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Jeff DiGiovanni of Sanuthera

Dr. Jeff DiGiovanni founded Sanuthera when he realized that the needs of individuals suffering from tinnitus and chronic ear ringing were not addressed by the marketplace. Sanuthera’s unique and potentially groundbreaking product will provide customizable sound therapy options that result in greater relief for patients at a greatly reduced cost.
What is Sanuthera?
Sanuthera is a startup company that is dedicated to providing customized treatment options for tinnitus. Our goal is to provide a superior, therapeutic product as well as offering data and expert opinions needed to make the best decisions about care.

More than 13 million patients are currently seeking medical attention for tinnitus or chronic ear ringing. Sanuthera’s unique product is the first device to offer patient-customizable sound therapy integrated with fully functional hearing aids, allowing it to treat both tinnitus and hearing loss. It combines a hearing aid with a wireless connection to customized therapy sounds. The synthesized design of the sound generator and hearing device improves upon the quality and convenience of available tinnitus treatment, which currently only offers these components separately. This combination results in relief at a greatly reduced cost for individuals suffering from tinnitus.

Why did you start your business?
As an audiologist, I had observed that even with hearing aids that addressed the condition there was not a particular treatment for tinnitus.  
How did you come up with the idea?
Conversations about the limited devices that were available led to discussions of how we might do it better. We envisioned a comprehensive solution for these patients.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of, and how did they help?
The Athens-based entrepreneurial support organization TechGROWTH Ohio provided pre-seed money. We received a $337,000 venture capital investment from TechGROWTH, some of which stemmed from grant funding from the State of Ohio. TechGROWTH also provide accounting support and an Executive-in-Residence.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
Along with our positive experience with TechGROWTH, we were able to look to Ohio’s manufacturing industry first for resources, without compromising quality or price. 

Where did you find your first employee? 
Pre-seed companies in Ohio don’t have compensated positions. When the device that we are working on is ready to go to market, we will hire staff.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Athens?
Rental and commercial spaces in Athens are fairly low-priced. Resources for startups are strong because there is support for building businesses in Southeast Ohio.   
What companies or founders do you admire and why?
People involved with start-up companies have constant drive and positivity in the face of challenges. Consistency and staying the course is admirable.
What’s next for you and your company? 
Sanuthera’s website went live on February 27th. We anticipate having prototypes fully tested within six months and FDA approval and market presence by year end.

Writer: Mona Bronson-Fuqua

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