The company founded by Marie Lindqvist-Pahlstad and Jenny Helldén soon started to make waves in the Swedish furniture industry. How could these two former colleagues, who had never run a company or even designed a piece of furniture, establish a company and achieve such an impact after only six months?
The answer today, more than 15 years later, is just as obvious as it was then. Zilenzio offers a unique feature – one that they know the customers want. This makes it easy to sell. Not only that, but the two have stuck to their decision to make this journey in their own particular way.
“Open-plan offices became more popular and many customers came to my previous employer looking for sound-absorbing screens. We started our own company and contacted Pontus Thorsson, who was conducting research into acoustics at Chalmers University of Technology. He helped us with product development. Together with a skilled craftsman at Frendins Snickeri in Fjugesta, Joakim Frendin, we managed to develop a sound-absorbing screen and present it at the Stockholm Furniture Fair just a few months later. It attracted customers immediately, and we were at the same time learning how to run a company,” says Marie Lindqvist-Pahlstad, CEO and one of the founders of Zilenzio.
The company started in a basement in Örebro, which it took over just as it was, with a much-needed storage space, offices and a postal address. The premises became a temporary base, between customer meetings all over Sweden. It was here they learned all there was to know about sound, kept the books, placed orders with suppliers, created catalogues, and experimented with the design of sound absorbers. In addition to Pontus and Joakim, they obtained help in product development from both customers and the technicians. It was thus, for example, that the screens were fitted with feet that can be mounted without tools. They strove to achieve professionalism at every level, convinced that this was the way to meet customer needs. During the first year, Marie and Jenny travelled to customer meetings together. The following year, they bought a car each, divided Sweden between them, and doubled their sales.
“When we started employing people, we agreed that we should create a healthy corporate culture. Everyone at Zilenzio feels good about working here. We look after each other and focus on training, health and our core activities. Our employees are our ambassadors,” says Jenny Helldén, CFO and one of the founders.
The company is still based in Örebro. The basement has been exchanged for a house, refurbished to suit the needs of the company and provide an excellent work environment for the employees.
Their relationship with product developer Pontus Thorsson has become closer as the years have passed. And now, acclaimed company Note Design Studio helps with design. Their business idea has stood the test of time. Marie and Jenny are now well-established in the industry and are in control of a well-known, popular, professional and caring organisation with products acknowledged by all to be the best.
“We sell functionality; we always will. That’s where no-one can beat us. Any other approach would not be sustainable, honest or credible,” says Marie Lindqvist-Pahlstad.