They go where their startup takes them
April 22, 2021
For the founders of the startup ‘Little Otter’, the prospect of moving to Struer does not scare them away despite their close ties to Aalborg. However, it all comes down to what their business needs.
Despite sounding like a company caring for wild animals, “Little Otter” is the name of a sound tech startup in Sound Hub Denmark – but more on the name later.
Dirk Klijn and Kim Otten are the two founders of Little Otter. Originally from the Netherlands, they have come to Struer to develop their business. After finishing their master’s degrees at Aalborg University, they have made Little Otter their full-time job.
For us, Sound Hub is the only option. For a startup, the distance doesn’t play any role. You’re willing to go
says Dirk Klijn.
The Dutch couple needs help developing their product – sound panels that can hang on the wall and work almost like a regular speaker with Bluetooth. The difference between this product and a regular speaker is that the sound from the sound panel is created by a vibrating piece of wood instead of the usual speaker membrane. This makes for a less bulky speaker, which might fit easier into the interior design.
The idea for wall panels making sound emerged when the couple lived in a small Aalborg apartment. They didn’t have room for the stereotypical prominent “manly” speakers and set out to find a solution.
Sound Hub has been exceptionally open
The first time Dirk Klijn and Kim Otten visited Sound Hub Denmark was a rainy day, and the two initially had a hard time finding the place. But despite this rather gloomy first impression, the couple is overwhelmed by the support they have received from Sound Hub Denmark so far:
I think Sound Hub has been exceptionally open from a business standpoint. Even our mentor was surprised
Dirk Klijn says.
Little Otter have a mentor, who urged them to get in touch with Sound Hub Denmark. Aalborg University and Sound Hub Denmark collaborate, and Little Otter was offered a residency and access to all the testing facilities in Struer free of charge. “We kept asking what we have to do to be here. I think we asked at least three times because we did not get that it was for free,” Kim Otten says and laughs.
Move where it feels right for the startup
One thing is the business side of things. Another is the personal side. One of Kim Otten’s hobbies is doing so-called wheel gymnastics – a discipline often seen in a circus where the artist is doing acrobatics with a big wheel. She is part of a circus group in Aalborg where she can do her sport, but a similar group is harder to come by in Struer.
I got a contact from the local gymnastics club and contacted Struer Energi Park. They are super nice. They are open about the possibilities. If you want to do something, there are options, but you have to work for it
says Kim Otten.
Dirk Klijn, on the other hand, says he would feel alright living in Struer as long as he has access to Lego and a hardware store. At the moment, the couple shares a small rented apartment when they are in Struer, which is on average one out of three days.
However, at the current point of Little Otter’s startup journey, the founders are not spending much time considering where they want to live but rather where they have to live.
“In the end, I would say that if you have a startup, you follow what the startup needs. So if the startup requires us to move here to Struer, we would,” Kim Otten says and adds that they do like the surroundings of Struer.
The couple has a small garden house in Aalborg, and a big reason for keeping it and spending their weekends in Aalborg is the friends they have made during their studies in the city. On the other hand, they do not think it is impossible also to make friends in Struer.
“If we would have come from the Netherlands straight to Struer, I think we would have made the same friends, it is just that we spent two years in Aalborg, and we created a community there and friends there,” Kim Otten says.
So far, they have already made one friend facilitated by the municipality of Struer. They were introduced to a new employee at Bang & Olufsen, who also comes from a foreign country and works in Struer, which has made an impression.
They are actively trying to make you happy, also if you are not from this tiny community where everyone knows everyone
Kim Otten says.
So, in the end, it is still up in the air what the future brings for Little Otter, whose name, by the way, is a mix of the last names of the two founders. “Klijn” means “little” in Dutch, and “Otten” sounds a little bit like “Otter”. “And it makes for a cute logo,” Dirk Klijn says with a smile.
Since we wrote the article, Little Otter I/S has moved their business unit to Struer.
See more about Little Otter and their products here