20dB Hearing has revolutionized the way hearing aids are made available to the Malaysian public. A firm believer of highly customised products with the individual’s needs in mind, Mok Yong Yaw, founder and CEO of 20dB Hearing, shares with Top 10 of Malaysia how his passion to help those in need of hearing aid paved his way to success.
“Almost 20 years ago audiology was still a relevantly new field and when you become an audiologist you would probably end up working in hospitals,” states Mok who hails from Sibu, Sarawak. “After gaining my Bachelor of Audiology (Hons) from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, I worked as an audiologist at Siemens Medical Instruments Pte Ltd for 3 years and then I started this business.”
When asked how he got his business idea Mok adds, “Back then hearing aids were not easily available everywhere in Malaysia. The information and advice you get would be from the salespeople trained by the manufacturers or the salespeople’s own experience in selling the devices. The lack of professionalism made me realize that many of these people would benefit from getting professional advice and proper hearing aid rehabilitating process.”
“My mission is to have hearing aid services made available to the public and these services are to be provided by trained and qualified audiologists who can give professional advice and product customization services,” Mok shares. He set up his first shop, Gnosis Professional Hearing Services, in Kuala Lumpur in the year 2002. “In 2012, we rebranded our name to 20dB Hearing. Other than providing hearing aids to the public, auditory protection devices and cochlear implant consultation, our hearing care centre also provides speech therapy and clinical psychology services,” says Mok. While running and expanding his business, Mok did his Master of Business Administration from University of Melbourne on a part-time basis to enhance his business skills.
“We now have 23 outlets all over Malaysia. We believe that a local professional audiologist who knows local living lifestyle and behaviour would be in a better position to provide customised services to satisfy their requirements,” Mok explains. “One of the factors that contribute to our success is making our audiologists our business partners. Every one of them is responsible and accountable for the success of his or her outlet. Although we have a centralised management group, we give them freedom in making decisions that are ethical and beneficial to the client.”
Mok laments that one of the challenges in the business is the low public awareness and education on hearing aids. “Then there is also competition from other companies, especially online ones that offer cheaper but non-customised devices.” Nevertheless, Mok is proud of 20dB’s achievements. “We are the only hearing healthcare company that is ISO 9001:2015 certified in Malaysia, we provide nationwide support to our clients and we have a solid management structure that ensures sustainability.”
20dB Hearing offers Take Home Trial up to 20 days before the clients purchase the hearing aid. This is to let them be confident in making decisions to choose the right instrument which helps to improve their hearing experience. It also gives a better opportunity for the hearing aid wearer to experience the amplification in their environments.
Mok is looking forward to expanding his business further within the next 5 years. “We are already looking at having 30 outlets, promoting more awareness on hearing problems and solutions to the public, providing industrial audiometry services and cochlear implant,” reveals Mok. “In 10 years’ time, we would want to explore the regional markets.”
To Mok, having a good work-life balance is very important. “First thing, I never bring work home. Secondly, the weekends are for my family. I also exercise as often as I can.” When asked about his greatest achievements, Mok has this to say, “I’ve always thought of myself as a clinically trained person, not as someone managing a company, so I am very fortunate to be doing this. Also, I would like to think that I am contributing to the industry as well as the welfare of the society.”
Mok believes that people who are starting out in business should always think about adding value for the customers. “Do not just think of profit as this will hinder you from getting your business strategy right. Also, never stop learning, always talk to experienced people to learn from them, be prepared to take risks and always plan ahead