© Vocalisto

Vocalisto: A mobile rehearsal room for all singers

From Taylor Swift to the local church choir, singers, just like any other musician, need to practise regularly. However, if you haven't just been named "Person of the Year", you can annoy the neighbors with your vocal exercises. But, rehearsal rooms are expensive and rare. The Munich-based startup Vocalisto has come up with a solution that is not only handy and mobile, but also offers various additional functions. In this interview, founder Gerd Birzele explains how his mobile rehearsal room works and how it can help amateur musicians in particular to overcome inhibitions.

Munich Startup: What does Vocalisto do? What problem do you solve?

Gerd Birzele, Vocalisto: With our mobile rehearsal room, we enable singers to pursue their passion anytime and anywhere without disturbing other people.

The problem we are solving is that in Germany alone, over 3 million singers want to practice regularly at home and are unable to do so as flexibly as they would like due to a lack of adequate sound insulation. As a result, some get into trouble with neighbors or are worried about making audible mistakes and sometimes even stop altogether. This situation has been exacerbated by the increase in working from home.

Our solution, the mobile rehearsal room consisting of a sound-absorbing face mask and the associated mobile app, provides privacy and flexibility for singers. The first step is to insulate sound to the outside against other people, but also to the inside to protect vocal recordings from external noise. The singer can listen to themselves using headphones and also mix and record songs live.

Vocalisto combines sound insulation, integrated recording and location independence

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Gerd Birzele, Vocalisto: The classic option is a stationary rehearsal room, often rented somewhere. The problem here is the limited availability of such rooms. This is often accompanied by the long distance between home and the room, or other artists with whom you have to share the room. This dependency and the resulting lack of flexibility is often the reason why people want and need to practice at home.

Existing sound insulation solutions for the home have high space requirements, sometimes a complex and fixed installation and expensive prices. This is usually not possible in a city apartment. 

Our solution is the first to combine sound insulation, integrated recording and location independence. This means you can also practice while traveling and directly before a performance, and there is no problem if you have to move. Users can even take our mobile rehearsal room with them in a backpack or handbag.

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?

Gerd Birzele, Vocalisto: I’ve been a musician for over 20 years and, as the singer in our band, I had the problem that when I moved to Munich, I no longer had our band room nearby for practicing. To prepare for studio appointments or gigs, I would even sit in my car from time to time.

When looking for a solution for the apartment, I was disappointed by the space requirements and the effort involved in installation. At some point, I came up with the idea of making the whole thing much smaller and more mobile. After building the first prototypes, I teamed up with a fellow founder in 2021, who is unfortunately no longer with us for professional reasons. In many months of development work and customer tests, we were able to validate our hypotheses and bring the basic principle of the mask and app to the point where we can now plan the next step of market entry.

The challenge of finding co-founders

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Gerd Birzele, Vocalisto: At the beginning, the technical challenge was to implement sound insulation in a very limited space in such a way that it is effective on the one hand and at the same time does not impair wearing comfort, sound or breathing. We managed this balancing act through multiple iterations and tests with a variety of materials and design principles – from lab tests to intensive customer testing. Tools such as AI design and 3D printing have enabled us to quickly implement new ideas. Thanks to extremely constructive feedback, we were ultimately able to find a very useful solution for our customers.

The topics of financing and finding co-founders naturally pose further challenges. Finding good people who not only have the right skills but are also at the right time in their lives to start a company and take the associated risk, is quite demanding. Interested readers are welcome to contact us at Gerd.Birzele@vocalisto.com.

“An established brand and platform for experienced singers and beginners alike”

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, where would you like to be in five years?

Gerd Birzele, Vocalisto: In a year’s time, we want to be represented on the market with our mobile rehearsal room and then use even more customer feedback to optimize our solution and our offering in its entirety.

In the longer term, we aim to be an established brand and platform for experienced singers and beginners alike. With our solutions, we want to make an important contribution to making singing accessible to everyone. Regardless of life situation or supposed talent, everyone should be able to experience progress in singing with joy and ease. We want to enable people to live out their passion for singing in the long term.

In addition, new customer groups such as podcast creators and online gamers will also play a role for us.

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Gerd Birzele, Vocalisto: As a very active and lively location. There are countless networking events here, opportunities to exchange ideas with experts and creative minds from startups to established companies. The support landscape is also a very valuable factor in Munich. We had our first partner in the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship at Munich University of Applied Sciences, which provided us with coaching as well as financial support. As a hardware startup, this was essential for us to progress very early on. Industry-specific offers are also worth their weight in gold for a market entry, which is why we are super happy to have recently been accepted into the Wavelab Incubator of the Munich University of Music and Performing Arts. Overall, Munich is highly recommended as a start-up location.

Munich Startup: Quick exit or staying power?

Gerd Birzele, Vocalisto: At the moment, both are conceivable. It is important for us to be able to help customers with our services in the long term. If this goal can be better achieved through a partner with established implementation structures, then we’d be happy to do so.