David Ciccarelli is the founder of Voices.com, a net service that connects business individuals with skilled singers.
Introduction: Welcome Everyone and Welcome to the Success Harbor Podcast with George Meszaros, Where The whole lot Is. how success is completed to you.
Port of Success: Hi everyone, this is George Meszaros with the Port of Success and I’ve David Ciccarelli with me, he’s the founder of Voices.com. Voices.com is a web-based marketplace that connects enterprise individuals with professional audio. Welcome.
David Ciccarelli: Hi George, thanks for getting me. It's nice to be within the present at the moment.
Success Port: So Bred originally organically fairly a lot, or whether or not there’s in strategy?
David Ciccarelli: I didn't go to faculty for enterprise besides I had it in my blood, I feel I used to be a kid who urged his mother and father for buying and selling in storage and lemonade racks and hockey cards. To be trustworthy, I don't assume we had a entire advertising strategy to grow our enterprise, so it was undoubtedly very organic. One of many tactical things we did to get the first group of customers is, you undoubtedly have to tell your audience who it’s, and we did it by going by means of the Yahoo Directory. At the moment, the Yahoo Listing – we're going again to 2004 – have been these properly organized lists of hand-picked, editorially-selected good websites for individuals to have businesses in that vertical market. The Yahoo Directory still exists, however what we did again then was actually going web site by website, in a very logical and methodical order and only inviting individuals to sign up and do it on each side of the market, so name that on the availability aspect and then the demand aspect , the place there have been shoppers who needed to rent talent. We did the identical thing once we rolled out the record of ad businesses and video manufacturing corporations and stated just “hey, in case you are in search of audio in your subsequent video, think about using Voices.com. I have to point out George, if attainable we didn't really begin as Voices.com, the company was referred to as Interactive Voices, so it's a bit multiplied. Can I inform you a fast story about how we obtained the area?
Port of Success: Sure, I'm going to point out that it's a nice domain and I asked you this is the first thought that got here to my mind? Please share. It's a great area, is it nearly as good as it is right?
David Ciccarelli: We all know for positive, because that's what we do in one phrase. As I discussed, we started with interactivevoices.com, so it's a bit massive and your profile would have been george.interactivevoices, com. We in all probability had about ten thousand individuals utilizing the location at the time, and it was at the peak of the community to the porn shop, Flicker began out and Twitter and all these corporations are framing their identify with vowels in clear bubble colours. It made me assume that Interactivevoices is this long identify, literally individuals complained about being uninterested in writing it so much and didn't know if it was a single or plural or simply interactive or new movies, so it was type of boxing for us. So, I had made a little effort to change my identify, and actually, I made a $ 100,000 supply to vox.com that didn't undergo. I looked at voxio and vox and all these different variations of it and nothing worked very properly. I noticed that perhaps it's not a entire identify change and renaming, however what if we might simply mock the interactive half and hold simply voices.com. So I did what in all probability lots of you’ve got accomplished, just go to the tackle bar or Google and sort domain, and resulted in a medical journal referred to as "Critical Voices in the Head", so that is a psychology paper on constructive self-talk and doubtless had about a thousand bulletins, hadn't been up to date since 2000, and was originally registered in 1998. So very previous , a well-established area. The excellent news is that at the least AT&T didn't promote telecommunication units or Sounds film or something like that, but I noticed George if I used to be one among email@example.com sending an e-mail to another pal asking, "I appeared up Whois to find who’s the registered consumer of any area / proprietor. As I looked for this, I noticed that if I e mail them from my interactive.com e-mail handle, you in all probability put one and one collectively, you possibly can go to the web site and perceive that hey, he has this small business operating and will in all probability increase prices, increase them a bit, as a result of there’s clearly a business alternative right here. So I noticed literally that week that a lawyer moved into my office throughout the corridor from me within the type of tech incubator we have been engaged on at the time, and I stated howdy, do you assume you would send this man an e mail and simply ask if he sells the domain worth? So he comes back and says he sells the domain for $ 50,000. I feel it's good that I didn't spend a hundred grand names, because this is truly a better identify. But as many entrepreneurs are beginning out, we definitely don't have $ 50,000 lying around. So I went to the banks and I attempted to clarify to them and they’re like, 'huh, you're building a new website, proper? I like it, no, it's simply a domain. I don't know if it's a Superbowl, but they have been satisfied you might simply go to GoDaddy and get them for $ 9.99. I'm like, it doesn’t have a premium area identify, they are all registered, you’ve to purchase it from another person. So once I was fairly disillusioned 'cuz I rejected every thing I gave this concept to, the lawyer taught me an necessary lesson, nearly never receives a solution, negotiate. So go back to the person and say properly: don't drop the low ball for him and supply him half or lower than half why don't you say $ 30,000. So George, who has $ 5,000, I nonetheless don't have $ 30,000. He goes, let's see if we will find something artistic, perhaps I can ship him $ 5,000 within the quarter for the subsequent six quarters, perhaps make this finance deal and you recognize what? He went to a deal. So with George $ 5,000, we have been in a position to cost the company a bank card, we have been in a position to get the identify Voices.com and then switch the company, if I can keep in mind appropriately, over 30 days, that's for positive. As soon as I acquired it, I was like Wow, it's great to start advertising with a new identify. So we actually minimize a copy of all the area, all of the server knowledge to one other server that had a new registered voice.com area and simply pointed all of the visitors to it and it was just an tackle redirect and You realize, we've been in a few weeks and other people have been really impressed than Wow, how did you get that identify? We adore it and it’s a signal we will convey. Wanting again, I assumed it was among the best business selections we’ve got ever made. It was also in all probability probably the most risky, and I actually am not betting as a man by any means, however I call it the calculated danger, which is likely one of the belongings you assume is going to be good for the long term? And I actually felt that it was and noticed the value in creating a model id that folks would really like to be a part of.
Success Port: That's how we acquired the thought, what yr was you shopping for this area?
David Ciccarelli: 2007.
success port: 2007, so have you been in business for about Three years? So we get the thought, because that is $ 30,000, despite the fact that it's quarterly funds of $ 5,000, so nonetheless a lot of cash. Give us the concept the entire company was then, as a result of typically individuals don't need to invest money of their business. So we now have that feeling, like what number of clients you’ll be able to have, and so on.
David Ciccarelli: The entire variety of registered customers was about 10,000 in all probability paying clients, so kinda was like, in fact, a free mail template. With any on-line enterprise you will get a bunch of people to join free. Perhaps 5, 10, 15% of people buy. I feel we in all probability had less than 500 paying clients for those who needed to, however the yr's revenue, if I obtained it proper, was in all probability round $ 250,000.00. You prepare dinner it, it's fairly close to 20% of our revenue, not to mention all the prices of operating a enterprise, with this one play.
Port of Success: It's a large part of the income. It was no small danger, even at the moment it's straightforward to say that you simply already had a lot of customers, even when it was only 5-10% of the 10,000 users, however it was nonetheless harsh that you simply went improper with such a domain.
David Ciccarelli: We had validated the market, which I assumed was a great point to do. My recommendation to many individuals considering starting a enterprise or even branching out is to simply start with a no tech or low tech answer, which may typically be just a lot of speak, the sort of mapping individuals, in case you like, informally. As we speak, you possibly can register a domain and install Phrase Press, and even purchase a high-quality Phrase Press theme for lower than $ 200. It's ridiculous to attempt an concept, purchase visitors from Google, and spend $ 500 to get visitors. It seems like Wow, virtually a thousand dollars to check a enterprise concept, nicely assume through the years, huge organizations and even small companies spend tens of hundreds and even lots of of hundreds of dollars just to attempt the thought where you possibly can have a good feeling about individuals clicking on my advertisements? Are they on my website? Will they fill out my request for extra info with this small e mail type? There are various easy steps that you would be able to take to check an concept shortly after which determine whether to invest additional.
Port of Success: So we've talked about your organization and the way you started for a while, and I have to say that your website could be very addictive, I ended up listening to far too many samples.
David Ciccarelli: Seems like a weekend to me, youngsters love listening to voice expertise in other languages. I feel it's a little bit of an eye fixed opener for them.
Port of Success: Get All Accents and Every thing. But in a short time, are you able to give our viewers a image of what voices.com is and why someone would use it?
David Ciccarelli: Positive. As soon as once more, we call it the Voices.com Marketplace. That is the place the place you’d go to rent a voice actor perhaps from your enterprise telephone system or produce a Youtube video or ad and also you need somebody with a skilled voice who shall be an audio ambassador if you need, voice or your brand voice so these are people who find themselves good storytellers , not every thing sounds business, you might have individuals who sound very natural and they are Actors. So these are a number of the commonest makes use of of Voices.com, is to come pay attention to a bunch of individuals, and ultimately if you find someone you want, you’ll be able to ask them for a quote describing your undertaking and then they all ship a refund and then pay us by bank card by means of the website the document that shall be learn as an audio file and retrieve these audio information can be delivered to you through the platform. So it's type of head to head. I feel the very best velocity issue, if potential, is the rate at which individuals return information to you, sometimes inside 24 to 48 hours, in fact, depending on the dimensions and scope of the recording. Making an attempt our new ideas for various radio commercials, or wanting a totally different sound on your video, these are the things that literally a whole lot of those tasks occur every single day, and it's simply superb to see the level of engagement with the group.
Success Port: Is there some common worth if a new advert is created for a business? For example, I pay attention to a lot of automotive announcements and all that, you already know, business advertisements. Is there some rule of thumb, I'm positive there are a lot of variables, however are you able to give us an concept?
David Ciccarelli: Yeah, positive, we measure the typical measurement of all of the trades that go through it. website, sometimes it ranges from a $ 250 mark. Call it one or two scripts, in all probability 30-60 seconds or your whole telephone system; press one for this, press two for this, hold message. It matches in a few pages of manuscripts for about $ 250. Might Google Voices.com be provided to those , and there’s a entire worth listing that we’re all divided into for different makes use of, developed to serve our clients and in addition to take note of the actual transactions we see on our platform. So voices.com costs are some good place to go to see what the costs are for several types of recordings.
Port of Success: Now that is sensible as a result of I feel typically individuals do not know, so no less than this can give them some kind of information.
David Ciccarelli: Precisely. We're not making an attempt to recommend that the market is a certain means, it's simply that we now have this unique position to see all the knowledge flowing by way of the platform we thought was in all probability more useful as a result of if individuals assume it's like a thousand bucks or 5 thousand bucks, it doesn't have to be the. I imply, perhaps some individuals charge for this, but certainly there are a lot of execs who are actually affordable and who’re glad to work with you and build a long run enterprise relationship.
Port of Success: You’ve got the chance to build a market. , which you mentioned many occasions, which I feel is all the time incredibly troublesome as a result of you could have principally two clients. We all know their enterprise, we just have to ensure we get one customer, but you need to do twice as a lot to succeed. So what did you do to make this successful so as to create a successful market?
David Ciccarelli: I'm really glad that you simply talked about this as a result of it’s one thing that could be very underrated to be trustworthy, and so we see it. They’re two distinct groups of consumers who typically have conflicting wants and needs. So assume for a second, you have got a customer who needs issues as shortly as potential and nonetheless needs it to sound very top quality, skilled, however I would like to pay as little as potential. Then, on the other finish of the market, you’ve got a voice skilled who needs to work with the perfect shoppers, the perfect relationships, they usually need to take advantage of cash. It’s a sort of opposing forces. So since we have now been operating as a dependable mediator, we’ve been in my strategy, we don’t essentially provide any social gathering requires tender over the opposite social gathering, however we use the platform. There’s undoubtedly a hen and egg sort drawback here, what first came up? In our state of affairs, we first constructed and marketed audio expertise on the web site, as I stated, they have been coming to us and we have been again in the day coding HTML profiles for these voice actors and then making an attempt to get them to work and making an attempt to find shoppers who may need to rent them. What did we get? I consider that from day one, since not only Stephanie and I are the founders of the corporate, we’re additionally husband and spouse. We stay, breathe, eat and sleep in this enterprise all day lengthy. But one of many things we did right off the bat was that we literally had a piece of paper that we pulled in the midst of the road and stated, right here is your space of duty and here is my area of duty. Usually, Stephanie works with audio giveaways, coaches, training institutes and agents and it's all in her enterprise, after which I'm on the shopper aspect, so we work with corporations, government businesses and educational institutes and so on to convey their jobs to the platform. I couldn't think about operating a enterprise as a sole proprietor, I feel it might be very troublesome. As with all business, as you could know, you will have to encompass yourself with massive individuals, but I consider from the beginning that these double tracks have been operating. From this present day on, once you visit the Voices.com homepage, you’ll discover that there’s a green and blue field, and we’ll attempt to distinguish individuals, new visitors from these totally different routes, relying on which category they belong to. The entire story and all the phrases we use in calls to action and buttons that lead to enrollment types are all distinguishable, whether you’re a customer or a voice. This mind-set for two customer teams has been at DNA because the starting.
Port of Success: Now for 10 years you’ve gotten been in enterprise for about 10 years and that is a large achievement whenever you take a look at all the statistics and also you managed to build a successful business. How might you examine your past problem to at present's challenges and cope with those challenges, can you speak a little about it?
David Ciccarelli: They do a lot of the same issues, it hires a crowd, defines roles and duties and knows who does what, communicates who does what and if there’s a want, after which hires somebody new for the job. Definitely you ought to be in a position to help them financially, which is a nice duty, so these are the identical challenges we had from the early days to the present. I’ve all the time built the company, this will likely sound like fun, actually have designed myself in the process and by considering techniques. If we hassle doing something once and may think about ourselves doing it perhaps 10, 20 occasions, I'm in all probability going to find out if there’s a system to do this, whether it simply starts as a spreadsheet or is it a buyer relationship management system like salesforce.com or Zoho, methods out there, however on the lookout for ways to standardize the method and enhance it over time. So select this continuous improvement sort of strategy and it comes simply since you hit a brick wall and also you discover; what is the problem here? Why can we continue this? Can we reset our considering or take a utterly totally different strategy? If we started this course of from scratch, we might haven’t any emotional or emotional baggage or any ties to our present approach of doing business. If we started this from scratch, how would we do it? We’ve got used this strategy a few occasions and provide you with utterly new options to a specific drawback. So I feel it's a lot of the identical stuff as they are saying, each your individuals, your product and the third "P" can be your process.
Port of Success: Its Yr 2014. Can you give us an concept of 10 years of how massive voices.com is for individuals, clients, and I don't know in case you can share income.
David Ciccarelli: Positive. As the first yr we have been speaking about, we have been just making an attempt to get the primary hundred individuals to be our aim, then it was the primary thousand, now we’ve a quarter million, so 250,000 customers with 45 staff right here. So, it's once more a pretty massive group. Revenue is definitely double-digit when it comes to gross revenue. It's so surprising to me as a result of I keep in mind once we have been just making an attempt to get the first hundred dollars. It's a lot of small selections which might be made proper in a yr and are ready to overturn a determination if it was dangerous and solely lasts in the future at a time, it's a long, sluggish course of and I feel many entrepreneurs are impatient and annoyed however we didn't have a secret sauce If there was one, it was permanence. We have been sticking to one concept and sticking to it for ten years. The thought was the market for phone broadcasting, and we did not change it in ten years. It's been kind of the same firm on a regular basis. Different market dynamics have modified, the individuals in our staff have come and gone, the economic landscape has modified, however we are just caught with this one concept. I consider that if entrepreneurs can achieve this, they will be extra profitable than continuously chasing the subsequent neatest thing after which their revenue mannequin will all the time change. So stick to one factor and see it all by means of.
Port of Success: Thus far, it feels like virtually a stroll in the park and I know it wasn't, and you're not making an attempt to say it was, however I would like to hear a huge mistake or a huge challenge that was a actually great learning expertise for you.
David Ciccarelli: I feel the most important one was around the time once we had a financial disaster in the USA and we are based mostly in Canada and initially you thought it had little to do with us, however our bank card processor, the company that maintains our bank card system for us American company. That they had a Canadian subsidiary, initially once we crammed out the appliance, once we started a company to open a bank card account; they asked us what your annual revenue was. I don't know, it will be great if we made $ 30,000 a yr, perhaps $ Three,000 a month, $ 36,000 a yr. So we wrote it down for the app and then they requested us what the typical event measurement was saying that we hadn't bought anything yet, so we simply zeroed in on the app. Nicely, 4, 5 years goes by and the monetary crisis is occurring and this company is checking all their accounts and we got here up with it as a result of there were a few fraudulent transactions where a stolen bank card was used on the web they usually informed us that we have been 17 occasions their outdoors the danger profile, and that they might effectively shut down our bank card system instantly. I stated it seems such as you're going to just about take us out of enterprise, this is totally unreasonable. They stated, nicely, we'll offer you 30 days and stop depositing funds in your account. We'll offer you 30 days to find a new processor. So assume that from our perspective round 2,500 credit cards have been encrypted at the time, so it's not as straightforward to swap. We had to go search for a new provider and provide you with a security and hold all our enterprise inside this 30 days and then trade all our clients with new credit card info for future orders and other events we had. It was simply a actually troublesome time as a result of, truthfully, we had little or no money coming into the corporate, as a result of we didn't have the means to deal with it and the necessity to maintain going. I feel it has taught me an essential lesson that you simply want to maintain money, it’s common advice in your personal life, like a Three-6 month window with money in hand. It was a lesson there that in apply you must comply with the same strategy in business, you actually have to have that cash; chest warfare, as it’s typically referred to, in your company in order that when the inevitable wet day or storm greater than it comes, you’ll be able to run by means of it. It was just a troublesome time we went by means of and I feel we discovered from those exhausting teachings and we are stronger for that.
Port of Success: I simply have a few more questions. One is that you’re building a profitable enterprise and some individuals say they haven’t any probability anymore or I have approach an excessive amount of competition to succeed. So you someone who has executed it, Do you see enterprise alternatives on this weak financial system that we are going via?
David Ciccarelli: Sure. There are undoubtedly two methods to find the subsequent huge concept. One is to find what passion is for you and work out how to earn it. That's how Stephanie and I did, I was a sound buddy, began my very own studio and built a $ 30 hourly fee on this little studio I started. Stephanie charged a modest amount for going round and singing at weddings and getting badges for singing at special events and so forth. So these are both passions we had, they usually developed extra time into markets that have been finally scalable. These are things that both of us actually enjoyed since we have been totally different, I all the time like turntables and shortwave radios and I was "tech". Plenty of aspiring entrepreneurs undoubtedly want to take into consideration what they have been like at college and what they stored doing. So it's one place to discover good ideas. The second is to truthfully observe the world around you and find one thing that just annoys you as a result of if it annoys you then there are in all probability a variety of different individuals who it additionally annoys. If it's a higher key ring system, you possibly can shade the keys so it's easier to spot on the important thing ring. Otherwise you're at lunch and the ketchup bottle didn't put out the ketchup and you have to shake it 20 occasions. Is there a higher bottle of ketchup that could possibly be created? Discover a means to scratch your itch as the saying goes. I feel these are two methods you will discover a enterprise, and it doesn't have to be a type of high-tech online businesses to start with. Typically yow will discover things offline and then bounce online, then issues really begin to get fascinating. Voit vahvistaa ideasi riippumatta kuluttamatta rahaa. Vaimoni on ärsyyntynyt kaikkialla, luen ihmisten nimikyltit ja sanon: "Voi Julie, oletko koskaan kuullut niistä ihmisistä mainostajissa, jotka tekevät ääniä, mitä luulet heidän nimeltään?" Koska minä " Yritän vain nähdä, mitä ihmiset ajattelevat, että näitä ihmisiä kutsutaan ja he ovat kuin kertoja tai ilmoittaja, ja sanon, että se on mielenkiintoista. Tiedätte, että aloitan vain keskustelut ihmisten kanssa kaasuvaihtokaupassa tai vastaanottovirkailijan kanssa melko kaikkialla, missä menemme, koska olen vain jatkuvasti siinä sienimoodissa, jossa yritän kysyä kysymyksiä ja sitten saada palautetta. Se on loistava ajattelutapa, joka myötävaikuttaa elinikäiseen oppimiseen.
Menestyssatama: Jos joku tuli luoksesi, ehkä paras ystävä tai joku perheenjäsenistäsi, jolla on nyt työpaikka, mutta he näkevät menestyksesi yrityksessä, ja he sanovat Davidin tietävän mitä? Haluan todella menestyä. Mikä olisi ensimmäinen asia, jonka opettaisit heille yrittäjänä olemisesta?
David Ciccarelli: Olin juuri lounaassa jonkun kanssa ja puhuimme tästä, kysyin kaverilta, oletko koskaan ajatellut oman yrityksen perustamista ? Hän oli kuin, mielenkiintoinen, jonka kysyit, siksi halusin mennä lounaalle kanssasi, ja me aloimme koko keskustelussa ja puhuimme ideoista ja sanoin mitä se on, ota seuraava askel. Mikä on seuraava askel? Suorita seuraava vaihe riippumatta siitä, mitä se tarkoittaa, jos yritys rekisteröi yrityksen nimen, jos se ehkä rekisteröi verkkotunnuksen. Jotakin konkreettista askelta, joka alkaa tehdä siitä todellisuutta. Perhaps it’s a fictitious enterprise identify at the outset but you begin a marketing strategy otherwise you get every little thing down on paper. Not some hundred pages filled with charts and graphs, I’m just speaking about extra like an action plan, what am I gonna do in the subsequent 12 months to transfer on this course. It really comes down to action. There are a lot of people with a lot of great concepts however they by no means take that subsequent step to simply doing something tangible. I feel in case you do this, they you’re gonna see even some small successes and it’s gonna give you the confidence to make that subsequent step, no matter that could be.
Success Harbor: So where do you see Voices in the next 5 years, what’s your final objective? In the event you might draw the right voices.com as a business, what wouldn’t it seem like?
David Ciccarelli: Once we think about this type of query, it really is in a line with what we view our strategy is to be. It’s two words and it’d sound very corny however it comes down to this; we really do need to dominate the business. Which means, be that type of dominant player for good but the one that everyone thinks voice-overs is synonymous with, like oh ya I’m going to voices.com for that. So meaning speaking to every potential buyer that’s on the market, having every single voice expertise that practices the artwork and craft of voice appearing, they should be on the platform as nicely. It’s having that omnipresence is absolutely what we’re aiming for. The by-products of which might be executing this strategy throughout international boundaries by having a multilingual website and being in several nations all over the world. Making sure every thing is cellular enabled; that’s our cellular apps, that’s the response of design, the dynamic nature of our website that works equally nicely throughout desktop, pill and cell phones. So it’s these kinds of strategic initiatives. If business domination is the place we’re making an attempt to go, what does that mean? It means we’ve to be in as many nations and as many languages or on every gadget and talking to every single buyer that we probably can. That’s the large vision and it is probably not 5 years, it might be another 10 years but i feel we’ll get there.
Success Harbor: Properly David, I actually respect you taking the time. How can individuals connect with you?
David Ciccarelli: Definitely, i might love to keep on the conversation by way of e mail should you simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org that might get right to me. Also when you simply needed to poke around the web site and pay attention to our personal podcast or obtain a few of the different assets which are obtainable then voices.com is a great spot to go.
Success Harbor: David Ciccarelli, cofounder of voices.com, thank you and I wish you much success within the next 1o years.
David Ciccarelli: Thanks George. Bye.