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Stephanie Ciccarelli, Co-founder of Voices.com
Stephanie Ciccarelli, Co-founder of Voices.com

Voices.com – A Passion Pursued

Stephanie Ciccarelli is Co-founder of Voices.com, an online marketplace connecting people with voice-over talent. Classically trained in singing and music, Stephanie is a true believer in the power of voice. Throughout her 17-year journey as company founder, she has harnessed the power of her creativity and passion, having helped more than 500,000 registered voice actors and clients connect through the Voices.com platform.

 

Lazaridis Institute: Prior to co-founding Voices.com, your personal and professional background was in the performance arts, specifically music and singing. Can you share what the transition from music to voice over was like? 

Stephanie Ciccarelli: Ever since I was a child, my voice has played a vital role in how I live and what I see my purpose to be. As the years progressed, it became clear that my voice was integral to whatever I was going to do. Voice acting first came on my radar when I read scripts for a radio commercial and a telephone system. As I soon discovered, voice acting was another way I could use my instrument to communicate. Instead of cuddling up to a grand piano, it’s cozying up to a microphone. The beauty of voice over is that the message takes centre stage, not the messenger.

While I didn’t become the next Celine Dion (as was my plan), I have been blessed to take the best parts of what I love and combine them with a calling to serve a market that I not only know, but care deeply for. It’s a constituency of storytellers, creatives, and artists using their voices to educate, entertain, inform, and inspire.

 

LI: You and your husband, David Ciccarelli, co-founded Voices.com in 2003. What trends were happening at that time that helped facilitate the early growth of the company?

SC: It was the beginning of the Web 2.0 movement. Nearly everything and everyone was going online. Existing markets were ripe for disruption. The iPod was in its nascent stages of user adoption, “American Idol” was at the height of popularity, and the rise of freelancing laid the groundwork for what we know now as the gig economy.

On the technological front, high-end audio recording equipment became affordable, recording software was easier to obtain and use, and home studios were becoming a must-have in the world of voice acting.

Having two founders who represented equal and opposite sides of the coin – industry expertise on one side, the ability to gather people together to achieve a common goal on the other – positioned Voices.com to not only compete, but lead.

 

LI: What were some of the challenges you had to overcome during those early years?

SC: As a performing artist, you get paid for doing what you love. Not many artists see their gift as anything other than a way to make a living doing what you do best: bringing joy to people, walking with them through their pain, and exploring the depths of the human experience through one of the most vulnerable forms of artistic expression. To share your voice, whether figuratively or literally, is really the sharing of yourself.

Reconciling being a creative founder with communicating effectively in a business context has proven challenging, but not impossible. I studied personality types and different frameworks for understanding who I am and how my personality interacts with others. Discovering who I was, where I stood, and how to bridge very different worlds was crucial to establishing a good rapport with those inhabiting the worlds of business, banking, and private equity.

Stephanie's advice for creative founders 

As a creative founder and artistic soul, I skew more on the side of passion. Passion is a powerful force. Over time, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me best leverage this incredible emotion:

  • Being passionate about your business is healthy. Being passionate about why you are doing what you do is healthy.
  • Being passionate means that you care deeply. It’s a calling. When you’ve been called to do something, you put your whole self into it. Once you’re all-in, learning how to harness your passion is critical.
  • Finding a way to bridle (ever so slightly, mind you) your passion and bringing it under control could be one of your biggest assets.
  • As an entrepreneur, it’s the fire inside that makes you who you are. No one knows your business or your customers better than you. No one knows what motivates you more than you. On those days when you want to give up, the fire will pull you through. Remember who you are, the reason you’re here, and why the work you do matters
Voices.com participated in Cohort 4 of the Lazaridis ScaleUp Program. Learn more about the Lazaridis ScaleUp Program.
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