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 David Ciccarelli, chief executive officer of Voices.com  (Mark Spowart for the Globe and Mail)

 David Ciccarelli, chief executive officer of Voices.com 

(Mark Spowart for the Globe and Mail)

CHALLENGE CONTEST RUNNERS-UP

Voice-over talent site's growth plan better translates one language at a time Add to ...

Interactive Voices Inc. (Voices.com)

Where based: London, Ont.

What the company does: A website that connects companies with voice-over talent

The company’s challenge:

Voices.com has become a destination for companies wanting to hire voice talent, but right now its website is all in English. Founder and chief executive officer David Ciccarelli has been getting calls from a number of corporate clients seeking talent who can speak other languages.

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While he does have some who can speak more than English, he thinks he could drive more international business by creating sites for specific languages. He’d like to expand his 25-employee company’s offerings to 10 different languages, which requires the creation of new, translated websites and mobile apps. He thinks he can increase sales, which hit $2.2-million in 2011, by about at least $100,000 in the first year, and $500,000 a year following that after he gets these new sites up and running.

He says he needs $100,000 to get this done; the money would go toward developing the new sites, translating his current text and redoing his app.

What the judges advise:

Start small

It’s likely more cost-effective if he focuses on one or two of the most in-demand languages first, says Chris Griffiths, director of Toronto-based business consulting firm Fine Tune Consulting. As well, translation or website coding mistakes will affect every site, which could end up increasing costs. “It’s better to start with a couple and learn about the inevitable, unexpected issues and problems,” he says. “Then move forward in a broad range of languages.”

Cut elsewhere to fund growth

If Voices.com really wants to move forward, it should examine its books and find ways to save money, advises Jim Senko, vice-president of small- to medium-sized business marketing for Telus Corp. A lot of businesses, he says, make investments that don’t pay off. Find those investments, cut back and spend the money on developing these new websites. “Stop other things and then take those funds and go for it,” he says.

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