Tinnitus startup Oto has raised £2.8 million seed investment.

The London company graduated from the Silicon Valley Y Combinator accelerator programme three months ago.

There is currently no cure for tinnitus, which affects up to 1 in 7 people around the world, and is commonly left unmanaged or poorly managed, which causes significant distress for those living with the condition. 

In the absence of a definitive solution with widespread access for the growing number of people living with tinnitus, Oto’s founding team set out to develop a unique solution based on their clinical experience and personal experience of the condition. 

Founded by former military doctors Dr Edmund Farrar, Dr George Leidig, who also live with tinnitus, along with specialist registrar in ear, nose and throat surgery Dr Jameel Muzaffar, Oto is the first venture-funded digital tinnitus solution. 

The round was led by Octopus Ventures, supported by Goodwater Capital and Y Combinator with additional follow-on funding from Calm Storm Ventures and Bethnal Green Ventures.

“Tinnitus currently affects around 50 million people in the US and UK, of which 20 million have intrusive tinnitus, a condition that can severely impact an individual’s life,” said Kamran Adle, investor at Octopus Ventures.

“For many this is a condition that they have little choice but to ‘learn to live with’. The Oto team, however, refuse to habituate and instead are providing a 10x cheaper and more convenient way to help people manage their condition. 

“Though they probably don’t complain, we all know someone who suffers from tinnitus and have seen the effects it can have on an individual’s life. 

“This is one of the reasons we wanted to support George, Ed and the entire Oto team as they tackle the market and provide an innovative digital solution to a long overlooked issue.”

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According to the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance, recommended first line treatment for tinnitus-related distress is digital cognitive behavioural therapy. However until Oto was launched, there has never been a digital option.

Now, Oto has built a science-backed support programme via a mobile app to manage what can be an incredibly debilitating condition. 

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Dr Farrar added: “As a chronic condition that is not well understood and has no known cure, the impact of tinnitus can be far reaching for those affected by it, which makes this raise incredibly important to us. 

“Achieving an oversubscribed round at any time is a huge achievement and something we’re immensely proud of. However, against the backdrop of the investment downturn, founding teams have to be more intentional about how funding is used. 

“For us, this means doubling down on achieving precision product market fit to accelerate towards profitability by ensuring that the products we’re developing directly address the needs of what is an incredibly underserved community. 

“We’re over the moon to be building on our experiences as part of the W22 Y Combinator programme and guided on that journey by a fantastic investor team, led by industry experts Octopus Ventures.”

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