After studying architecture and design at the American University of Sharjah, and working in the field of electronic marketing, Hazem Alhabbal decided to delve into something new. He launched Panda VoiceOver in Saudi Arabia, in 2015. Panda VoiceOver is a startup that provides professional voiceover services.
Delving Into a New Field
Alhabbal tells WAYA about how he got the idea for his startup: “In 2014 we were working on a video project, and before submitting the work the customer asked to record a text for the video. When we informed him that we do not provide this service, he decided to cancel the project. It took us 10 working days to find the right person for the job. Additionally, the cost was relatively high. That was when we realized that there is a gap in the voiceover market. We decided that the gap needs to be filled to make communication fast and provide clients with multiple options.”
The startup’s biggest challenge was that they did not have a strong network in the field when they started. While researching the market in 2015 they found only 70 people in the Arab world working as voice actors. As they started to reach out and contact people, they began to sign on some actors. Initially, 30 voice actors joined the startup knowing that joining was free.
Selling Voices for a Living
The startup now has approximately 5,000 voice actors in its network and has offered its services to over 400 clients.
In 2019, Panda VoiceOver launched private studios in Jeddah and Dubai. These provide voiceover services, quality assurance, express delivery and podcast services. “We also manage large projects such as dubbing, which require unpacking and sometimes translating the text and coordinating the dubbed script,” says Alhabbal.
As for professional voice actors, the company measures the quality of voice acting skills. “We provide this service in a three-hour workshop, bringing together commentators with the voice commentator director, and the sound engineer to produce a practical assessment that explains the commentator on strengths and ways to reinforce them, weaknesses and ways to evaluate and treat them,” Alhabbal explains.
Under the slogan “Your Voice Equals Money”, the company launched the voice acting courses. Alhabbal says, “We started by offering the first audio caption course under this name to attract people’s attention to the profession, and commentators are then linked to clients, then linked to clients.”
In addition to renting their studios and setting up courses for the trainees, Panda VoiceOver’s income also includes a commission for selling voices.
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