Endel, the sound wellness company that offers ground-breaking functional soundscapes to its users, has closed a $15 million Series B funding round. Bringing total investment in the company to more than $22 million since it was founded in 2018, the latest round was led by Waverley Capital and True Ventures. Endel plans to continue to scale its innovative product, further developing its award-winning technology as well as its collaborations with artists to enhance their functional sound.
A different approach to founding
Oleg Stavitsky, CEO and co-founder of Endel, spoke with TFN about why it was different to other wellness apps and the ambient sounds that feature on streaming services. A big difference is in the company itself.
“We have six co-founders, which is very unusual in tech,” Stavitsky explains, “but it’s the same team I have worked with over seven years.” The team had previously launched the award-winning children’s digital art app, BUBL, in 2012 and remained together as the app was acquired, then acquired again, before they started searching for something new in 2017. And that was when the idea behind Endel was born.
“All of the smart speakers started popping up, which meant the sound was becoming increasingly viral. It was following you everywhere,” Stavitsky said. “It was clear that the time had come for a few new formats that may not necessarily be music or podcasts. We were looking at the trends of all the functional music playlists on Spotify and Apple Music, and that category was clearly growing even in 2017.” This new market seemed like a continuation of their previous work. “Even the BUBL app always dealt with the correlation of colour form and sound, we built a lot of sound generation technology; you could draw in those some of those apps, and they would generate a real-time musical composition.”
They had already developed a prototype when a meeting with Bob Moczydlowsky, the MD of Techstars Music, resulted in a move to Los Angeles to develop the application further.
A different type of sound app
Endel is designed to be very different to the ambient sounds available on music subscription services. The popularity of noises highlights how they have become the easiest way for someone to control their environment, and the noises are frequently simple, loops of natural sounds like rain or waves. But Stavitsky notes that it is not the specific sound chosen that benefits listeners, he says, “I’m not listening to dishwasher sounds because I like the sound of a dishwasher, but because of the sonic properties of that sound.”
Endel uses a range of factors, from the time of the day to the user’s movement and heart rate, to create a personalised functional soundscape. And they are confident of the impact, funding peer-reviewed research to establish the value of their personalised content compared to generic recorded noises. Stavitsky believes that it gives Endel an edge, putting them in a market category of their own — functional sound — that no one else is operating in.
Waverley Capital’s General Partner, Edgar Bronfman Jr, also noted Endel’s strong position. “Functional sound is a massive market that is growing daily. With its unique patented technology, published and peer-reviewed scientific validation, and accessible products, Endel is uniquely positioned to own a large portion of this space.”
Stavitsky also believes that it means Endel is democratising wellness. Instead of competing against apps like Calm or Headspace, Endel complements them, being able to be played in the background while still having an effect. “Democratising wellness is our mission. Wellness has become very elitist: it’s people saying you ‘Oh, you’re stressed, you should meditate’. What they actually mean is that you should make the time in your life for mindfulness meditation,” Stavitsky explains. “But for a lot of people, that is just not possible. Think of a frontline worker, like a nurse, working fourteen- or sixteen-hour shifts. They don’t have the time or capacity to mediate. They need something to help them relax straight away.”
Reaching more people with better sound
As well as research, Endel is also planning to expand its collaborations. They are working with Grammy-winning artist James Blake, helping them expand their range as well as attract new users. They will also be expanding their team, currently 50-strong, to enhance their research and development capacity.
But their main focus will be on expanding their user base, with over a million active users, collectively listening to one-and-a-half million hours each month, Stavitsky is confident they can increase that to number to tens of millions. “It’s scientifically engineered, scientifically validated content,” he says. “We are uniquely positioned to own this market.”