Last Updated on November 19, 2020
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About David Ciccarelli
David is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Voices.com. He’s a graduate of the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology and is enrolled at Harvard Business School. David writes about his experiences in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company and Entrepreneur.
Voices.com was founded in 2005 by David and his wife Stephanie to match voice talent with businesses looking to add voiceovers to their work. “We had a few dozen people already on our site, and we stayed up till three or four in the morning emailing people from Yahoo Directories when we launched. We woke up to find $5,000 in our PayPal account.”
How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
Voices.com has recently acquired more than 1 million members from over 160 countries around the world.
He advises entrepreneurs to remember that a business is really a group of people working towards a common cause. “Our mission is to be a trusted destination connecting businesses to voice talent. How do you build trust? Spend time with customers. Don’t have limits on how long you can speak on the phone. Be quick, and give great service. If the traditional agency model for voiceover work is based on relationships, then we have to build great relationships with our customers, and they won’t turn away.”
How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
The company actually started out as Interactive Voices, which Ciccarelli says was confusing. “We actually had someone complain that their fingers got tired typing it out, the name was so long.” The first challenge their team faced was rebranding to something more memorable. “Voices.com was originally owned by a medical journal called ‘Silencing the Critical Voices in your Head,’ and it was registered in 1998, but untouched since 2000. Our lawyer reached out to the owner, and he wanted $50,000. We went to everyone we knew, and tried to raise money, but had trouble. We counter-offered at $30,000, paid out in $5,000 increments. He accepted, we started rebranding immediately.”
What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
One of the biggest lessons David and his team learned was how to market the product. Voices.com sent out an ambitious postcard campaign through letter mail which cost them around $30,000, and got very few responses. “Trying to get somebody to change channels – getting something physical in the mail, then turn on their computer, then visit our site and enter their email – it was just way too much of a hassle. If you’re going to advertise, do it in the same channel that you sell.”
What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
Operating a two-sided marketplace is tremendously difficult. Far from the wishful thinking of “build it and they will come”, online marketplaces require solving a real-world problem, then building up both supply and demand simultaneously. To do so effectively, you need to create positive network effects. This is the phenomenon whereby each users adds value to all previous users. This concept has allowed us to grow faster than competitors who have spent their time and attention focused on other areas.
What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
A highlight was raising $18M from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital based in Silicon Valley.
What Are Your Favorite Books?
Anything You’d Like To Plug?
Allow me to mention our company, Voices.com. Voices.com is a freelance marketplace that helps business hire creative talent such as voice actors, translators, audio editors and music producers.
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