representative in each state.
Can you tell us anything more about the three Kuduwaves NASA recently ordered from you?
These are specially adapted Kuduwave Pro-TMP audiometers. These audiology devices make use of NASA software and are used by astronauts for self-testing aboard the ISS. Basically, NASA requires more of what they already have up there.
NASA also now started using Kuduwave audiometers to test staff on the ground, which is an exciting development.
Are there any other US organisations or companies worth mentioning that have been buying Kuduwaves from you?
Boys Town has been purchasing a lot of Kuduwaves from us as well. Not all of the youths in their care are addicts, of course. But there is a link between substance abuse and ototoxicity. Of course, the Kuduwave portable audiometer is ideal for use in rehabilitation environments or wherever the hearing of children and young adults requires testing.
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