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Endrus Arge, CEO and Founder of Silen Space: When the product is of good quality, the selling is not difficult

Every person working in an open office has probably experienced some moments when they would just like to switch off the surrounding sounds in order to make an uninterrupted phone call or to have a meeting. The soundproof phone booth and meeting pod concept of Silen Space enables exactly that. Today, the barely year-old start-up is successfully taking over the world with its pods being used in the offices of Amazon, Adidas, Maersk and many other large corporations. Spotify actually bought the products that were showcased in a trade show and is ordering more. We spoke to Endrus Arge, the CEO of the company, about Silen’s journey.

What is your journey, how did Silen get started, how did you reach that seemingly simple idea – to produce silence pods?

Silen grew out of an Estonian enterprise Wallenium where we understood already in 2006 that a product like that attracts a lot of attention. A clear need arouse in 2011 when we were building silence pods for up to 4 people for one of our Finnish clients. Already back in the day our pods had good air circulation and soundproofing but they looked like regular boxes.

In 2017 we decided to create a new, modular concept for the product, and this is how the product family Space was born and what we are offering at Silen today. The wheels under the pods kind of appeared in the process but have turned out to be a unique feature. It was actually a surprise for everyone that this product segment had not thought of such a simple thing before.

I guess one can say that Silen is selling silence. In today’s noisy world, it is probably a product that is in high demand. How many competitors do you have? How big a player are you on a global scale?

Exactly, we sell silence. Technically, we also sell privacy which is generally a big problem in open offices. By now we have experienced that there is a bigger demand than we can meet. In the autumn of 2017 we counted about 50 competitors but there are definitely more. On a global scale we are a beginner but are currently growing fast.

What makes your product special?

The biggest difference between the other products and Silen’s phone booths and meeting pods is the latter’s mobility and also the ability the grow them bigger by adding pod modules or making the pods smaller by removing them. Putting it simply, one can start with a pod that fits a few people and as the company grows, grow the pod to a meeting space that fits the new size needed. That being said, one needs not to worry about the lack of fresh air since every module is equipped with an individual and fully automated air circulation system.

Many companies speak about modularity, but that usually means modules that need an installation team for rearranging them, and that is a direct cost. All Silen pods come on wheels which creates a fully new dimension when it comes to rearranging the pods in space and reconfiguring the pod modules – everyone can do it within minutes. When moving to a new space, you can can dismantle the pod and take it with you. We made it brilliantly simple.

What has helped you to come this far and to already have distributors across the world?

Firstly, both Wallenium’s and Silen’s teams have been very driven and hardworking. One can’t also undermine the work done by the design agency Velvet with whose help we have created an ace online environment and worked diligently with the user experience of the product as a service. The user journey design is becoming more and more important, and we have benefited a lot in relation to that from the seminars and workshops taken place in cooperation with Enterprise Estonia. The rest of it is just work and constant proving that we can provide a high-quality, world-class product and a service.

How was the Silen brand born and how did you market yourself?

We found the name for the brand in cooperation the with design agency Velvet and it was a very interesting process. We are technically selling silence which is also hinted in the name, and this is what we see to be the core of our brand or even more, our brand promise. In today’s noisy world silence is a huge value. We can focus in silence. And when you can focus, you can create. Of course, we also offer additional value to the silence or the privacy which all together gives a lot back to the user in a very short time.

When it comes to marketing we are mainly using the possibilities of the internet and of the social media but we consider our users to be our best marketeers, together with our distributors. For the latter we have developed powerful digital tools that support all Silen’s distributors across the world.

Based on your experience, is it difficult to sell a product made in Estonia? Is the country of origin even a thing?

Judging by Silen’s experience the selling is not difficult when you have a high-quality product with outstanding characteristics.

You are probably the best expert to say how to market silence. In a way it feels as surreal as the idea to start selling water in the shops felt back in the day.

Marketing silence is like breathing, we usually do not think about the necessity but it is natural. So we opt for simplicity.

Your pods look quite Apple-like. Was that intentional and has this similarity helped you in any way?

This has not been the intention. Rather, it has been empirical but we are still following the design of our first prototype which we created already in 2006.

What has the first year with a new product taught you?

When you have an excellent product, selling it can be surprisingly easy.

What is the biggest challenge you are facing today? Where is Silen in a year’s time?

We believe we will still be in Tallinn. From one hand, the biggest challenge is involving talents in Silen’s team. From the other, it is the production development in the conditions of the fast-growing sales volumes while not making any concessions when it comes to the quality of the product and the service.

This story was first published by Edasi.org magazine. 

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