Scaling Your Vision
London, Ontario-based Voices.com is the industry-leading website that connects businesses with professional voice talent. With over 200,000 voice actors from around the globe speaking over 100 languages and dialects, there is enough talent to handle projects like TV commercials, educational videos, audiobooks, video games, animated movies and everything in between. The company started in a recording studio by a husband and wife team; David Ciccarelli was the sound engineer and Stephanie Ciccarelli was the sole voice talent. From that, Voices.com has grown into the world’s largest online voiceover marketplace, due in no small part to their visionary leadership and perseverance.
Operating in London, Ontario
“There are plenty of benefits to being in Ontario,” David reflects on operating a business in southwest Ontario. “I think there is a lot of support from local, provincial, and even federal programs. The various levels of government understand the transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy and have been very supportive of that.”
Additionally, being located in London has its own unique benefits. “London has the highest per capita employment of contact center and inside sales employees in all of Canada. Access to this kind of talent is an advantage for digital companies that are building their business development, account management, or customer support teams.”
Voices.com is the recipient of a $250,000 voucher from the Ontario Scale Up Vouchers Program (OSVP), enabling them to expand their online marketplace and offer new services while increasing their workforce. They have already made three full-time hires and are continuing to carry out their OSVP Growth Plan throughout 2018.
Currently, Voices.com has 117 employees and an impressive five-year revenue growth of 1,166%. Their rapid growth has not gone unnoticed. In 2017, Voices.com was ranked 61st on Profit 500’s list of Canada’s fastest growing companies. The company was also ranked 40th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 list of companies. However, their road to success was not easy. It required firm commitment to their vision and perseverance to overcome the difficulties of becoming an industry leader.
As many companies do, Voices.com faced challenges when scaling their business. “In the early days when trying to prove out our concept, people viewed us as a lifestyle business. They could not see the growth potential of our business,” says Ciccarelli. To change that perception, Voices.com built a strong management team and started to focus on meeting the needs of Fortune 500 companies that could benefit from their services.
The organization also found it difficult to raise capital. “We were really limited to debt and eventually subordinated debt which is the most expensive kind,” says David. “We struggled to raise the capital necessary to grow.” David and Stephanie were disheartened by this at first, but eventually succeeded. In 2017, they welcomed an USD $18 million investment from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital.
David and Stephanie have come a long way since launching Voices.com in a recording studio 13 years ago. The challenges they have faced to grow their business from humble beginnings have added to Voices.com’s legacy in becoming the world’s largest online marketplace for voice actors.