Say so-long to Q-tips and those huge, awkward water syringes. If Seattle startup SafKan Health gets its way, antiquated ear cleaning devices will be a thing of the past.
The company has developed a pair of headphones that can professionally clean a patient’s ears in just 35 seconds, and it just raised a $1 million seed round to help launch the device at U.S. hospitals.
Sahil Diwan, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said the largest contributions in the round came from the Seattle Angel Conference, where the company took home first prize and a $145,000 investment last year. The VC fund of accelerator Dreamit and other angel investors also participated.
The new funds will help the company get its OtoSet device into the hands of doctors across the West Coast, the first step of its market launch.
Diwan said primary care doctors and otolaryngologists at University of Washington Medicine, Stanford Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, and Providence Saint John’s Health Center will be the first to use the OtoSet later this year.
The device will only be available to medical professionals for the time being, but Diwan said the company plans to expand into the consumer market in the future.
SafKan was co-founded by Diwan and his brother, Aadil Diwan, the company’s CTO and inventor of the OtoSet. Aadil came up with the idea after years of visiting doctors to have impacted earwax removed, a common problem for Americans that can cause pain, hearing loss and other ear problems. The existing treatment — a doctor squirting water into a patient’s ear with a blunt syringe — just wasn’t cutting it.
The OtoSet uses nozzles to spray a mix of warm water and hydrogen peroxide into the patient’s ear canal, loosening the earwax and flushing it out. The nozzles also suction the water and earwax back into the device to avoid messy spills. The device was featured in GeekWire’s Inventions We Love panel at the 2017 GeekWire Summit.
In a previous interview with GeekWire, Sahil Diwan said the OtoSet makes ear cleaning easier, quicker and more comfortable for patients and doctors alike. But it also makes the process more business-savvy.
“Physicians and providers are actually losing money every single time they do one of these procedures, right now. And it’s simply because of labor costs,” Diwan said. “With our device, it actually makes it profitable.”
The seed round is SafKan’s first outside investment. The company now employs eight people with plans to grow its team in the coming months.