Olo delivers the perfect sonic recharge for today’s office worker
Knowledge work of today is all about creative problem-solving – but we are having difficulty finding the mental space for focus and flow. Studies show that creativity narrows down under pressure, while stress prevents presence and proper rest. Startup Olo joined Health Incubator Helsinki in 2022 and is on a mission to re-energize office workers.
Finnish startup Olo is developing an app to better manage the turmoil in the heads of the creative class. CEO Markus Pesonen explains that the Olo app is meant to build resilience by training a person’s attention and recovery.
Olo delivers personalized wellbeing experiences, complete with immersive sound journeys, engaging somatic education and responsive biofeedback training.
“We have the audio content, software and wellbeing expertise all available inhouse,” explains Pesonen, an award-winning composer, sound designer and producer with a 20-year experience leading creative projects and teams.
When audio is king
The signature content of Olo is formed by soothing soundscapes which have been recorded in nature, in special places of “high biodiversity”.
“Most of our recordings are from Finland, but we’ve got audio content from elsewhere in Europe and Africa, too,” says Pesonen.
During the pandemic, the audio content was tested – remotely – in various companies to find out, if the healing and elevating sounds would help take some Covid-stress off the worker bees at the home office. Turns out, they did.
“We got great feedback for our content. For example, somebody said that five minutes of our sound journey felt like 60 minutes of rejuvenating break. We then started to figure out a way to integrate our content to an app,” Pesonen says.
CEO Markus Pesonen
Wellbeing apps on the rise
According to estimates, the mental health apps market is around $890 million and growing rapidly. With perhaps a billion knowledge workers out there, it’s certainly true that there is great potential for stress-free sounds.
“So far, we’ve analyzed the feedback of over 5,000 paid users,” says Pesonen.
The positive results from being immersed in the “total audio experience” show physical relaxation, mental clarity, relieving stress and pain, understanding aspects of oneself, deepened sense of presence and awareness, better emotional expression and social inclusion…
“The key thing is re-energizing the neurological network and measuring the impact. Once we start getting data, this allows for more personalized and meaningful content,” he explains.
Go-to-market in 2023
Pesonen’s initial company Nature Solutions for B2B wellbeing solutions was started in December 2017, and he already had an idea for the app at the time.
“However, I didn’t want to proceed right then, even if the first wave of mental health apps was occurring then. We wanted to wait until we could use AI to make it more customized.”
With the prototype already making the rounds with select partners, the actual go-to-market is in the cards for 2023.
“We want to contribute to establishing a premium category of wellbeing apps, with full onboarding and community services, along with interaction with peers and professionals.”
Coffee break or audio break?
Pesonen wants to help nurture a working culture where it’s OK for knowledge workers to take a break from the laptop and recharge their brain.
“For all creative work, really deep, intense thinking delivers the best value. Our app helps to harness that innovative potential.”
Being part of Health Incubator Helsinki batch of 2022, Olo is pleased to engage within the health startup ecosystem.
“I feel that we’re still in the beginning of our journey, but we’re picking up speed nicely.”
Startup Fast Facts:
Product: Personalised wellbeing app and community that uses soothing soundscapes to bring down stress levels and re-energize the listener
Team size: 6
Target customer/market: Knowledge/office workers over the world
Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Nature Solutions