One afternoon with the noisiest startup in Berlin – Noisli

This blog is a coworking journey. It’s a place where we share what we see, what we discover and what we live while building COWORKIES. When we found about Noisli, we instantly felt in love with its simple and beautiful design. We decided to dig and meet the founders of a product that can significantly improve your coworking experience.

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Noisli helps you to be more focused and boost your productivity. It is a background noise generator that helps you drown out annoying noises and creates a perfect working environment. You can mix different sounds tailored to your personal need and taste.

We met Sabine and Stefano, the founders of Noisli over a coffee to ask them a few questions about their startup and coworking life. So, time to read what they have to say!

Hey guys! Thanks for your time, we are super happy to have you as the first coworkies on our blog! Can you quickly introduce yourselves?

Stefano: Hi! I am Stefano, Italian, product designer and co-founder of Noisli.

Sabine:  My name is Sabine, I come also from Italy. I am a product and visual communication designer and the co-founder of Noisli.

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Now that we know your background, tell us about the Noisli journey? When did it start, how did you come up with the idea and what were the first steps?

Stefano: Noisli started in 2013 from a problem we had. At the time, we were working from home, freelancing. Working from home is really not easy, we had difficulties to stay motivated, we were feeling a bit lonely and isolated. So we decided to solve our problem and created Noisli. The first steps into Noisli were pretty busy as we did everything ourselves from A to Z. We first designed the visual identity of the product and developed the website. We took care of sourcing and editing the different sounds and we also launched the Facebook page and the Twitter account to be connected to our users.

Do you have any memories to share of your very beginning?

Stefano: Yes we do! When we launched the website, a few blogs picked-up on the product and started to write about it. One of them being LifeHacker. And obviously we got lifehacked  (ndlr, laugh) –

Sabine: the server went down

Stefano (Laughing): you could not access the website anymore for like half an hour.

Sabine: Are you sure it was just half an hour?

Stefano: Yes, but at that time it felt like an eternity. Our users were sending us tweets “Noisli is not available” and we did not know what to do really.

Sabine: It was also the first time we felt we built something people are using, so it had to work and stay up. We were feeling bad for taking away from our users something they liked and needed.

What happened after ?

Stefano: We started to build our iOS app. It tooks us 7 months to build and launch it. In May 2014, we published our app in the appstore. That was a big learning curve for us as we had to learn everything from scratch and search everything from “how to launch an iOS app”, “How to debug it”, “which kind of graphics do we need to provide”, to “what do we need for the store listing” and much more.

Sabine: yes and also, “how to pitch if for the press”. We had a googling experience. We were looking on one hand how other people are doing it and then deciding on how do we want to do it. Trying also to learn from mistakes other people were sharing for instance.

Stefano: It was a nice part of the Noisli journey. The hidden part was more composed of development and testing nights. Which is also a nice one because we were really trying to put ourselves into the shoes of our users, thinking how should they use it, how do we want them to interact with the app, which features would make the app even more useful and so on.

Sabine: If I may add, coming from the design field, we tried really hard to keep it as minimal and functional as it has to be. Because for us if it does not have a function it does not have to be there.

Stefano: We wanted users to be able to do reach everything inside the app in max. 2 taps. Otherwise we were afraid of losing them and undergrading their experience.

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After we launched the app, we understood we had something, something that people like and use, and we wanted to bring it to the next level. We then decided to apply to a startup accelerator. But before applying, we had to look on google what an accelerator was (laughing). We knew what a startup was, but we were not familiar with all the terms around that world. We applied to 2 accelerators, one in Italy and one in Denmark. We have been invited to the Selection Days of the danish one in Copenhagen, called Startupbootcamp. We packed our stuff and went there for 2 intensive selection days.

But before that, we had to learn how to prepare a pitch, how to prepare a deck, what a deck is, what do they want, and what has to be inside.

All our efforts paid off! We got selected and entered Startupbootcamp in August 2014 to be accelerated for 3 months.

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Sabine: This is also the time when we incorporated. For 1 year, it was a side project we dedicated more and more time to.

Stefano: The whole journey has been very gradual and natural. We were not forcing anything. We saw there was a need for the app, so we made it. We needed to incorporate the company, so we made it.

 

What happened after Startupbootcamp?

Stefano: In February 2015 we launched our new platform. Users were now able to sign up, have their profiles and save their favorite combos. We wanted the new platform to be more engaging and useful. At that time, we also had a promotional campaign with Apple and Starbucks running in US and Canada (from February to May) which was a really great opportunity for us.

Later on in May, we launched our Chrome extension, again the next natural step and much requested by our users. We knew many people were using Chrome, so it was making a lot of sense to have it. Later on, we started to work on the Android app which will be out  soon.

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We saw that your website combines sounds and colors, is there a reason behind that?

Stefano: True. Let’s take an example. Look around you now. We are sitting in a cafe and you hear many sounds, which is actually good if you have to work  since the noises are equalling each other. When the noise  becomes too high or too low, you will start hearing sudden spikes and that’s what brings you out of focus. Here is where the Noisli’s noise part comes in. In your work environment you should always work with a constant amount of noise so to block out the other noises. To stay focused, you need to build a noise environment where you prevent noise spikes. It good to bring you into the zone and make sure you don’t get distracted.

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Sabine: The consistency is important.

Stefano: As for the color part, we took inspiration from the Chromotherapy. Every color is good for something. Like orange and yellow are good for creativity, green is more relaxing, like if you go to a hospital, you would often see green walls because that relaxes people. The chromotherapy is not our main focus as we know users create their sound environments and then work from another tab. But we also have a community of writers for whom the color feature is very useful. It’s calming and bringing them into a zen mode. We also tried to tweak the way it changes, so to make it smooth and give a human touch to the product.

Sabine: As Stefano said, it’s a smaller part, but for our community of writers we know it matters a lot. It has a calming effect. Also for me, when I write on the Noisli text editor, and the background color is for example red, I don’t feel anything special but then when it turns to for example blue I can feel and immediate change in my mood and I feel more inspired.

Stefano: It’s also something differentiating us from the other tools you can find on the market. It’s part of our identity.

The type of sounds available on your website are very different from one to another, how did you source those sounds and why did you choose these ones in particular?

Stefano: The selection process was quite long. We had to really try to understand if those sounds worked for us. I think that was the first step of the choosing criteria.

If you take the seaside sound for instance, you can hear that it has a frequency from one wave to another that is calming. That’s why we chose it. At that time we were testing those sounds with really bad earphones which I think was good because we are very picky when it comes to quality. One day we would love to have our own sounds and record them ourselves, but let’s see.

How is Noisli beneficial to users ? What are the scientific proof behind your product?

Sabine: I think the best benefit is that it helps them to get their work done and get focused no matter where they are. Especially in the more and more demanding society where you are always on the go, oise is becoming more and more an issue giving you a hard time to stay focused on the work you have to do. Music with lyrics is often too distracting because you for example like the song and you start singing or in the case if you don’t like it, you are disturbed by it and want to change it. What we do with Noisli is that we help people to create their own little space and help them to isolate them in order to concentrate better.

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Scientifically speaking, there are scientific researches on the topic, studies which state that background sounds around 50 to  70 decibels keep you active and enhance creativity. There are also studies explaining how certain sounds are beneficial for your productivity level and concentration. We kept in mind  all those studies to build Noisli and find the right sounds.

What’s your personal favorite combos on Noisli :)?

Sabine: Ha! Mine is called Waterfall, a combo of brown noise and rain. It has water stream in it and a bit of single water drops. It feels like being in front of a waterfall. Working from a coworking space myself, when I listen to it, I don’t hear anything else around me anymore, and it’s great. I also like leaves and forest a lot, it’s my morning jam. It helps me to wake up. In the evening, I jump “on a train” or I listen to a crackling fire. The train has this high pace that helps you to stay focused when you are tired.

Stefano: Mine is called “Get Things Done” . It’s for when I need to focus. It’s rain mixed with thunderstorm and leaves. I listen to it at the maximum volume level. Feels like an hurricane.

What are the next big milestones for Noisli?

Sabine: We really aim at being a companion throughout your day. At night, during you sleep, when you commute and at work, wherever that might be. We want our user to be able to enjoy the benefits of Noisli wherever they are.

Stefano: I would also say the launch of our Android app. Not just because we are working on it since a long time, but also because we know this is really a big milestone. We are creating a whole eco-system. Everybody will then be able to use Noisli from any device.

You are now working from the Rainmaking Loft in Berlin. Is it your first coworking space experience ? Why did you choose to work from a coworking space at first ?

Sabine: No it’s not the first time, we were before in the RML Copenhagen. We chose a coworking space because it provides you an office, you can invite people and you are not sitting at home. Also, you just have a lot of opportunities coming from the community. It’s nice to be in an environment where you can meet a lot of people especially when you are new to the city.

Stefano: If you work at home, it’s very difficult, you feel alone developing your startup. It’s a strange feeling. But when you are in a coworking space, you see many other like-minded people and you feel less alone and more normal 🙂 If you have problems, you know you can ask around and find help because someone there probably have experienced this kind of problem before as well.

What would you say the coworking space brought to you as a person and to Noisli?

Sabine: We know that Noisli can really help people inside those spaces in order to focus more. We are always happy when we see people trying it out and getting direct feedback from them. The environment helps you also to meet more people and you are forced to interact with people, in a good way. You are challenged by people.

Stefano: The variety of things you can do and experience is also very cool. We see a lot of people working on many different things and that’s very inspiring for us. You see many stories and that adds value to us and to Noisli.

Last and least, what do you think COWORKIES brings you as a  member of a coworking space?

Stefano: I think COWORKIES can have the potential to link you even more to people around you, which otherwise you maybe would have never interacted with.

Sabine: And this could potentially open the doors to new opportunities for and between the members of coworking spaces around the world.

Thank you guys 🙂

PS: To win a FREE Noisli app, sign up to our campaign and and invite your coworking friends! More info on www.coworkies.com 

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Pauline Roussel

Co-Founder Coworkies. General Manager at Rainmaking Loft Berlin, a #coworking space dedicated to #startups, Ambassador of French Tech Berlin.

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