As co-founder and CEO of Eversound, Jake Reisch ’15 leads a team that creates wireless headphones designed to improve quality of life for older adults and ease communication between residents of senior living communities and their caregivers. To date, the technology has been adopted by over 500 senior living communities. Eversound’s founders were named to the “Forbes 30 Under 30” list for consumer technology in 2018.
What does your business do, and what problem does it solve?
Eversound’s goal is to improve health outcomes and quality of life for seniors in elder care communities. Social isolation among seniors is linked to higher rates of mortality and greater health care costs. Eversound makes easy-to-use headphones that enhance focus and engagement for seniors with hearing loss or dementia. They can be used for group activities, communication with caregivers, music therapy, and visits with friends and family. We also provide member communities with a digital library of activities they can use to stimulate social interaction.
How did you get the idea for your business?
My co-founders and I had watched as our loved ones’ senses declined and they struggled to remain connected to the world around them. We wanted to create something that would help. Many of Eversound’s users have lost their spouses or their children, and some of them no longer have anyone visiting them. We see ourselves as advocates above all else.
Starting a business is a big risk, especially straight out of school. How did you decide to take the risk?
My last semester at Cornell, we talked to people in over 100 senior living communities about the idea for Eversound. Almost no one believed in us. John Alexander ’74, MBA ’76, a former Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year, was the only person who saw the potential. He gave us a few words of encouragement, our first investment and countless hours of mentorship. That really helped to get us off the ground.
How has your experience at Cornell impacted how you approach business?
Going through Cornell’s eLab accelerator helped to structure my thinking. It forced me into a customer-centric development approach and taught me how to address each problem we faced. Ken Rother, Tom Schryver, Zach Shulman, Brad Treat and Deb Streeter were all critical figures in my learning experience at Cornell.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur? Why?
I recently had a check-in with one of our most valuable partners, who has Eversound in use in over 50 assisted living communities. She told us about the impact we were having on the residents and the staff’s lives, and how amazing their Eversound account manager was to work with. It was indescribably rewarding to think back on where we started and to hear the impact we’re having now.
Who or what inspires you?
Many of my mentors inspire me with their good will and authenticity. It takes a lot of dedication to accomplish what our investors and advisors have accomplished. Life is short, and I firmly believe that rallying people around important missions can make a difference.
If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?
Force yourself into the habit of monthly reporting with a consistent and focused metric dashboard. After you take your first funding, update your investors monthly, without fail, on the good and the bad. It builds rapport, creates accountability and forces you to look soberly at the progress you’re making over time.
Cornell’s expertise in research, technology and business education translates into meaningful impacts in communities around the world. Our mission extends beyond the classroom, helping entrepreneurs access the research and mentorship they need to start and grow successful businesses. Learn more.
This interview was conducted by Cornell Strategic Communications.