David Ciccarelli is the founder of Voices.com, a net service that connects business individuals with professional singers.
Introduction: Welcome Everyone and Welcome to the Success Harbor Podcast with George Meszaros, Where Every part Is. how success is completed to you.
Port of Success: Hello everyone, that is George Meszaros with the Port of Success and I have David Ciccarelli with me, he is the founder of Voices.com. Voices.com is an internet marketplace that connects business individuals with professional audio. Welcome.
David Ciccarelli: Hello George, thanks for getting me. It's nice to be within the present in the present day.
Success Port: So Bred initially organically fairly a lot, or was there administrator has disabled public n technique?
David Ciccarelli: I didn't go to faculty for enterprise except I had it in my blood, I feel I used to be a child who urged his mother and father for trading in storage and lemonade racks and hockey playing cards. To be trustworthy, I don't assume we had a entire advertising strategy to develop our business, so it was undoubtedly very natural. One of many tactical issues we did to get the primary group of customers is, you undoubtedly have to tell your viewers who it’s, and we did it by going by means of the Yahoo Listing. At the moment, the Yahoo Listing – we're going back to 2004 – have been these properly organized lists of hand-picked, editorially-selected good web sites for individuals to have businesses in that vertical market. The Yahoo Directory still exists, but what we did again then was actually going web site by web site, in a very logical and methodical order and solely inviting individuals to check in and do it on each side of the market, so name that on the availability aspect after which the demand aspect , where there have been shoppers who needed to rent talent. We did the same thing once we rolled out the listing of advert businesses and video manufacturing corporations and stated just “hey, in case you are in search of audio in your next video, think about using Voices.com. I’ve 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 quick story about how we received the domain?
Port of Success: Yes, I'm going to point out that it's a great area and I asked you that is the primary thought that got here to my mind? Please share. It's a great domain, is it nearly as good as it is proper?
David Ciccarelli: We all know for positive, as a result of that's what we do in one word. 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 using the location on the time, and it was at the peak of the network to the porn store, Flicker started 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 lengthy identify, literally individuals complained about being uninterested in writing it a lot and didn't know if it was a single or plural or just interactive or new videos, 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 go through. I looked at voxio and vox and all these other 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 just voices.com. So I did what in all probability lots of you’ve gotten accomplished, simply go to the handle bar or Google and sort area, 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 announcements, hadn't been up to date since 2000, and was originally registered in 1998. So very previous , a well-established domain. The excellent news is that at the least AT&T didn't sell telecommunication units or Sounds movie or anything like that, but I noticed George if I was one among email@example.com sending an e mail to one other good friend asking, "I seemed up Whois to find who is the registered consumer of any domain / owner. 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 website and understand that hey, he has this small enterprise operating and will in all probability increase prices, increase them a bit, as a result of there’s clearly a business opportunity right here. So I noticed actually that week that a lawyer moved into my office throughout the corridor from me within the type of tech incubator we have been working on at the time, and I stated whats up, do you assume you can ship this guy an e-mail and just ask if he sells the area worth? So he comes again and says he sells the domain for $ 50,000. I feel it's good that I didn't spend a hundred grand names, because that is truly a better identify. However as many entrepreneurs are starting 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, right? I prefer it, no, it's just a domain. I don't know if it's a Superbowl, however they have been convinced you can just go to GoDaddy and get them for $ 9.99. I'm like, it does not have a premium area identify, they are all registered, you’ve got to buy it from someone else. So once I was pretty disenchanted 'cuz I rejected every part I gave this concept to, the lawyer taught me an necessary lesson, nearly by no means receives an answer, negotiate. So return to the man and say nicely: 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 still don't have $ 30,000. He goes, let's see if we will discover one thing artistic, perhaps I can send 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 charge the corporate a bank card, we have been in a position to get the identify Voices.com and then transfer the corporate, if I can keep in mind appropriately, over 30 days, that's for positive. As quickly as I obtained it, I used to be like Wow, it's great to begin advertising with a new identify. So we actually reduce a copy of all the domain, all of the server knowledge to one other server that had a new registered voice.com domain and just pointed all the visitors to it and it was just an handle redirect and You recognize, we've been in a few weeks and other people have been actually impressed than Wow, how did you get that identify? We like it and it is a sign we will convey. Wanting back, I assumed it was probably the greatest enterprise selections we now have ever made. It was also in all probability probably the most dangerous, and I really am not betting as a man by any means, but I call it the calculated danger, which is among the belongings you assume is going to be good for the long run? And I really felt that it was and saw the value in creating a model id that folks would really like to be a part of.
Success Port: That's how we received the thought, what yr was you buying this domain?
David Ciccarelli: 2007.
success port: 2007, so have you ever been in business for about Three years? So we get the thought, because that is $ 30,000, although it's quarterly funds of $ 5,000, so nonetheless a lot of cash. Give us the concept the whole company was then, as a result of typically individuals don't need to make investments cash in their business. So we’ve that feeling, like what number of clients you possibly can have, and so forth.
David Ciccarelli: The full 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 online enterprise you will get a bunch of people to join free. Perhaps 5, 10, 15% of individuals purchase. I feel we in all probability had less than 500 paying clients should you needed to, but the yr's income, if I obtained it proper, was in all probability round $ 250,000.00. You prepare dinner it, it's pretty close to 20% of our income, not to point out all the prices of operating a business, with this one play.
Port of Success: It's a big a part of the revenue. It was no small danger, even at this time it's straightforward to say that you simply already had a lot of users, even when it was solely 5-10% of the 10,000 customers, nevertheless it was still harsh that you simply went mistaken with such a domain.
David Ciccarelli: We had validated the market, which I assumed was a great point to do. My advice to many individuals considering beginning a enterprise and even branching out is to just start with a no tech or low tech answer, which may typically be just a lot of speak, the sort of mapping individuals, when you like, informally. At the moment, you possibly can register a domain and set up Phrase Press, and even buy a high-quality Phrase Press theme for less than $ 200. It's ridiculous to attempt an concept, buy visitors from Google, and spend $ 500 to get visitors. It appears like Wow, virtually a thousand dollars to check a enterprise concept, properly assume through the years, massive organizations and even small businesses spend tens of hundreds and even lots of of hundreds of dollars just to attempt the thought the place you possibly can have a good feeling about individuals clicking on my advertisements? Are they on my web site? Will they fill out my request for extra info with this small e mail type? There are lots of easy steps you can take to check an concept shortly and then determine whether or not to invest additional.
Port of Success: So we've talked about your organization and the way you started for a whereas, and I’ve 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 different languages. I feel it's a little bit of an eye fixed opener for them.
Port of Success: Get All Accents and All the things. But very quickly, can you 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 name it the Voices.com Marketplace. This is the place where you’d go to rent a voice actor perhaps from your enterprise telephone system or produce a Youtube video or advert and also you need someone with a professional voice who will probably 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’ll have individuals who sound very pure and they’re Actors. So these are a number of the commonest uses of Voices.com, is to come pay attention to a bunch of individuals, and ultimately if you discover somebody you like, you’ll be able to ask them for a quote describing your venture after which they all ship a refund after which pay us by bank card by way of the web site the doc that will probably be read 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 attainable, is the speed at which individuals return information to you, sometimes inside 24 to 48 hours, in fact, relying on the dimensions and scope of the recording. Making an attempt our new concepts for different radio commercials, or wanting a totally different sound in your video, these are the things that actually tons of of those tasks happen day by day, and it's just superb to see the extent of engagement with the group.
Success Port: Is there some average worth if a new advert is created for a enterprise? For example, I pay attention to a lot of automotive announcements and all that, you realize, business advertisements. Is there some rule of thumb, I'm positive there are a lot of variables, but 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. Name it one or two scripts, in all probability 30-60 seconds or your complete telephone system; press one for this, press two for this, maintain message. It matches in a few pages of manuscripts for about $ 250. Might Google Voices.com be provided to those interested, and there’s a entire worth record that we’re all divided into for various makes use of, developed to serve our clients and in addition to keep in mind the precise transactions we see on our platform. So voices.com prices 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 it will give them some type of guide.
David Ciccarelli: Exactly. We're not making an attempt to recommend that the market is a certain means, it's just that we now have this unique place to see all the knowledge flowing by means of the platform we thought was in all probability more helpful 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 mean, perhaps some individuals charge for this, but certainly there are a lot of execs who are actually affordable and who are comfortable to work with you and construct a long run enterprise relationship.
Port of Success: You might have the opportunity to build a market. , which you mentioned many occasions, which I feel is all the time extremely troublesome because you’ve gotten principally two clients. We all know their business, we just have to be sure we get one buyer, however you want to do twice as much to succeed. So what did you do to make this successful in order to create a successful marketplace?
David Ciccarelli: I'm really glad that you simply mentioned this because it’s something that could be very underrated to be trustworthy, and so we see it. They are two distinct groups of consumers who typically have conflicting wants and needs. So assume for a second, you will have a customer who needs issues as shortly as attainable and still needs it to sound very top quality, professional, however I would like to pay as little as potential. Then, at the different finish of the market, you might have a voice skilled who needs to work with the perfect shoppers, one of the best relationships, they usually want to take advantage of money. It is a type of opposing forces. So since we’ve got been working as a reliable mediator, we’ve got been in my strategy, we don’t essentially provide any social gathering requires tender over the opposite celebration, however we use the platform. There’s undoubtedly a hen and egg sort drawback right here, what first got here up? In our state of affairs, we first constructed and marketed audio expertise on the website, as I stated, they have been coming to us and we have been back within the day coding HTML profiles for these voice actors after which making an attempt to get them to work and making an attempt to discover shoppers who may want to rent them. What did we get? I consider that from day one, since not solely Stephanie and I are the founders of the company, we’re also husband and wife. We stay, breathe, eat and sleep in this enterprise all day lengthy. However one of many issues we did right off the bat was that we literally had a piece of paper that we pulled in the midst of the line and stated, here is your area of duty and right here is my area of duty. Normally, Stephanie works with audio giveaways, coaches, training institutes and brokers and it's all in her business, and then I'm on the shopper aspect, so we work with corporations, government businesses and academic institutes and so forth to convey their jobs to the platform. I couldn't imagine operating a enterprise as a sole proprietor, I feel it will be very troublesome. As with all enterprise, as you might know, you’ve to surround yourself with massive individuals, however I consider from the start that these double tracks have been operating. From this present day on, whenever you go to the Voices.com homepage, you will discover that there is a green and blue field, and we’ll attempt to distinguish individuals, new visitors from these totally different routes, depending on which category they belong to. The entire story and all the words we use in calls to motion and buttons that lead to enrollment types are all distinguishable, whether or not you’re a customer or a voice. This mind-set for 2 customer groups has been at DNA because the beginning.
Port of Success: Now for 10 years you've been in business for about a yr, and that's a large achievement if you take a look at all of the stats and also you managed to construct a profitable business. How might you examine your past challenge to as we speak's challenges and cope with these challenges, can you speak a little about it?
David Ciccarelli: They do a lot of the identical issues, it hires a crowd, defines roles and duties and knows who does what, communicates who does what and if there’s a want, and then hires somebody new for the job. Definitely you need to be in a position to help them financially, which is a great duty, so these are the same challenges we had from the early days to the present. I’ve all the time constructed the corporate, this may increasingly sound like enjoyable, really have designed myself within the course of and by considering methods. If we hassle doing one thing once and may imagine ourselves doing it perhaps 10, 20 occasions, I'm in all probability going to discover out if there’s a system to do that, whether it simply begins as a spreadsheet or is it a customer relationship management system like salesforce.com or Zoho, techniques out there, but on the lookout for ways to standardize the method and enhance it over time. So choose this steady improvement sort of strategy and it comes simply since you hit a brick wall and you notice; what is the challenge here? Why can we proceed 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 current method of doing enterprise. If we began this from scratch, how would we do it? We’ve used this strategy a few occasions and provide you with utterly new solutions to a particular drawback. So I feel it's a lot of the identical stuff as they say, each your individuals, your product and the third "P" can be your course of.
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 revenue.
David Ciccarelli: Positive. As the primary yr we have been talking about, we have been simply making an attempt to get the first hundred individuals to be our objective, then it was the first thousand, now we’ve a quarter million, so 250,000 users with 45 staff right here. So, it's again a fairly huge group. Revenue is definitely double-digit when it comes to gross revenue. It's so surprising to me because I keep in mind once we have been simply 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 at some point 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 trade market, and we didn’t change it for ten years. It's been kind of the same company on a regular basis. Other market dynamics have changed, the individuals in our staff have come and gone, the economic landscape has modified, however we are simply 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 and then their revenue mannequin will all the time change. So stick to one factor and see all of it via.
Port of Success: To date, it seems like virtually a stroll within the park and I do know it wasn't, and also you're not making an attempt to say it was, however I would like to hear a massive mistake or a huge problem that was a really great learning expertise for you.
David Ciccarelli: I feel the most important one was across 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, but our bank card processor, the company that maintains our credit card American company. That they had a Canadian subsidiary, initially once we crammed out the appliance, once we began a firm to open a credit card account; they requested us what your annual revenue was. I don't know, it will be nice if we made $ 30,000 a yr, perhaps $ 3,000 a month, $ 36,000 a yr. So we wrote it down for the app and then they asked us what the typical event measurement was saying that we hadn't bought something but, so we simply zeroed in on the app. Nicely, 4, 5 years goes by and the monetary disaster 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 the place a stolen bank card was used on the web they usually advised us that we have been 17 occasions their outdoors the danger profile, and that they might effectively shut down our credit card system instantly. I stated it appears like you're going to pretty much take us out of enterprise, this is totally unreasonable. They stated, properly, we'll offer you 30 days and cease depositing funds in your account. We'll offer you 30 days to find a new processor. So assume that from our viewpoint around 2,500 credit cards have been encrypted at the time, so it's not as straightforward to swap. We had to go look for a new supplier and provide you with a safety and maintain all our business inside this 30 days after which change all our clients with new credit card info for future orders and different events we had. It was just a actually troublesome time as a result of, truthfully, we had very little money coming into the company, because we didn't have the means to handle 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 private life, like a 3-6 month window with money in hand. It was a lesson there that in follow it is best to comply with the identical strategy in business, you actually have to have that money; chest warfare, as it’s typically referred to, in your company so that when the inevitable wet day or storm greater than it comes, you’ll be able to run by way of it. It was just a troublesome time we went by means of and I feel we discovered from those exhausting teachings and we’re stronger for that.
Port of Success: I just have a few more questions. One is that you’re constructing a successful enterprise and a few individuals say they haven’t any probability anymore or I have method too much competition to succeed. So you somebody who has accomplished it, Do you see enterprise opportunities on this weak financial system that we’re going by means of?
David Ciccarelli: Yes. There are undoubtedly two ways to discover the subsequent huge concept. One is to discover what passion is for you and work out how to earn it. That's how Stephanie and I did, I used to be a sound buddy, started my own studio and built a $ 30 hourly price in this little studio I began. 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 additional time into markets that have been finally scalable. These are things that both of us really loved since we have been totally different, I all the time like turntables and shortwave radios and I used to be "tech". A variety of aspiring entrepreneurs undoubtedly need 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 discover one thing that simply annoys you because if it annoys you then there are in all probability a number of other individuals it annoys too. If it's a better key ring system, you’ll be able to colour the keys so it's simpler to spot on the important thing ring. Or 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 better bottle of ketchup that might be created? Discover a approach to scratch your itch because the saying goes. I feel these are two methods yow will discover a business, and it doesn't have to be a type of high-tech on-line businesses to start with. Typically you will discover things offline and then leap on-line, then things really start 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 useless 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 however you begin a business plan or you get all the things down on paper. Not some hundred pages filled with charts and graphs, I’m simply talking about extra like an motion plan, what am I gonna do in the next 12 months to transfer in this path. It really comes down to action. There are a lot of people with a lot of great ideas but they by no means take that next step to just doing something tangible. I feel in case you do this, they you’re gonna see even some small successes and it’s gonna provide the confidence to make that next step, whatever that could be.
Success Harbor: So the place do you see Voices in the subsequent 5 years, what’s your final objective? Should you might draw the right voices.com as a enterprise, 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 nevertheless it comes down to this; we really do need to dominate the business. Which means, be that type of dominant participant for good however the one that everyone thinks voice-overs is synonymous with, like oh ya I’m going to voices.com for that. So meaning talking to each potential buyer that’s out there, having every single voice talent that practices the art and craft of voice appearing, they need to be on the platform as nicely. It’s having that omnipresence is admittedly what we’re aiming for. The by-products of which might be executing this strategy across international boundaries by having a multilingual website and being in several nations around the globe. Making sure every part is cellular enabled; that’s our cellular apps, that’s the response of design, the dynamic nature of our web site that works equally nicely across desktop, tablet and cell phones. So it’s these sorts of strategic initiatives. If business domination is where we’re making an attempt to go, what does that imply? It means we’ve got to be in as many nations and as many languages or on every system and talking to each single buyer that we probably can. That’s the large imaginative and prescient and it will not be 5 years, it might be one other 10 years however i feel we’ll get there.
Success Harbor: Nicely David, I actually respect you taking the time. How can individuals join with you?
David Ciccarelli: Definitely, i might love to keep on the conversation by way of e-mail when you just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org that may get proper to me. Also when you simply needed to poke across the website and pay attention to our personal podcast or obtain a few of the other assets which are obtainable then voices.com is a excellent spot to go.
Success Harbor: David Ciccarelli, cofounder of voices.com, thank you and I wish you a lot success in the next 1o years.
David Ciccarelli: Thanks George. Bye.