64: Voiceover – Interview with Armin Hierstetter from Bodalgo

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I used to work in publishing before I became self employed in 2008 when I launched bodalgo. [pauses] Boy, is that really already more than a decade ago? Anyway: Because I learned programming with a Commodore 64 and later Atari ST, I had a pretty good understanding about programming when I came up with the idea to create bodalgo. 

What inspired you to start this business?

In 2004, I landed my first voiceover job. I was not trained at all. Still, I though: Hey, I am a voiceover talent! I sent my demo to many agencies but none of them could be bothered to even reply. So I thought: Maybe there is something online? I found a p2p website for English talents and thought: Something like this surely exists for the German market. Turned out: It did not. In late 2007 there still had been nothing, so I thought: Nobody will start this – I have to do it myself. Three months later, bodalgo launched. And, oh boy, did that website look crap back then [laughs] …

What would be your unique selling point, in comparison to for example Voice123?

Bodalgo only features vetted talents whereas most other websites, including v123, accept anyone with a credit card. This is a major concern because it leads to various things: On the one hand, professional talent find themselves in bad neighborhood alongside with amateurs. Far more concerning, though: Not vetting the talents is the path to mediocrity at best. Because clients will be presented with sub par demos all the time. This might change how they generally perceive quality. If you listen to amateur quality most of the time, you will accept this level of quality as standard. Over a period of time, your perception changes: Because of the lower quality on average, client’s might be willing to accept lower quality levels because they are used to them. Of course, it should be exactly the other way round: All demos should reflect outstanding quality. This is not the case with most of the websites out there.

Is Munich a good place to have your company headquarters?

Have you ever been to a Bavarian beer garden? Munich is the best place in the world for any HQ [laughs]… But seriously: Munich offers everything you could ask for. Only downside: It is very expensive.

How important is social media for your company?

Social media is the key platform to stay in touch with voice talents. I am members in many FB groups that deal with day-to-day chit chat as well as the concerns of talents. I think I am pretty well connected with many talents because of Facebook and the likes. It would be much more difficult to get your ear in the market without social media.
When it comes to the clients, the story is totally different. Even on more business oriented platforms like LinkedIn, increasing your customer base is a challenge as voice-over is a pretty special market.

Who do you think is the most accomplished entrepreneur you’ve met?

I have never met him in person, unfortunately, but I have always thought that Steve Jobs was one of the best entrepreneurs of all time. His creativity, his dedication and his attention to detail – I can not think of anybody else that has inspired so many people while building one of the most successful companies in the world at the same time. I cried when I found out he died.

Any books about entrepreneurship you can recommend?
To be honest: I do not recall I have read any books on entrepreneurship. I have a marketing degree, though, and I think that a basic understanding of marketing is essential in every business, no matter if how big or small it might be. Even a solo entrepreneurship needs marketing, no doubt about this.

What’s your favorite app?

Spotify. It’s great to have millions of songs at your fingertip. And lots of audio books for your kids, too!

What’s your fondest memory working on this business?

There are way too many to point out a single one. What always amazes me is the helpfulness of the voiceover community, especially in America and UK.

To learn more about Armin’s company please visit Bodalgo.com