When I hear about a tech company or tech start-up, I often imagine a Google-inspired cliché.
You know, the kind of place where there’s a foosball table on every floor, and recent grads mingle casually, making and drinking fancy coffees on the hour, sitting behind banks of flat computer screens, typing away on an indecipherable project that likely involves code of some kind. The dress is decidedly casual; shoes are optional. There may be dogs roaming the office, and everyone is at once laid back and working extremely hard.
The output and productivity are a mystery, as sometimes is the revenue model, but the place hums and looks like a great place not just to work but to hang out.
Like many clichés, this one is based on a kernel of truth. Many tech offices look like that, and many people love working in that type of atmosphere. But Google and Apple and Facebook didn’t become multi-billion dollar corporations by coddling employees with perks and benefits. They demand results, which can translate into long hours, crazy expectations and a lot of burnout among the foosball-playing, coffee-drinking proletariat.
My Business London May cover story is about Voices.com, one of London’s most successful tech companies. After several years of building its model and technology, it’s poised for significant growth in the next three to five years. Its founder, David Ciccarelli, hopes to crack $100-million in sales by 2020, up from more than $15-million this year.
To get there, the company is hiring at a feverish pace. Today’s 100 employees could be 200 later this year, 300 the following year and 400 by the end of 2018. Although some of those new people are the typical high-tech code-writers who fit into the foosball office cliché, most of them will be doing more conventional work: sales.
While one part of Voices.com focuses on the whiz bang technology that brings together voice talent and various agencies that hire voice talent, the other part is pounding the literal and figurative pavement, drumming up clients in North America and around the world. Like your local car salespeople, they work on a base-plus-commission system that rewards their success.
As Voices.com grows, it is gobbling up floor space downtown at 150 Dufferin Ave. One of its two floors is being renovated now to prepare for dozens of new employees coming on board every month. Most of them will be selling the company’s services rather than developing them. But that’s what it takes to crack $100-million in sales and perhaps go public shortly after reaching that goal.