Braci capitalizes on Europe’s growing hard of hearing market
Anwar Al Mojarkesh has built up a long list of inventions that he sought to one day realise. One was a “dancing pillow” that would alert a heavy snorer that they were making too much noise, encouraging them to switch positions. Not seeing a way to do this in the Middle East, he headed for the UK.
Since making the move two years ago, his company Braci along with his two cofounders, Amr Wanly and Juma El Awaisi, are now the recipients of £100,000 (Around US$128,300) in investment from Denmark.
They hope to use the funding to acquire more distribution partners in Denmark and the UK, while also hiring talent and getting a UK patent.
The three founders were first based in Wolverhampton, a central city in UK, and are now in Birmingham. They are part of the Natwest and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) program that sets up startup “hubs” around the UK, offering 18 months of free workspace, advice, and general support. “Kind of like an accelerator,” says Al Mojarkesh.
While Braci wants to use the UK as their base, they are not shy about eyeing other parts of Europe as well. Their company is registered in Denmark. According to Al Mojarkesh, Danish city councils have a huge budget for programs aiding those with hearing loss.
Being in Europe has allowed the Braci team to experiment. Starting out with a snore detector, they have pivoted to focus on apps that alert the hard of hearing community of sounds in the home, from a doorbell to a smoke alarm. As Europe’s population ages, the hard of hearing market is growing, presenting new opportunities for innovative devices like Braci.
Since Wamda spoke with Braci one year ago they have acquired several customers in the UK and recently launched a new range of products titled Sound Alert.
Each product, when coupled with Braci’s Sound Alert app, alerts users through a display on a smartphone, smartwatch or other portable smart devices, of a wide variety of indoor and outdoor sounds.
For example, someone using a Bluetooth radio device can ‘hear’ a doorbell from as far as 50 meters away. The Braci app picks up the sound and sends an audio alert of a ringing doorbell to the phone.
Another Braci app is Shake Me. For those with limited hearing, this app amplifies loud ringers (up to 90dB), flashes an LED light, and sets off vibration when receiving a phone call.
They are now in the process of working with Conversor, a UK-based hearing device company on new products that will combine both Bluetooth and radio frequencies.
Last year Al Mojarkesh told Wamda that previous attempts to launch in Saudi Arabia had failed due to lack of awareness around hearing loss. The market is also smaller than the UK.
According to the World Health Organization, 360 million were suffering from hearing loss globally in 2012, and only 3 percent is estimated to be in the Middle East. Europe accounts for 9 percent and South and East Asia, combined, is 47 percent. A re-entry into his home market isn’t at the top of their list.