Columbia, SC – South Carolina Research Authority’s investment affiliate, SC Launch Inc., has invested in WAVS Custom. The $200,000 investment will help the Greenville-based startup continue growing its company and explore new markets for its custom-fit ear audio products. It developed a 3D scanning and manufacturing platform that makes custom-fitted in-ear monitors (IEMs) that provide a higher degree of noise isolation for better sound.
WAVS Custom became an SCRA Member Company in October last year and received a $50,000 Acceleration Grant. They became an SC Launch Inc. Portfolio Company with this investment.
The WAVS Custom startup story is inspiring, with founder Ric Hoke starting his company when he identified a barrier to helping people. Hoke volunteered and provided music therapy to Alzheimer’s patients when many of the earbuds and headphones did not fit properly. He researched IEMS, which were too expensive for the patients. This is when he began experimenting with 3D printing technology and developed an app that creates custom-fitted IEMs. They provide better sound quality than standard earbuds that sit in the outer ear, allowing ambient noise to interfere.
“The technology is very easy to use because customers use WAV’s 3D scanning app to scan their ears with their phones,” said SCRA Investment Associate Daniel Gambrell. “The company sends instructions to customers, and the scanning process takes less than 30 seconds.”
“We’ve made IEMs affordable and more accessible for customers, and this is changing how patients, musicians, music leaders, and others hear music,” said WAVS Custom CEO Ric Hoke. “The teams at SCRA and SC Launch Inc. believe in what we’ve created and how we are revolutionizing the music industry. We’re looking forward to this continued partnership.”
“WAVS Custom identified a problem and created a solution. This is a recipe for a successful startup, and we’re excited to partner with them and be part of their continued growth,” said SCRA Executive Director Bob Quinn.
WAVS Custom recently developed a gaming headset, makes custom-fit 2-way radios for first responders, and offers accessories, including memory foam covers, Bluetooth upgrades, charging cables, adapters, and cases.
Established in 2006, SC Launch Inc. is the investment affiliate of the South Carolina Research Authority. The independent, nonprofit corporation provides convertible loans and investment funding to qualifying SCRA Member Companies. The returns on this funding provide additional coaching and grants to next-generation technology startups.
Chartered in 1983 by the State of South Carolina as a public, nonprofit corporation, South Carolina Research Authority fuels the state’s innovation economy through the impact of its comprehensive services to technology-based startups, academia, and industry. SCRA provides funding and support to accelerate the growth of academic startups; high-quality lab and administrative workspaces; facilitation and funding for partnerships between and among industry, startups, and academic institutions; assistance and funding for the relocation of technology-based companies to South Carolina; and coaching and funding for startups that may also receive investments from its affiliate, SC Launch Inc.
Director of Marketing and Communications, SCRA