#StartupsEverywhere Profile: David Krauss, Co-Founder, NoiseAware
This profile is part of #StartupsEverywhere, an ongoing series highlighting startup leaders in ecosystems across the country. This interview has been edited for length, content, and clarity.
Want to Make Noise? Make Advocacy Part of Your Startup's Business Plan
Building a business plan can be challenging, but David Krauss, Co-Founder of NoiseAware, believes most startups are missing one key feature - advocacy. David has advocacy ingrained into NoiseAware’s culture. By embracing advocacy as a main focus, NoiseAware has built strong relationships with policymakers and in turn, has brought additional notoriety to his growing startup and developed new partnerships.
Tell me about you. Why did you start NoiseAware?
Three years ago, I rented out my short term rental on Airbnb to a guest who was coming to stay at my place for a "quiet weekend". I soon found out from my building’s lawyer that my renters had a party. I realized if I was able to get ahead of noise, I would not have had a problem.
That's when I met Andrew Schulz who is an electrical engineer. We built what we call "The Smoke Detector for Noise". The sensor monitors noise and alerts the host or responsible party when it is too loud for too long. In today’s culture, we are able to use the internet of things to create smarter homes. In turn, it helps with the sharing economy.
How are you disrupting the market?
Airbnb has created a disruptive technology to change how people think about renting. However, sometimes the disruption is too much and needs to be tampered down. That’s where NoiseAware comes in. NoiseAware and other innovations can do what legislation cannot. Solving new-age technology problems with other new-age technology.
Why did you get started in Dallas?
Dallas is an easy place to start a business. I grew up in Boston, but Dallas has less hoops to jump through and more resources. We have grown our company to 12 right now and are expanding to 14. For us, timing was everything. NoiseAware was an obvious solution to a growing problem.
Why should startups get involved with advocacy?
Most startups do not see advocacy as their first priority, but we led with advocacy. Advocacy is a great platform to start your business. It gives small businesses the opportunity to work with large and established companies.
For example, we partnered with HomeAway. We secured a contract and did research for HomeAway’s advocacy team. The contract helped accelerate our business. My recommendation is to find a big company that you are useful to. Government affairs folks are resourceful and embrace working with smaller companies. No company is too big or small when it comes to advocacy.
Can you tell me more about RentResponsibly.org?
Rent Responsibly was created to give a much needed voice to short-term vacation rental supporters. The Rent Responsibly movement began in November 2016 when the NoiseAware Team rented a winnebago to drive from Seattle to Los Angeles, parking in front of city halls along the way. We stopped in seven cities in seven days. We used the winnebago to do demos and invited lawmakers and customers alike to meet with us. They could see how NoiseAware really works.
Dubbed the Rent Responsibly Tour, the inaugural road trip kicked off conversations and connections that culminated in the creation of the Rent Responsibly movement that continues to grow today. The mission then is the same as the mission today: to promote, protect and celebrate our industry.
We made a lot of noise.
From your experience, what advice do you have for startups when working with lawmakers?
You have to do the homework to understand what their specific local issues are. You have to understand the context. For us, we think about whether the community is familiar with short-term rentals, is it urban, suburban or a vacation community. Something else to think about is whether or not there is legislation already or if there is nothing.
When meeting with lawmakers, you should know that everyone in the room is solution-oriented. When communicating with an elected official or city staff, you can present a solution and they are usually interested. Just like talking to press, it is a normal person on the other side of the line. You just need a substantive solution.
Have you expanded into other markets?
We have thought about expanding into new markets. We are working with cities directly to design a pilot for more efficient noise management. There are usually noise issues with construction sites or bars/clubs. However, cities have limited resources and can’t have people as noise monitors 24/7 to enforce code.
From a policy perspective, do you have any wishlist items for the startup ecosystem?
All short term rentals should be required to have NoiseAware. Just kidding, but that would be good for business.
For startups, access to capital is huge. But we have not ever asked for anything from local government. We’ve worked with the Small Business Administration to identify resources and do market research.