Eimear O’Carroll talks to Smart Futures about how her Young Scientist project led to Restored Hearing.
What subjects did you take in school?
For the Leaving Cert, I did French, history, physics and chemistry.
In transition year, we started doing projects for the BT Young Scientist. In sixth year, we completed a more advanced project and developed the product for tinnitus (noise or ringing in the ear) that we now sell.
What courses did you do after school?
I completed a masters in physics in the University of Edinburgh in May.
When did you set up the company?
We competed in the Young Scientist Exhibition in January 2009.
The company was founded that May and we sat the Leaving Cert in June. We spent that summer setting up everything. The website launched that August, a month before we started our degrees.
What inspired you to keep up the work you started at the Young Scientist Exhibition?
The massive public response we had at the BT Young Scientist made us think that we had to bring our product to more people.
I don’t know if we quite knew what we were getting ourselves in to!
What products have Restored Hearing developed?
We treat and prevent hearing damage due to noise.
For tinnitus, we’ve continued to develop the therapy that was originally launched at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. That’s an online streamed sound therapy.
This has been clinically proven and I completed this work as part of my masters.
A lot of noise damage that happens is totally avoidable so we hope to empower people to prevent it.
We’ve developed a hearing protection product. Our headphones are eight times better than the current standard and will be on the market next year.
Describe your typical day
There’s no such thing as a typical day.
If I’m in Ireland I have team meetings, work on developing the products and make sure they are delivered. I also talk to retailers and do a lot of science communication work.
We travel a lot. I was in the United States recently and next month we’re in the UK visiting tinnitus sufferers, talking to researchers and speaking about tinnitus to raise awareness of it.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started out?
Get good legal advice.
A lot of people who are starting a company don’t invest on the legal side and this can be a pain later on when trying to get investments.
There are so many people out there who are really keen to help start-ups, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.