In our latest Founder Feature, we talk to Sophie Bolzer, CEO and founder of Audvice
While completing her Master’s degree in Strategic Management, Sophie Bolzer had the idea of an audio crowdsourcing platform for students to help them improve their learning outcomes. She founded Audvice in 2018, navigating her dedicated team through 2 pivots to finally reach product market fit as a B2B SaaS product.
Read more about Sophie Bolzer’s remarkable founder journey below.
Q: Who are you and what is your story?
I’m Sophie, the founder and CEO of Audvice, the first audio learning tool for businesses. When I started Audvice my initial idea was to create an audio learning platform for students, where they can record, share and listen to their study material in form of playlists and tracks. Today it’s a totally different target group and approach but the mission stayed the same: we believe that what it really takes to make people share and process the most relevant knowledge on-demand is to make it as easy and convenient as possible. And that’s what we do with the power of audio.
It all started when I was studying at university and spent a lot of time driving, a few hours every week. I desperately needed that time for learning. Since I couldn’t find any podcasts or audiobooks related to my exams, I ended up doing my own voice recordings and listened back to them while I was driving. Once I found out that my fellow students were doing the same thing, I thought it’s a pity that no one is sharing it. And that’s why I founded Audvice.
Last year we applied with Audvice for Red Bull Basement, a global initiative inviting students to pitch their ideas for tech projects and won. The experience taught me a lot about pitching, helped us make high profile connections and confirmed Audvice’s potential.
Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?
We just launched Audvice for corporates and started strong with two Fortune500 companies as customers. What we aim to achieve is to make knowledge transfer in teams actually work with audio. We will help teams of any size to learn better and faster, to be more focused, efficient and successful in what they do.
Q: What is the core technology driving your start-up’s product/service?
We have combined the best of Spotify and voice recording in one single convenient application that allows everyone to create professional audio content right where you want to consume it.
Just as TikTok makes it easy to create and share engaging videos, we make it as easy to record and share relevant knowledge, expertise and insights as playlists and tracks. There’s no need to know anything about audio file formats and how to convert them, no need to be a professional podcaster and no need to deal with five different tools.
There’s no easier way to digitize and retain knowledge within your company, but still make it personal, engaging and deliver the right tone of voice. Audvice works as a SaaS solution where you can set up and manage your own audio library for your team, business, community or corporation.
Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
The variety of possible use cases. We’ve seen, or actually heard, students using Audvice to prepare for presentations or exams, we’ve seen teachers using it to do flipped learning, sales reps reporting on their local markets, team leads providing software onboarding or product training managers giving bite-sized interviews on strategic direction. Our team uses it to share competitor and market research on demand, to document feature ideas and have even started using Audvice to make meetings more efficient by pitching the agenda and ideas as a playlist beforehand.
On the one hand, this gives you a huge market potential, on the other hand, it makes it harder to keep your focus and nail down your target group and messaging. What is also exciting to see is that people listen to Audvice in all kinds of situations: while driving, cooking, cleaning, eating, doing sports, even while taking a bubble bath. Obviously not a romantic time, but an insightful one. This validates our value proposition, that Audvice really fits into your day and lets you spend dead time more productively.
Q: What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
Audvice is a market-ready product that is already deployed by two Fortune500 companies in 10+ countries. So far our team has been taking care of the setup and user management process for our customers. In the next 12 months, we aim to make Audvice fully scalable as a self-service SaaS solution to also help smaller teams leveraging the power of audio to learn faster and better. We will soon launch a special program, where we invite selected teams of 10 to 100 people to use our tool for internal training, knowledge management and communication on-demand. If you’re interested please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What made you decide to take on the challenge of founding your business?
Looking back, somehow I always knew that I would want to become an entrepreneur someday. I did a few internships while I was studying and realized that being employed would take me ages to get to a position where I could really realize my own ideas. Also, I’m not very patient once I figure out that I want something.
When an idea crosses your mind for the first time you tend to be very enthusiastic, thinking this could be world-changing, feeling the urge to do it. Most of the time this feeling fades after a while, but with this idea it never did. In fact, the more I worked on the idea, the more excited I got. So I needed to give it a shot. I really believed that this could become something big and I still do. I was convinced that if I’m not the one making this idea happen, then somebody else is going to. I’m not afraid of making mistakes. I’m afraid of regretting not trying and ending up thinking “what if?”
Q: Can you tell us who your mentors and heroes are, and what impact they’ve had on you?
It’s hard to name one or two mentors specifically. I seek advice, inspiration and insights from all kinds of people, try to process them and make them my own. I believe it’s important to benchmark with the best and not the average, but you need to be well aware of what best means for you. I find role models in successful founders, managers and investors, but also in friends and family members. Sometimes it’s Elon Musk who triggers my thoughts and gets me back on track. Sometimes it’s my mom.
I try to find support from people who I highly identify with and I seize every opportunity to connect with people who are totally different from me in order to learn from them. But what really keeps me going in the end, is to have people who believe in you. I’ve always found that in my family, friends and colleagues and that’s what I truly consider the biggest impact because that’s what makes you persistent no matter how difficult it might sometimes be.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?
Don’t get intimidated by anything or anyone, because it limits you. Along the way, you might be talking to people who matter, who have much more power, experience or money than you. But that doesn’t change anything about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. In the end, they are only normal people with opinions, just like you. If you let yourself get intimidated by them you tend to be more reluctant, insecure and less convincing. That’s the opposite of what you want. You want to be self-confident and persuasive. The best way to achieve that is to be well prepared and to know as much as you possibly can about your product, your target group, your numbers, your market, your competitors and your biggest challenges because knowledge always is power.
Find out more about Sophie Bolzer and Audvice here: www.audvice.com