Andrew: Hey there Freedom Fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. Home of the ambitious upstart and you know the goal of this site is to introduce you to success stories that we frankly don’t just tell but we go deep in depth on so that you can learn from them, and let the ideas that they’ve used, let their successes, let their failures be lessons that stick with you and allow you to build your own success story, and when you do I’m hoping that you’ll come back here and do your own interview as so many other Mixergy fans have.
Well you know that one of the challenges that keep people from launching tech companies in the first place is that they just can’t code, let alone be one of the best coders ever, and so they just, they just don’t do it. Well today’s guest built a multi-million dollar company starting with just a basic website. So simple static HTML that the techies might even laugh at it, but it worked and frankly his computing was done, as we’ll find out later in this interview, on a whiteboard. I invited him here to talk about how he did it.
His name is David Ciccarelli. He is the founder of Voices.com an online marketplace that matches voice-over professionals with businesses, including podcasters, ad agencies, and marketers when those businesses need voice-over work they often go to Voices.com, excuse me, and this whole thing is sponsored by Andrew’sWelcomeGate.com. It’s a page that I have up on my site that allows people to understand what Mixergy is about and encourages them to give me their email address so they join my mailing list and I get an opportunity to stay connected with them, and frankly promote the interviews and courses that we do here.
Well the page did so well that I’m now making it available to you. If you need a page that allows you to collect email addresses really powerfully go to AndrewsWelcomeGate.com, you can take my page customize it to your site and it will work, AndrewsWelcomeGate.com.
David: Hey, thanks for the into, Andrew, appreciate being here.
Andrew: You bet. Hey your goal wasn’t to start a website or a tech company, you had a different goal you wanted to start a recording studio, why?
David: Exactly. Well I think like most people we grow up with a passion and sometimes for some people it’s sports, sometimes it’s artistic endeavors, for me it was all about music and I found a school that specialized in producing graduates who were experts in audio recording, and when I graduated from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology, considered the Harvard of audio recording, that I set about opening a recording studio, and it was almost about ten years ago now, it was about now, and when I did so I got my name in the local newspaper and it got published on my newspap-…on my birthday of all days actually and this is kind of where the story gets interesting.
You see Stephanie, who’s my wife, now my wife, and co-founder in Voices.com; she was a classically trained singer. She would sing at weddings, and funerals, and other special events, and her mom being the savvy marketer that she was her mom suggested that she get a demo CD done and so that she could kind of hand these out to perspective clients, and so Stephanie’s mom literally cut out this newspaper article and left it on her bed for her to read, and she came down to the recording studio and we hit it off, and she was one of my first customers if you will.
So my passion was always to, and desire in the beginning, was always just to run a recording studio recording local bands, hip-hop artists, and so-forth, and it wasn’t until that time with this particular newspaper article where I realized that there was a much bigger business opportunity in actually recording voice-overs.
Andrew: David, how do you go from having somebody come into record with you to suddenly dating her and then eventually taking it to the next level and marrying her and running the business with each other? How do you make that first step?
David: Yeah it’s kind of, well you know Stephanie’s mom actually chaperoned her on the first recording session, but it was interesting because the newspaper article was literally a full page display, and it prompted other small businesses in the city to actually call the studio and see if I could actually record a voice mail recording for a phone system, and there was a hair salon company that wanted a local radio commercial done and they both wanted a female voice.
Well knowing only one girl in the whole city I give up Stephanie a call and I say, “Hey do you think you can come down and read this page of copy,” and the way I remember the story was I said that we would split the money but she doesn’t quite remember that part, but that’s the story I tell. So we hit it off.
We ended up doing a lot of recordings you know kind of being partners if you will, to the point where we put up this really primitive website.
Andrew: If I’m understanding you right, what’s happening is, you create this recording studio anticipating that people have their own material to record, would come in and pay you by the hour would come in and record. What you’re finding almost immediately as soon as that first newspaper article comes out, is people say to you, I don’t just want to come in and record, in fact I’m not a recording professional, I need you to record for me. You find the voice over person and you get this recording for me and I’ll pay you because that’s what I need. That’s how you started to identity the need that eventually lead to this business, am I right?
David: Absolutely, that’s a great point. The first challenge I think I saw right at the beginning is, you strike it on the head, which is… Realizing that, if I were to, kind of, sell out or rent out the studio on an hourly basis, frankly, the financial prospects were actually pretty limited. I think it was 30 dollars an hour. Even if I was booked for a whole day, call it 250-300 dollars, I just didn’t really see that as scale-able. I was a very big fan of buying and selling equipment and odds and ends on eBay at the time. I loved concept of a marketplace where you’re connecting buyers and sellers.
Andrew: Why go to that just because eBay does it? Why not say, hey you know what, I have clients who are calling me up, I’m not going to build the market place for them, I’ll have 10 different voiceover artists. Maybe five women, five men, who I can count on and when a client needs some work, I’ll hire the right person for the client and that’s how I’ll scale, by constantly hiring these voice over artists as I need them and owning the studio for myself and producing the whole thing end to end for clients. Why not go in that direction?
David: I think it goes back to the scale-ability. I knew that this was a… The first kind of ah-ha moment that struck me was, hey if we’re doing this and London, Ontario, which is probably about 500,000 people within the city. One million within the region. It’s a fair-sized city, but we’re in one place. Truly there is a much bigger market, probably a global market for these kinds of services. Frankly, it’s a bit naive, not recognizing this until you’ve stepped out in faith, build the studio, then people coming and driving some in bound interest. There was the recognition that the time was finite. My geography basis was finite.
Ultimately, both of those were never going to be scale-able. Realizing this vision of something much, much bigger, and I didn’t quick know what that is. Not that everyone needs to have the billion dollar idea off the bat. You have the ambition, the desire, to build something much bigger than what you can see right in front of you. That’s what the drive was. The passion was for the industry and the space. I wasn’t utilizing all the skills that I had, but then…
Andrew: I see, you’re saying it just would never be big enough.
David: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: David, market places are hard because you have to go after 2 different groups of people. We’re going to talk about how you overcame that difficulty. What you’re saying is, I needed to overcome that difficulty because my vision was bigger. I see that not so much in the recording studio. I’m kind of surprised that you would own a recording studio considering your background is, yes you were interested in it, I’m looking at what April Dykeman in the pre-interview, you said, you encourage your parents to have yard sales. When you we’re grown up, you went to the corner store to buy soda. What did you do with that soda?
David: Oh, that’s a great story. I would go buy cases of pop from the local corner store.
David: I’d bring back a case of 12 cans. It was usually couple. You have to have Coke and the Sprite kind of thing, and root beer and I’d stack them all up in my locker. I’d then sell them for a dollar a can. I realized, wow, I just made 12 bucks and I only had to spend like 3 dollars on buying every case. I guess just kind of having that buying and selling hockey cards. I was the guy that, not just bought and sold the hockey cards, but I actually either ran entire card shows, where you bring in again, really buyers and selling so it’s interesting that we’re talking about this. It’s not much different from when I was a kid.
Andrew: Were you shut down, by the way, by the school when you started selling pop?
David: I was. They didn’t like that I was feeding everybody sugar water at lunch, so that idea went to bust pretty quickly.
Andrew: Did they try to maybe get you to sell water or healthy snacks, instead? Or just said, no selling?
David: No. Just squash the entrepreneurial spirit, I mean, that’s what they were trying to do.
Andrew: Which is what seems to happen, what we were trying to do.
Andrew: Which is what seems to happen. You also got into hockey and baseball cards. What did you do there, as a kid?
David: For sure. So, yeah, as a kid I would… You know what, my birthday is in January so people didn’t know whatever to get me for a good couple number of years and I would always get these packs of hockey cards. I ended up with this pretty good collection. I started selling them at these hockey cards, sports card shows. We would drive to other cities and offer to sell them there. I’ve ran a few shows as well too. It was all really a simple calculation of, what are the expenses? Do I think I can sell more, and come up the other side? Not necessarily with the profit, but certainly not losing money. A lot of these early endeavors were for the pure fun of it all. It just seemed really interesting, the whole game of business, if you will.
Andrew: I get it. All nright, and I can see how now you found a new game to play because people are coming to you and saying, I want this. You had this idea of creating a market place like eBay and you didn’t have the money to do it. What did you sell in order to get the money to build the business?
David: As I mentioned, I had opened up that small recording studio. I probably put in 30, maybe even upwards of $50,000 of equipment. Recognizing that, hey I can break down the barriers of time and space by getting out of having people physically walk into the studio, and more facilitating these transactions online. Stephanie and I actually went to the local library and probably got one of those yellow and black For Dummies books on how to use Dreamweaver, I think it was. We then built the first version of Voices.com, which was… I’ll tell the story about how we actually got the name, because we didn’t start as Voices.com, we started as Interactive Voices. I’ll come back to this story. Remind me in a bit.
David: We put together this really, I call it primitive brochure style website. It literally was a list of our services and didn’t have a contact form or anything, because that would require database and PHP calls. This was literally a collection of HTML pages and all I did was in the WYSIWYG editor, I didn’t even go into the code. We were too terrified to do that. We just placed files, these kind of HTML files, and dropped them on the server.
Andrew: The whole idea behind that was, it was going to make creating a website as easy as Microsoft Word.
David: Right. Exactly. That was the intention behind Dreamweaver and WYSIWYG editors, but there was relatively limited functionality because I’m not a developer. It was amazing. After we put up this website and featured the one voice talent, who was Stephanie, we actually started getting calls. This fellow in Quebec, who spoke French. You need somebody to speak French, I’m your guy. This fellow in New York city. Somebody who did character voices in LA. Celebrity impersonations. They, in fact, kind of came to us because, you know, I think tried to learn, how do you get your name in search engines? I tried to learn the basics of SEO search engine optimization at the time. People were coming to us and that was really the true proverbial ah-ha moment.
If we’re now running this, kind of, really basic marketplace where it was just purely a list of names, what if we could… Clients were coming to us and saying, hey how do I hire so-and-so? We would do these email exchanges. What if we could take that same model and build a true, proper marketplace for it. To answer your question, we sold, actually, all that recording equipment, reinvested that into hiring a web developer, and then a small phone system, as well, too, so we could start fueling costumer service calls.
Andrew: I’m looking at the first version of the site.
Andrew: InteractiveVoices.com. An old screenshot of it. It looks like you already had the marketplace as soon as you launched. I can see that it was built in Dreamweaver, but were you just, kind of, faking it until you made it? Showing that this was a marketplace, hoping to get both sides before you actually did? It was.
David: Yeah. I mean, we certainly had to have a business idea that’s put out on the web. We did have talent and we did have a very small handful of clients, people who were kind of coming inbound, it wasn’t like we had this big client list of 10,000 people or anything like that. The value proposition or the sales email that we eventually sent out after kind of . . .
Andrew: Forgive me, I just want to take it a little bit slower here. Before we even get into the sales of it I want to get into the website itself.
David: . . . Sure.
Andrew: Very bare bones site as you described. I see a lot of clip art here, which I think is pretty cool for a first site. But a phone number that’s even more significant, phone number at the very top of the site. Triple eight number which means its toll free. I see, the first person I see on the site is someone with a headset on encouraging me to call. I see a live help button everywhere. What’s the significance of that?
David: It’s so amazing because even to this day we still have that same toll free number at the top of every single page of the website. Significance of it was I thought it was always going to be more cost effective and just frankly more effective to generate inbound interest and I thought if I even overcome that first hurdle of attracting someone to the website. Bringing them there, a unique web visitor if you will, then I want to have an effortless experience, right? A no friction experience where someone who is interested could either click through our line or send us an email because they’re interested in doing business with us or if they wanted to they call this toll free number. I mentioned that we sold the equipment, built this first version proof of [??] type site but we also got this phone system.
The phone system was very interesting because when I call up the local telecom company and say, ‘What does it take to get this toll free line piped into our condo?’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s just a business line, you know, twenty bucks a month and five cents a minute.’ I’m like, ‘Wow five cents a minute, that’s amazing.’ I can talk to all kinds of people not having to do necessarily cold calls and get rejected and this stuff. If they want to call me that’s great. Stephanie, having a great voice, knowing how to do some performance, she recorded the initial greeting on the phone system so it really sounded like we were this much, much larger organization. You know, press one for sales, and press two for customer service, three for tech support and they literally all got routed to me.
David: It was a one man show, it was pretty funny. But whenever the phone did ring, again this is basically in our dinette in out one and a half bedroom condo, whenever the business phone would ring this little light would blink on the front of it, like there was a new call coming in. It would give us about ten, fifteen seconds as they were listening to that initial recording before our line would actually ring. As that line would blink, you know, Stephanie and I would go, ‘Oh.’ We’d know, ‘Oh, call coming in’ and we’d kind of look at each other and give each other the eye like which one of us is going to grab the baby and run down the hall and muffle the crying and which one of is going to answer in the most professional voice, ‘Thank you for calling Voices.com how can I help you?’
Again, it was just such a great tool to provide that personalized customer service which was different than the traditional talent agency, if you will. Where they were masters at being the gatekeepers and putting up road blocks and we just flipped that on its head and was like, ‘How can we be extremely inviting to do business with?’
Andrew: Could you close every sale that came in or a lot of them? Is that the power of it?
David: Oh yeah. We called them telephone tours, again you got to go back ten years, right? Seeing a toll free number on the top of a website was like, you know, pretty rare. The fact that there was somebody there right away that would walk them – there was no WebEx or Skype and if there were they were really expensive. So we had what we called telephone tours which was I’m going to literally be on the phone with somebody and walk them through brow – ‘Oh, so if you click the link in the top right hand corner that will get you to our help resources section’ and literally walk through the accounts . . .
Andrew: Why not automate that? I think most entrepreneurs would say, “Look I’m not in the business of handling phone calls that come in randomly, sometimes I like to get into flow when I do my work, I don’t want someone to interrupt it. It could even come in the middle of the night, I definitely don’t want that. I’m in the software business. I’m in the content business. I will create a walk thru button, or a big help button, that really clearly explains where people should be clicking.” You know, you could have done that, even with Dreamweaver you could have done it, why did you pick a phone call, that would have interrupted your day, instead of something online?
David: Well business is in the business of customers and customers are people they’re not companies, they’re not random web visitors, there is a person on the other end of that. So the, the closer I felt I could make the connection either, you know I knew I couldn’t be face-to-face, and to your point not only did I necessarily want to be, I’m not necessarily that kind of guy. I’d rather be kind of one-on-one speaking over the phone that’s an environment I’d be comfortable with and I just thought, “Hey if I can give some personalized attention,” this is all about winning the first 100 customers. This isn’t about getting to milk one million users. That was never the thought; it was set the milestones that I think I can achieve in the next three to six months. I call them quick wins.
I’ve got to get some quick wins under my belt and a phone number just felt like it was meeting down that line, because it was the first version, proof of concepts. If you can’t go to your customers directly and get your feedback that way I thought, “You know what; maybe I can get feedback from them over the phone.”
Andrew: What kind of feedback did you get from talking to them on the phone?
David: I was asking about, “Hey you know we’re building out your profiles,” again this is way before LinkedIn, or Myspace, or anything else, “We’re building out a profile for you as a voice actor,”
“What kind of information do you want?”
“Well we’ve got to have our audio samples up there, maybe our experience, our education, special skills, what’s in my recording studio,” So I’m just taking note’s down. All that kind of feature gathering, not to say that we promised to make it all, but I think there’s you know when I hear that ten people are saying the exact same thing I don’t need some data and some spreadsheet to tell me literally it’s as low tech as like, “Here’s our ten ideas let me run them by you. Do you like them, yes or no?” And literally like ticking them off with check marks going, “I can clearly see this was the best one.” Really low tech stuff to get started. Which I still love even to this day; start with the low tech solution.
Andrew: Speaking of low tech, when I introduced you as a person who wasn’t the most technically savvy, you aren’t a developer so you’re not the most technically savvy person I’ve interviewed. You created a simple HTML site I said, and I also said that a lot of the computing was actually done on a whiteboard. How did the whiteboard fit in?
David: Exactly that, building up that feature list was one thing, but when people were calling in because of that same phone number we quickly realized, Stephanie and I again the two person kind of an operation, quickly realized we needed some way to log and kind of track who are the voice talents, and you know we had some lists and you know we had a…there’s no CRM or Cloud Computing.
Man, it’s so much easier today there are incredible tools out there, but so what we needed to come up with was some kind of shared environment that we could both see at a glance who’s calling in, are they a customer, and how many times have they called in, what’s their email address? Really, basically a customer relationship, or CRM 1.0, and that’s what this whiteboard became.
So anytime somebody called we’d write their name and email address, and are they a voice talent kind of looking for work, are they a client looking to hire a voice, and we just, we jotted all that data down until we realized, “Okay well…” You know to the point where we had everybody memorized. Stephanie and I would go out to, we’d go out to like coffee and try to write down on like napkins and sheets of paper, or we would always carry these notebooks, all the customers’ names that we could remember in our heads, and we would get up to like 2, 300. Like 250 was kind of the max and I’ve heard about being kind of a rule of thumb like you can’t remember 250 people’s names, but that became like…you know people would call up and we would know like if we spoke with them last month, last week, we…
Andrew: Why would you try to remember their names, all 200 or so customers?
David: I think we wanted to because we certainly you know it was this intention of making, and even to this day, putting the spotlight on the voice talent. They’re the service providers in this marketplace. It is extremely challenging to build a two-sided marketplace. They were the stars of the show, because if we didn’t have the talent then why would any client come and post their job and try to hire them.
We remembered people’s names and maybe a location that they were. Something that you talked about, it was enough of a talking point to make it seem more personal and more human. Again, it’s to get away from that it is a cold website where there are no people.
To this day, frankly, there’s a misconception that Voices, despite that there are almost 70 people that work here now, some customers and people think that it’s just a website. It’s like this is a machine running on some server in some back room, and it should all be free, and it should be easy to use, and not recognizing that there is literally a giant team of people working on their behalf behind the scenes.
Andrew: I see. So, you’re saying just like many customers and online users don’t understand that there are humans behind that website, many businesses don’t recognize that the people who are interacting with them are real humans, and by remembering people’s names you allowed yourself to remember that they’re real people who exist out there and are supporting your business. It allowed you to get to know them and make them feel special.
You mentioned the difficulty too, David, of the two-sided marketplace. Let me get back to that in a moment. First, I want to say something to the audience, then I want to dig into how you build a two-sided marketplace.
The thing I want to say to the audience is at the top of this interview you heard me talk about my best converting web page and how I’m making it available to other people. Well, if you out there know how to make a page that converts really well, that gets people to convert from just hits and views into people who are willing to put their email address in a box and put their name and be interactive with the site, if you’re someone who knows how to create lead pages like that, I have a deal for you.
I want you to create those pages on a site called LeadPages, and if you do, LeadPages will power those pages. You don’t even have to know how to code them up. You don’t even have to know anything beyond basic HTML, and probably not even that, because they make it so easy. Then, LeadPages will sell those templates that you create to other businesses that need them to create landing pages.
If you know how to create those kinds of landing pages, I want you to go to mixergy.com/leadpages. That’s mixergy.com/leadpages. They’ll walk you through the process of creating a landing page or a lead page, then they will sell it for you. They’ll put it in their marketplace and sell it for you, just like they’re powering mine and helping me sell this one. Go to mixergy.com/leadpages.
David, when you have a marketplace… Sorry. You were going to say something about LeadPages.
David: No. I mean that’s probably one of those ways that we’ve been able to generate… You need to have the conversion. It’s one thing to have the traffic to any online property, but certainly at some stage they need to be converted from an anonymous visitor into a user with a name and an email address who then, in turn, can become a customer.
David: Our mantra for the longest time around remembering people’s names was always names not numbers. We don’t want to just have a number in a database. We wanted a name with an email address so we could start to build a longer term relationship. There are people who have been with us for literally ten years right from the very beginning, and they remember all the milestones over the years as well.
Andrew: Two-sided marketplaces are tough, because you need the voice over artists in order to get the businesses, but you can’t get the voice over artists until you get the businesses. The businesses won’t come until you have enough voice over artists, etcetera. What I found, though, having done these interviews, is when people create marketplaces, they often get just a few of one, and then they go after the other with more force, then the first one starts to get filled in. Is that what you did?
David: Yeah, exactly. We have a few dozen people of voice talent located all around North America who worked from their own home recording studios. The cost of the recording equipment and microphones… Nowadays you can run GarageBand and a USB microphone, and you’re golden. It would shock many people to realize that literally Super Bowl commercials and Black Friday commercials are done in people’s spare bedrooms and basement recording studios.
We had a few dozen voice talent and created profiles for them that were just static pages. It wasn’t like, they didn’t create them themselves. We created them for them, then in effect asked the voice talent, ‘We’ve got this profile for you. We’re going to convert this in effect into a paid only site for the voice talent, where for 49 dollars for the year, we will market you. For a once-a-year fee, 49 buck we’ll market you exclusively on this platform and use those funds to generate new job opportunities, and that is exactly what we did.
In the first weekend, we generated over 5,000 dollars in sales not only by emailing an offer to those voice talent, but we went on [??] directory and Yahoo directory and just any kind of list of voice talent that we could find, people who were pretty new to the game themselves, that had built their website, looking to drum up some business online and made them that same offer. So we did about $5,000 in business over the first weekend and I remember clear as day calling up my mom and saying ‘Look, mom, you really can make money on the Internet.’ because it was all coming in to our PayPal account. She couldn’t believe it.
Andrew: I see. So you were getting their email addresses by manually going to their websites, finding lists of voice over artists, emailing them long form sales letter, and that’s how you got them, and you didn’t need businesses yet for them because you said “I will market you, All you have to do is pay 50 bucks a year.”
Andrew: I see. And once you got that, is that was when you started going after the businesses?
David: Exactly. Our Google AdWords account dates back to 2003, which was when they first started their advertising program. We were very first in to that. I was just speaking to a person from a marketing team here, reminiscing when Google AdWords cost per click was five cents. Honestly, people sometimes ask if you have any regrets in business. My regret would be why didn’t I buy more traffic? Five cents! Now it is like 10 bucks a click, 20 bucks a click for some key words.
And so that is what we did. Not only we can talk about various kinds of marketing tactics and channels we used, but Google AdWords was one that I learned pretty intensely right at the very beginning. And because nobody else was advertising, Google was new and just taking off like crazy, we tended to score a lot of top spots and was in turn was able to capture a lot of that business that was coming online that was starting to look for solutions like we were providing. And a marketplace itself was pretty novel. You can call it timing. There was a lot of things that we were doing but in effect use those subscription fees, those membership fees and just reinvested them into Google AdWords.
Andrew: I see, and when business found via Google AdWords, that would come to the site, book a voice over artist and then pay you and then you would pay the voice over artist. So you were also getting a cut of what the business was paying.
David: Yeah, and that actually didn’t come about for several years afterwards. It’s a payments service in effect where there is a 10% transaction fee that is charged to the clients when they hire somebody through the website. So they can go on and post a job completely free. Get all these auditions, people recording a sample of their script, it might be 30-60 seconds but enough for them to get a flavor of ‘OK. Yeah. This is the person I want to work with.’ And the talent quotes on the job and we add on a 10% transaction fee so the talent has complete control over what they are going to get paid for the work, because we add on the 10% and charge it to the client. But we were a subscription only service for a good 3-4 years and then added on the transactional platform.
Andrew: So at first you weren’t charging businesses?
David: At first we weren’t charging the businesses. You know Shark Tank? In Canada they have Dragon’s Den which is the same concept. I went on the show Dragon’s Den, got an invitation. It was the first year. It was the pilot and they were even auditioning the Dragon’s themselves and gave the pitch of a lifetime and long story short they all turned me down. But they give some great advice which was “You got to be charging. You’ve got this two-sided marketplace. You’ve got to be charging the big corporations using you.”
We could see because the email address is. At this time it was kind of a self-serve platform. We knew who these users were. And you know, and I’m explaining this to these panel of judge entrepreneurs and they’re just like shocked. They’re like, “You’ve got to be charging them something.” So, I took that, went home and built this kind of flowcharted out this kind of transactional platform and then you know again worked with other web developers. People who actually had the skills to pull this off. I always kind of knew what I wanted and maybe that’s kind of the message here.
For those people who have the aspiration. It’s a matter of, you know, not necessarily learning the skills yourself. You know that’s something you’ll kind of need to come to terms with is being an entrepreneur. You want so desperately to learn it all but you just can’t. Right? And so, knowing what areas what you’re great at. And I played Legos all the time as a kid. And I was really good at flowcharting things out, following instructions, developing processes, but I don’t have to necessarily have to be the one that builds like, you know, I can be the logic person but not actually the code, coding person and so finding somebody to complement those skill sets could be designer, developer role as well or you know, front end sales guy, back end developer, whatever that kind of partnership plays out as. Then, look for that to complement any kind of gaps that you might have in your skill set as opposed to doing them all yourself.
Andrew: We talked about how you funded the first version of the business, the first web development work you hired by selling your old recording equipment. You then went and got a four year loan that you blew in about. How long?
David: Oh goodness. In probably about 30 days.
Andrew: Thirty days. What happened?
Andrew: First, how did you get the loan? Because I think it’s hard for a new business to get a loan. Isn’t it?
David: Absolutely. Well, I had initially a loan for the recording equipment. Which was I think was about $15,000. And I know had acquired kind of bits and pieces over the years since then. So as I mentioned I had. You know, we ended up selling all that recording equipment. Yes, we hired a web developer. I also paid off that first loan early. So, I think right away, I probably made, you know, made a credit score of, looked a little healthier.
So when it came time to seeking another loan for some working capital to grow the company, to execute this kind of marketing idea that I had, that it was approved. It was actually for $30,000 and the concept was, you know, going back to that idea of, how do I. If I can’t go travel the world and tell everyone about Voices, how do I bring them to our website? And how do I… So. I know once they are on the website, they might see the phone number. I can get a hold of them that way. So, you know, I was reading a lot about direct mail and thought wow this is really novel. You know, kind of, interrupt somebody. Give some really compelling message. You know, everyone’s. You know, it’s a huge industry and so I found a firm locally that did direct mail for the biggest corporations in the city. Really kind of high gloss, high touch stuff and so they created this campaign for us that was. Not 30 days, more like 45 days, but certainly fast enough.
It was to send a jumbo size postcard to a mailing list of advertising agencies in New York City and Los Angeles. Kind of the two creative hubs, if you will, and they wouldn’t just get this jumbo sized postcard once, but they would get it every two weeks for six weeks. Right. So, they would kind of, and the story would build and the. I figured to amplify it, how are we actually going to bring them to the website? We included this, the first generation iPod. We were going to give away an iPod if they came to the website and put in their email address and then there would be a draw.
And they ended up sending out 15,000 postcards and you know, I’m like, “Did you send them out?” “Oh, yeah, we sent them out.” I’m like, “do you think they should be getting them by now?” And they’re, “yeah, yeah, I’m sure they’re getting them.” Because I’m like at the end of the campaign I go, ask our developer because I couldn’t do it. “Can you run the report on how many people filled out their email addresses?” And for $30,000 we got two email addresses. So we spent on a cost per lead basis, $7500 and of course, I felt that the high integrity…
Andrew: Fifteen thousand dollars. If you’re paying, it’s $30,000, right?
David: Yeah, fifteen thousand dollars, right. The high integrity thing to do was to literally put their names in a hat and draw one out to give away the iPod. And that’s exactly what we did. I’m like “this is ridiculous,” I’m like “one of these two people is going to win this.” Because we had already bought the iPod
Andrew: How did you make the mistake of doing that? You seem like someone who might have started a little bit slower and not invested all of the money in one thing.
David: I think it was, you hear the message of go big or go home, and I think I just went. Nowadays you can test all kinds of new ideas like that. There wasn’t a good way to do that, you know. We didn’t have any of the graphic design skills. I didn’t know how to buy lists. I didn’t know how to send a big bunch of postcards all at once. This firm was going to drive from Canada, go over the States to get this U.S. stamp put on these postcards. They were going to do all this. It was probably sounding a little bit too good to be true, but they were a very reputable company locally. I just had such high hopes that this was going to be this breakthrough event.
Now, the question you might be asking is, “Well, what was the lesson here?” Because obviously I’ve spent a long time thinking about this. Well, two: first is, when something goes bad, you got to turn the lemons into lemonade and figure out “well, ok, what did I get out of this?” I got two leads, not very good there. But what we did get was this whole visual brand because they had their designers create these kind of retro cartooney-looking characters, this animation, in effect, that became the visual identity for the company for years and years. And still the characters, you might spot them around the web, we call them Voice Guy and Voice Girl. We were able to kind of use that and re-purpose.
I asked for the original photoshop files and all the layers, so I got the color pallet, I got all these odd little after-effects that I was able to use, so that was one. We also got some copy, I thought really good copy, that hone in on what the value prop was. So I tried to get something out of it in terms of deliverables. The other one, if I may, is- and this is a really important lesson- when marketing, never ask your users or your recipients to change channels. And what I mean by that is, we were in effect saying, “Hey, get this postcard in your mailbox.” And think, advertising agency executives in New York City- I mean, these people have no time at all. You’ve got your postcard, walk over to your computer, you know, type in this URL.
You know, it probably got received by an executive assistant or some production manager or something beforehand. But go to your computer, then type it in, then fill out this form, it was just too much, right? We’re asking them to change from the print medium to the digital medium, and I think there was a huge disconnect there, so that was my lesson, you know. Had we spent $30,000 on Google adverts, that probably would have been a bit better.
Andrew: About five cents a click. So…
Andrew: The post cards did not work, ad words did work. It looks like SEO also worked for you in the early days. What did you do with search engine optimization in the early days?
David: Same hold true today. Stephanie is a really prolific blogger. She’s written over 3,000 articles. We started blogging. She would write long-form articles just, again, right in DreamWeaver, publish them online. Help and resources, tips and tutorials, and then Blogger came out, and we’re like “oh my goodness, now there’s an actual publishing platform. This is incredible.” And you can publish it right onto our domain. I’m like “this is even better.” So she started blogging. She blogged for over a year without a single comment. We couldn’t get anybody to engage, and so I was her best cheerleader.
But again, that did eventually drive traffic and people would start to explore other areas of the site. I promised the story, because again, this was, you know, up until 2007, we were interactivevoices.com; a bit of a mouthful, I know. And in fact, somebody even complained to us that their fingers got tired from typing too much. So, I was on this quest for changing the name. I wanted to do this whole rebranding, because “interactive” just pigeonholed us into this new media business, and I thought, look, there’s voiceovers, radio commercials, audiobooks, and podcasts, just a much bigger scope of what the possibilities were.
This is around the time of Twitter and Flickr launching, and everyone was dropping their vowels from names, like, “We’re going to be Voxr or Voicr.” We looked at vox.com and voxio[SP], and we put in a bid of $100,000 for vox.com, and Tony did not have $100,000. I would figure out how to cross that bridge if we won the auction. That didn’t work out, and I was feeling a bit discouraged. Rather than this whole name change and rebranding, maybe a name simplification was more in order. What if we could chop up the “interactive” and just be voices.com? So, I did what probably many of you entrepreneurs do, we go to Google and type in the domain and it came up as this website called “Silencing the Critical Voices in Your Head.” It was this medical journal. I realized, well, at least it’s not AT&T or “Voices: The Movie” or something.
This is a good lesson: rather than me, firstname.lastname@example.org, reaching out as to this fellow, saying, “Hey, would you sell your name?” I actually worked through a lawyer friend of mine, saying, “Do you think you could send this email to this fellow on my behalf?” Ask him if he’d sell the name, and if so, at what price. He came back and said $50,000. I was like, “OK, well, that’s less than the $100,000 that I was going to pay for vox,” but I totally did not have $50,000. I went to the three f’s: the friends, family, and fools; anybody that’s going to invest in the company to try to get us some money to acquire this name. Everybody said no. The banks all said no. Phil, my lawyer friend, taught me an important lesson, which is to never take no for an answer. Surely you can negotiate with this fellow.
So we went back, and I said, “We’ll offer a little bit more than half, $30,000.” But, I will pay him in $5000 increments. $5000 every quarter for the next six quarters. So, 5 times 6, $30,000. And, you know what? He went for the deal. So, for $5000, which I’m pretty sure I just cash-advanced on our credit card or something horribly foolish, we were able to get the name voices.com, and literally, over a weekend, copy all the files from one server onto the other one and just redirect all the traffic. And ta-da! We were voices.com on Monday. Everybody was so stoked, because it was just a great brand identity to be affiliated with. The blessing in disguise was really, at the time, we were doing AdWords, yes, we kind of dabbled in this, but Google, [??], one of the factors they were weighing quite heavily was the age of the domain name, because it’s one of those things you can’t really manipulate.
Voices.com was registered in 1998, which is the same year of Google itself, so it just looks like it’s been on the web forever. Literally, over that weekend, the traffic doubled if not tripled. We didn’t create any extra content; just this authority factor weighed into it, where we just started to scoop up a whole bunch more organic traffic. So, my way to make up this $5000 every quarter is to hit the pause button on Google AdWords, bank that money, so that when the bill came due with my obligation to wire the $5000 to this fellow for the domain name, I always had the money on hand. It was a bit of a shift of re-allocation of resources, if you will… [??]
Andrew: But we’re seeing a bunch of things. So, the domain helped you get more customers, more users; the AdWords that you were doing for a while there helped you and then you resumed your AdWords campaign. Sending out emails worked; sending out postcards did not. Your goal for the first year was to make $100,000 in sales. Did you do it the first year?
David: No. We were, admittedly, below the poverty line for the first couple of years. I think our first year of sales was $18,000…
David: That’s all profit, right? Then there’s expenses, and you still need to pay rent and eat.
Andrew: Before you go to the next number, how did you pay rent and eat when you were bringing in just $18,000 in sales?
David: We were pretty creative, I mean it was a small place that we had. We were just frugal, I guess. We didn’t borrow any other money.
Andrew: Don’t take this the wrong way but didn’t you feel like a loser than? Here you are with someone who you’re dating, who you’re in love with, you want to show her you’re the right guy for her to be with, you want to show yourself that life is good because you work so hard and you’re doing $18,000 between the two of you. $9,000 a person and from there you even have to subtract expenses. How do you deal with that?
David: For sure, well, right after Stephanie and I…, a year after we met we were married and we even had a baby at that time. So life moved pretty quickly for us…
David: so this goes back to the can… it’s holding on, and not in a foolishly, kind of naive sense but it’s holding on to that vision of “I know this can happen, I see the market potential, I know what we need to do” staying focused. You know, a lot of entrepreneurs just get distracted with the next, new shiny object. You know, I didn’t even have a mobile phone until the first iPhone came out. There were all kinds of devices and for sure…
Andrew: Yeah about half a decade or so after you launched…
David: Oh yeah.
Andrew: So then how do you deal with that feeling of maybe I’m the wrong person here, maybe things aren’t going my way in life, how do you continue despite those potential insecurities?
David: I think you need to have a partner, in this case, for better or worse, it was Stephanie who [provided] both the support of wife and husband combo but also literally [we were] partners on paper at – the business registry paper said we were partners. So this was a “failure is not an option” type approach to us, for us that we will [do this]. One thing that you have to have an abundance of when you start as an entrepreneur is time. This is why I said we literally did the research to find all those email addresses. We would spend as long as somebody would want to talk to us, they call our toll free number or we would call out and as long as somebody wanted to talk to us, we’ll deepen the relationship if you will because we had so much time on our hands.
Andrew: What else do you have to do, it’s not like you have thousands of screaming customers waiting for your attention.
David: Right, it’s not like we’d have a real job to go to or anything so this was our life.
Andrew: So you were saying, first year $18,000, the goal was to get to a $100,000 a year, how long did it take you to hit that number?
David: It took us three, I think it was three or four years? Because it was 18, 36, 72 it was pretty much doubling and then it was like 180 or so after that so, yeah, definitely, it takes a while. Which, even nowadays Stephanie and I – our team here I mentioned is almost 70 people and most of the team has been here for less than a year. So where we remember it… I remember eating beans and rice and crap dinners and hand coding web sites on our own and learning all of those skills. Whereas I think when sometimes people from our team – it’s like the overnight success story that’s ten years in the making, right? And….
Andrew: And speaking of, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, it’s not like it just kept doubling, doubling, doubling and everything was good, there was a period there where the credit card company that you were working with held onto hundreds of thousands of dollars – what happened there?
David: For sure, so we had, I mentioned this kind of transactional platform between buyers and sellers, for whatever reason there’s a period where there was somebody who was hiring voice talent for …
Andrew: Let’s give it a moment for the connection …[A back] sorry, “There was someone who was hiring voice talent…” and then the connection broke for a second.
David: Yep, there was somebody who was hiring voice talent for a video game using a fraudulent credit card and they were, in effect they would start with these small transactions, $250 then they would try $500 and then hire them again for $1500 or $2500 and they were such short little scripts, it was literally one of these too good to be true [things]. But the voice talent [figured] hey you want to pay me $2500 to read a page, that’s fine by me. And so they did that, not only with this one person’s credit card they went and signed up for another time, they did this five times for a total of probably it was around $50,000 of credit card fraud. I think it was 27, like fraudulent transactions. And the credit card company had had enough.
In fact all of the alarm bells went off and they call me up and they go, “Wow, when you, You’re doing an incredible amount … ” We were almost up to, I believe it was almost a million dollars business going through the website and when I first signed up for the credit card system, they said, “Just fill out the paperwork. How much business do you think you’re using?” I’m like, “I have no idea. Startup company. I don’t know.” “Well, throw out a number.” I’m like, “You know it would be nice if I did $100,000 a year.” “Okay, $100,000. What’s your average transaction size?” I’m like, “I have no idea.” They’re like, “Okay. Zero.” Well, the person on the other end inputs all that into the system.
Well, five years later goes by. Fraudulent credit card transactions occur. They call me up. They were like, “You were, you know, you were 17 times outside of our risk profile.” You know. “We should have shut you down years ago. We’re terminating our relationship with you.” I’m like, “You’re terminating our relationship? We have like 2,500 credit cards encrypted on your system.
Andrew: That’s supposed to be reoccurring year after year.
David: Yeah. Reoccurring transactions. Or encrypted so that people can use again on a one click basis and they’re like, “We don’t care. You’re done.” And I go, “Well okay. You know, you’re going to ruin us. Give me 30 days at least to switch providers.” And this was all in reaction to not just the fraudulent credit card because we had had one or two situations before but this was the height of the financial crisis. So, kind of, I think it was January 2009. Like, right after the worst of it really. Banks are failing. Any financial institution is eliminating all the risk that they can see and trying to scoop up money for wherever they can get it. So, during the 30 days period they continued to process the credit card transactions. So, our customers …
Andrew: Because you’re desperate. You need it. They get keep that money.
David: But they weren’t advancing us. They weren’t dispersing the payments into our bank account. They were holding all of it. And this was just brutal. I mean on one hand, the cash is being charged to the customer. We see it building up in this account that we don’t have access to because they haven’t actually pushed it to our operating bank account. And that was probably the most difficult time. Again a team of seven, eight people we had all kinds, obviously, operating bills, payroll. So, the first thing we did was transition as much business over to PayPal as we could. Still that was a lot of effort in order to do so. So, PayPal was really kind of a backup system which again, speaking lessons learn. That was another great one. Have multiple methods of processing a credit card.
Andrew: Let me just underline that. That is so important. First merchant processors are a pain in the butt because they could do this to you. They could completely disappear.
David: Oh yeah.
Andrew: And second, you should have the, you should have a couple of different merchant processors in case you have trouble with you, you should be able to move to the other. It took me a long time to have that really, really critical. I’ve never had a problem where someone shut me off like you, but I have backup. I have Stripe. I have PowerPay. We have PayPal and I think we even have one other one and that’s really important.
David: Absolutely. Yes. So, that was. I mean, that’s where I kind of learned on the back end of this. But during that time, you know, they’re giving me 30 days. I’m just hustling. I mean, I’ve got to call and find a new credit card merchant processor and of course, they’re all asking, “So, are, why are you shopping around?” I’m like, “Just looking for a better deal.” Which was totally true.
David: I was looking for a better deal. And, eventually found a new provider where it was a better deal. Lower, you know, transaction fees. And, the, you know, so, builds, reintegrate with their systems and they get me right at the very end, “Okay, before we go live, we’re going to need a $30,000 security deposit.” I’m like, “You’re kidding me.” And
Andrew: Talk to this other merchant who has my money.
David: Yeah. Exactly. And you know and so I totally nobody. We have to. We ended up getting, I think it was a second mortgage on the house just to kind of get through this period. And because we knew, if I can give them the security deposit. I can start processing this back fill of. Because there were some people who called in which, credit cards over the phone. We literally just wrote them on slips and didn’t process them because why would be process them in the old company that’s just going to hold on to our money for, who knows when? We figured we would process it on the new system. So, we got VISA first on the new system, processed all those paper transactions, and then with that ended up with cash to get the $20,000 security deposit for Mastercard, and then processed all of those.
Andrew: So can you move the old credit card numbers that you had with the previous merchant, or do you have to tell – no – they are stuck there…?
David: You have to tell 2,000 people, the really tough, and again at the height of the financial crisis no one wants to share any, you know I don’t do any business with anybody. So we have to tell all them that we switched providers, and it’s going to be better service for them, and lower fees for us. We got to switch you over, and in that, yeah, you lose customers for sure.
Andrew: And that’s a tough thing, David, is there a merchant that will allow you, or a process that will allow you to store people’s credit cards, so that you’re not defending on another merchant? There is, but it’s hard, because there’s too many new rules.
David: I think there’s a, and I found out afterwards, the liability of having those credit card slips is like $500 per credit card. You can get fined major money for not storing credit card data securely, which is why companies like Stripe are so good because it offloads that risk.
Andrew: I do think that with some, they will pass it to the next merchant, but I’m not 100%, I’m pretty sure we checked with Stripe and they said, “You can’t have the number but we’ll make it accessible to you if you need to move.”
David: Right, and there are definitely different options out there, and it’s definitely up to every business to find kind-of what fits for them. During this whole period, I’m holding on to the fact that when I switch providers and say, “Yeah, shut down the old provider”, then I’m thinking they’re just going to front us the $500 grand that had accumulated at this point over the last 60 days with them. And I think the business was $500 grand, it might’ve been a couple hundred thousand dollars, probably closer to 200-250.
And, when I made the call to them and said, “Yep, we’re done with you.” they’re like “Okay.” and I’m like, “So… are you going to disperse the funds to me?” and they’re like, “Nope, we don’t have to.” I’m like, “What do you mean you don’t have to?” they’re like, “Well, we can actually, according to our terms of service, because of all the credit card fraud, there could be more credit card fraud, in which case we don’t want to do reversals and have to get the money back from you afterwards. We’re just going to keep all of it for 6 months.” I was like, “What? So you’re literally holding my money hostage for 6 months when I don’t even do business with you guys.”
And as a consumer, when you have to dispute a transaction, you only have like 30 days to dispute it. Why are you holding it for 6 months? So, you feel so helpless, there’s nothing you can do. So I literally said “That’s unacceptable, how about the oldest transactions, you release…” I think I got them to like 20% of it they released every month. So I literally called them every single month for 6 months and just said “I want my next 20%”, and just wound it down until, at a certain stage, they just go “Okay, here’s your last 20%.”
Andrew: Go you for not taking what they gave you, because frankly they have so much power over you, what are you going to do? Go sue them? How are you going to fight these guys? You have to run a business and you don’t have the money to fight them!
David: Exactly, so it was a matter of, as I “Just rise above it.” You’ve got to get over that, realize that is the situation that you’re in, face the facts, and forge ahead, and build your contingency plans accordingly, which is, I’m like “well great, I’m glad I got the second mortgage, I know it’ll get paid off in 6 months, because I’ll use that cash to basically repay us for the personal investment that we made into the business.” You just kind of get really creative, and it goes back to that saying to never take no to an answer. She says “Oh, we’re going to hold your money for 6 months”, well, come on, that’s unreasonable, you’ve got to do something here.
Andrew: What can we do about the first month, the oldest at least, let’s talk about that, and you find a way. Where are your sales today? What kind of revenues are you doing in 2014?
David: We will be crossing $14 to $15 million this year, so pretty sizable.
Andrew: Yeah, it’s a long way from $18,000 a year.
David: Exactly, exactly. So yeah, it’s, and we certainly don’t see any of that slowing down. I mean I think the growth chart…Yeah there’s a few, obviously a few, rough quarters there but for the growth chart more or less every year’s been…
Andrew: When was a rough quarter?
David: Well just that…
Andrew: The period that we just talked about?
David: Yeah exactly.
Andrew: By the way, I’m looking to see where you’re getting your traffic today and something stands out when I look at your SimilarWeb.com account. IQtell.com sends you a lot of traffic, is that because you guys buy traffic from there?
David: I’ve never heard of IQtell.
Andrew: I’ve never heard of IQtell either, but according to Similar Web it’s something like 40% of your non-ad buying traffic comes from there. IQtell it’s, so I looked it up to see what it is, kind of interesting software. What they do is they do email, plus Ever Note, plus Snoozing, plus all kinds of stuff to make easy for you to get to Inbox Zero, any way I can’t figure what you guys are doing there. Another thing they say sends you traffic is WordStream.com. Which is ad buying so you guys still do a lot of ad buying?
David: Yeah. Are you looking at Voices.com, are you sure? Those are I mean…
Andrew: Yeah I was wondering about that too. I see…
David: I thought you were going to say like Reddit or like a few years ago it was like Stumble Upon. We got a lot of traffic from Stumble upon.
Andrew: I see HomeWithKids.com which I’m guessing is advertised to hire people.
David: Yeah there’s a mommy blogger that writes about us.
Andrew: What do they…they write about you and that’s like a job for parent’s right?
David: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Yeah I don’t know everything else makes sense in there including oDesk. What do you guys do with oDesk?
David: Well the voice talent get profiles on Voices.com and then probably go, “What other kind of freelancer marketplaces are out there?” So they’ll go create a profile on eLance or oDesk and then include links of samples of their work back to Voices.
Andrew: What about Voice123 sends you traffic? I thought they were competitors of yours.
David: Yeah they’re definitely a competitor. I’m wondering if this isn’t maybe click behavior as opposed to direct…
Andrew: Click into the site.
David: Yeah but I’m not sure, I mean I would be shocked. I mean there was a while where Voice123 had a forum and they had written, it was really funny, they had written in fact a PHP script that any time somebody was mentioning Voices.com or including a link to us it would like override this link and add a bunch of stars, like they didn’t even want us mentioned. So I would be surprised that they had a direct link to us. I think maybe it’s, maybe this is sample data where somebody had some toolbar that obviously people go from Voice123 to Voices.com but I can’t imagine people clicking from those sites.
Andrew: What do you think of…?
David: I’m with Google Analyst every day so I’d be surprised.
Andrew: What do you think of Alex and Voice Bunny, and Voice123 restarted? I actually saw you take on Google years ago, maybe it’s like 2006. Do you remember that, that Google decided they were going to help people find voices for ads that they were doing, and they were essentially checking out your website every, not every day, but every minute of the day, and then you started fighting with them. So, or you took them on, you started standing up to them. What do you think of Voice Bunny or Voice123?
David: Yeah, they’re you know certainly a direct competitor. There’s a lot of other Me2 sites that would just be more as a directory, but you know to their, Voice Bunny and 123’s credit they certainly have a platform that does connect buyers and sellers. Where I think we ultimately differ is that we view, we view that there needs to be obviously a hybrid approach between the hands-on customer service right back to the toll-free phone number, or the live chat, and so-forth where they’re certainly a team of, primarily a team of developers that build great…
You know Voice Bunny is a purely automated tool as is Voice123 in a lot of ways and they don’t have a payment platform. So they do a great job on kind of connecting these two parties together, but the actual follow through and facilitating a transaction end-to-end is I feel kind of where we differ, and so we’ve pursued a patent around that payment platform where they’ve…
Andrew: Which payment platform? You mean the one where people pay you and you pass the money, the right amount of money on to the voice-over artist?
Andrew: I see, by the way, I’m going to send you this; I’m going to send you screen shots from Similar Web. Usually people say, “I can’t believe you have all this data. It sounds so perfect.” This is the first time that someone’s said, “It doesn’t seem right.” So I’ll send you some screenshots maybe there’s something here that will make sense to you.
Having done this, gone from idea to executing it and bringing just $18,000 in sales a year to battling with the credit card company and winning, to figuring out marketing, to getting a great freaking domain name, Voices.com is incredible, and all of that. What’s the best part of having made it?
David: I think that it’s still as interesting as ever. I mean Stephanie…What’s the best part of going through all this?
David: We have taken a, I would say, a radically different approach to building a company. Stephanie remain the two sole shareholders of the company, we’ve not for lack of trying, but we don’t have any other external investors, no venture capitalist’s involved, and at this stage a lot of the advice is, “Man you’ve built the company and you can kind of pursue that dream with as much vigor and intensity as you did at the beginning without the burden, if you will, of reporting requirements to a board of directors and be at risk of losing the CEO job, because somebody more high profile comes in and is needed.” So I think the best thing is that we’ve been able to maintain the ownership, which has all of the…the correlating benefits of really the freedom aspect of it, the creativity, we want to go to a conference we can go to a conference. You know develop budgets that we think are reasonable, pursue the projects that we want to pursue. So I think that’s what’s been of most benefit.
Andrew: And that you’ve been able to do it with your wife is incredible. Most people can’t stay married as long as you guys have been together let alone run a company too.
David: We live, breathe, eat, and sleep life together. So it’s the funny thing is there’s a lot of these kind of like side benefits of like…when we come home and we’re talking over dinner yeah the kitchen table sometimes doubles as the board room table, but we know who we’re talking about. I’m not having to explain who a competitor is, or she’s not explaining like a difficult customer service situation, or I’m not talking about…
Andrew: I know what you’re talking about. I have that with my wife, where I’m explaining something and then I have to give a lot of back story to explain who this person is, and then why the company matters…
Andrew: Yeah, it’s I get that.
David: She just gets it so I’m like, “Whew.” So that kind of stuff is pretty cool, and we get…
Andrew: Did you guys get to a place where you could see a million dollars in the bank yet?
David: We are there, we’re getting there. Yeah we’re pretty close.
Andrew: Congratulations, and the view. I know most people will read the transcript or listen to the audio, but the view is phenomenal over your shoulder. Great office, I was looking at it the whole time we were talking, and its giant. I mean I’m in San Francisco and no one has office space that big.
David: It’s a great; it’s a great city so it’s…
David: pretty cool.
Andrew: Yeah really cool.
Alright the website is, for anybody who wants to check it out, I’m going to click over it to right now myself. I have your website open in so many of tabs, all these iterations over the years, the website is Voices.com and it’s easy to spell, easy to go to. David congratulations on all the success and thank you for coming here and talking about how you did it.
David: You’re very welcome. Thanks for having me today.
Andrew: You bet. Thank you all for being a part of it, bye everyone.