Life changes fast. What worked for your business at one point in time may not work so well a few years down the road, especially after important changes. David Ciccarelli realized that his business needed to change both for his customers and his family. Voices.com was born from this need. We sat down with David to learn about what Voices.com is and where he sees his business going in the next few years.
Why did you start your business?
When I first started my business, I provided professional audio recording and production services to local bands and musical artists in a loft apartment in the heart of downtown London, Ontario, Canada. Studio sessions were typically held in the evening to accommodate the recording artists and could often run later than 11:00 p.m. While this arrangement was okay for a bachelor, I quickly realized that this lifestyle and means of serving customers wouldn't work well once I got married. My wife and I knew that we needed to make a change and fast, especially with our first child on the way. His birth served as a catalyst for moving to a new home, changing the way we served customers and even who those customers were. Our business went from recording musicians to recording voice-overs from our own home recording studio. After a year of doing that, we saw the potential for connecting businesses with talent, then making the shift to operating an online marketplace for voice talent.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners?
Voices.com has lit a fire in the hearts of early adopters, and also under the tails of executives struggling to maintain the glories of a passing regime. Voices.com recognizes the need for integration with existing industry personalities and reaches out and seeks to help them make the transition and succeed in the new marketplace, a strategy that any entrepreneur can learn and implement for themselves.
If you’re looking for a niche market, find one that has a fragmented industry where you can identify people who work independently and pull them together. You position yourself as the expert, plant the flag in the ground and announce that you’re the leader. Achieving credibility with an industry shakeup is critical. It’s important to get yourself aligned with established industry players, and look for leaders within those customer groups.
We built trust and relationships, and truly value those we work with. You need to be accepted in the community by its leaders before you can start to make a meaningful contribution buoyed by their support and public endorsement. Entrepreneurs need to identify influencers who want to make a positive impact and help to promote the new direction the industry is going in. These are people who have their own networks, and who can help build up your business. Entrepreneurs also need to take the appropriate steps to position themselves as leaders in the industry they are working to serve or change.
We feel our experience is something that other entrepreneurs, in almost any industry, can learn from and apply to their own ventures.
How did you revolutionize the 100-year-old industry?
At the beginning of the dot com boom, while our audio recording business was experiencing a shift, we found out that the business of connecting voice-over artists with ad agencies, broadcasters and others who hire them was a legacy industry that had yet to be digitized. That was the “aha!” moment.
Voices.com is cutting edge, and for many in traditional circles, is considered a disruptive technology and a disruptive business model. We fully embraced the new frontier of voice over, while capitalizing on the finest in creative design and remarkable usability. The team at Voices.com has built a fortress upon industry knowledge, superior customer service, and relationships with key players in support of our vision. The concept of going direct to talent and negotiating without an agent’s intercession is alien to many, although the same people realize that it is only a matter of time before their roles need to evolve or become obsolete. Today, Voices.com is home to over 225,000 voice actors and clients from around the world and is the industry leader.
What is Voices.com and what makes it unique?
Originally started on a napkin at the kitchen table, Voices.com, a London, Ontario-based technology company, is the world’s #1 marketplace that connects businesses with professional voice-over talent. Within just 10 short years, the company is broadly recognized as a leader by stakeholders including customers, partners, service providers, vendors, media and local community organizations.
Where do you see your business in the next 5-10 years?
Over the next 10 years, we intend to transform an industry that has traditionally been centered in two geographies, New York City for advertising and Hollywood for film, animation and movie trailers. This transformation began 10 years ago when we first launched Voices.com, a marketplace that connects creative producers from around the world with professional voice actors.
Continuing to grow our company by expanding into new vertical markets as well as offering voice-overs in other languages, supported by language-specific versions of our website and mobile apps is our modus operandi.
Looking out 5-10 years is difficult in any environment, particularly so when it involves Internet-based businesses. At Voices.com, we face a unique challenge with emerging text-to-speech technologies replacing the need for human narrators to read everything from books to e-learning programs and even news broadcasts. In the foreseeable future, text-to-speech is best positioned for sound bites and audio information bursts – not long-form content such as audiobooks or educational material.