Backing raises Voices among elite firms
By Adela Talbot, BA'08, MA'11
It’s been a big year for Western alumna Stephanie Ciccarelli and her business venture – perhaps the biggest yet.
Thanks to one of the largest investments in the history of London’s tech industry, Voices.com, co-founded by Ciccarelli, BMusA’06, and her husband David, in 2005, is well-positioned to dominate the voice-talent industry. Earlier this year, the company announced an $18-million investment from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital – a boost that will generate a more visible profile while allowing it to expand its offerings to include more diverse talent.
Voices.com is the largest global online marketplace for audio and voiceover products with nearly half a million business clients and voice actors. Its website records approximately two million unique visitors annually, with 250,000 transactions to date. Headquartered in London, the company employs more than 100 people and has clients and voice talent (comprised of more than 200,000 voice actors) in 139 countries.
While the investment from Morgan Stanley will primarily go towards marketing and increasing the company’s visibility, at the end of the day, the funds will allow the company to unify services and create greater, higher profile opportunities for clients and actors alike, Ciccarelli said.
Late last year, Voices.com moved into a new, larger space in London at the corner of Dundas and Talbot streets. This year, the company acquired Voicebank.net, a leading online platform for casting and project management used by more than 1,600 of the world’s top advertising agencies, casting directors and production studios. And just last month, Voices.com introduced a platform for talent agencies to access jobs by way of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union.
“We often hear, ‘Oh, I have this project and I wish I knew about you yesterday; I totally would have done this with you.’ And that’s to be expected in a business that is a people business. You work with the people you know and you’re often connected to studios, people and advertising agencies you’ve worked with for a long time. Honestly, this (investment) is going to help more people find us,” said Ciccarelli, Chief Marketing Officer.
“With the acquisition of Voicebank.net, being able to unify our industry more and to bridge the ecosystem with everybody in the same place under one roof, we can offer our clients talent we never would have been able to offer before because of this relationship we now have,” she added.
As the business continues to grow, Voices.com will expand its team in London, Ciccarelli added, but the main focus will be market dominance and taking more ground in the industry. She credits her Music education and the networking skills she developed while at Western for her business skills and success today.
“When I was at Western in the Music faculty, in my second year, I was on the University Students’ Council and my role was the Gigs Commissioner, responsible for helping other people get work. That helped prepare me for many things I did. I was always finding ways to relate what I was learning in class to the (Voices.com) business we were building at the time and making connections and seeing opportunities where others didn’t,” she explained.
“Being part of a small faculty and realizing you had to go outside of it to get to know other people, and going ‘up the hill’ was one of the most important things I was able to hone while I was at Western. You had to find common ground, and I was always good at that, but I had to learn how to do it,” Ciccarelli added.
“The transferable skills I had from doing a Music degree got me working in the field I am in now. It’s using the same instrument, just applying it differently. Music education helped us build trust with our customers and helped us understand their work and to see it as meaningful. You can’t help your customers if you don’t understand what they do. We are made to create; we are supposed to give back and build and facilitate connection, and that’s really what we’re doing. And we’re starting to see really great breakthroughs now that we’ve expanded our horizons.”