Don’t let your company's "wow" get lost in the complexity

Who knew that 80% of kids get ear infections, or that there has never been a way to diagnose them accurately? I was blown away when PhotoniCare co-founder Ryan told me about their new device, which sees through the eardrum to the middle ear where the infection resides, making an accurate diagnosis for the first time. Oops, where’s the “wow” factor?

Ryan and his partner, who is also named Ryan, came up to me after they heard my talk about branding at a session for Larta NIH CAP companies. After telling me about his device, Ryan flipped open his laptop and asked me, “What do you think of our website?” I looked. Well, the wow was getting lost in the complexity. This is a typical problem tech innovators face when transitioning from R&D to commercialization.

Larta’s CAP program goes to work

The beauty of Larta’s NIH CAP program is that the Larta team has put together a network of top experts in every field, from marketing to finance, to advise participating companies so that they can get to the next level quickly. My area happens to be branding and messaging, strategy and creative – something my company Reality2 has been doing for 3 decades.

I’ve been working with Larta for 12 years now, and continue to be impressed, and often amazed, by the depth and breadth of the value and support this program delivers to the participating companies, who get practical knowledge and tools that take them to the next level. To quote Rohit Shukla, Larta’s CEO, you need to put your best foot forward, starting with your website, which is the hub for your brand. And PhotoniCare’s website was not there yet.

A new website that makes it all clear

I sat with Ryan and Ryan in a corner while everyone filed off to lunch. “You need to clearly define the problem and the solution right upfront,” I said. I scribbled suggested copy on a napkin. The next day, the new text was up on the PhotoniCare website. These energetic guys didn’t waste time. Still, the home-made site, which had worked fine while they were in R&D, wasn’t strong enough to take PhotoniCare to the next level.

Co-founders Ryan Shelton and Ryan Nolan recognized it was time to bring in a professional branding company, and engaged Reality2.

We analyzed the business environment, recommended a strategy, and brought it to life online to meet a range of objectives. PhotoniCare wants to attract strategic partners, generate pre-launch interest among pediatricians and ENT specialists and support new reimbursement codes with payors.

Visit website:

The website we developed makes an emotional and rational connection with the B2B audience, from doctors to potential partners. We present the problem and the PhotoniCare solution clearly on the homepage. One of my favorite panels within the site shows an otoscope from the 1880’s headlined, “Ear exam technology hadn’t changed much for centuries. Until now.”

The site explains the breakthrough: one of PhotoniCare’s innovations is to bring OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) to ear examination. OCT, which is like ultrasound but uses light, is the gold standard for retinal examination. But you can’t use those gigantic desktop systems to examine ears. A PhotoniCare innovation is to miniaturize OCT to work in a familiar hand-held ear exam device. Painless. Non-invasive. Accurate.

Soon, PhotoniCare will be revolutionizing the way ear infections are diagnosed and treated. How often can a branding and marketing agency say that it’s helped make millions of kids happier and healthier? I’m so glad to be part of the NIH CAP program, to help companies who are helping to make the world a better place!


“Reality2 took a proactive, strategic and creative approach to helping us with our re-branding by analyzing our competition, target customers, and industry environment. They honed in on our customer's unmet needs, and translated our product difference into a creative and clearly portrayed story.” - Ryan Nolan, Co-Founder, PhotoniCare

Farida Fotouhi is President of Reality2, a marketing, branding and creative services company she founded to help clients address new realities in the business environment. Prior to Reality2, she was co-founder and CEO of Fotouhi Alonso Inc., which was one of LA’s top mid-sized advertising agencies for over 20 years. Farida has spent 30 years working with clients ranging from major national brands to entrepreneurial start-ups. Her experience spans virtually every category in both B2B and consumer marketing.

The daughter of an American diplomat, Farida spent her childhood overseas, and consequently speaks Japanese, Portuguese, some French, Hausa, and casual Spanish. She helped her father market the USA in various countries, and has been involved in marketing ever since. The Fotouhis were the first diplomatic family assigned to Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. Farida graduated cum laude from Middlebury College in Vermont. She lives in Mandeville Canyon with her husband Mike Freehling, a corporate finance consultant, and their Rhodesian Ridgeback Bodie. She is an avid equestrian and competes in show jumping events.