I first met the Voicestar guys back in 2005. They were among the pioneers of the pay-per-call market -- and I recall being amazed by how much they accomplished with no outside money. They funded their first year of operations by consulting in their "spare time". Todd was a coding animal -- writing every line of code in the product by himself. And Ari was an unbelievably persistent (and persuasive) business development machine -- singlehandedly managing a pipeline of over 100 prospects.
And in March of 2006 Voicestar raised their first round of outside capital (with First Round Capital ultimately becoming their largest outside investor). Voicestar has continued to be a model of capital efficiency -- only raising about $1 Million since inception. And they executed perfectly -- growing nearly 20% month-over-month and signing up over 200 publisher partners (including some major metro newspapers, the yellow pages giant R.H. Donnelley (RHD), and Val-Pak (CEI), the coupon publisher).
As a result of their capital efficiency and limited dilution, the founders were in a position to take advantage of what I previously have called "The New Dual Track." The fact that a company can exit for $20 million and still be a "win" for both founders and investors is definitely illustrative of some major changes in the startup/venture ecosystem.
I wish the entire team the best of luck at Marchex -- and hope our paths cross again soon. Ari and Todd are a class act - two hard-core entrepreneurs who built a real business the hard way. A bottle of Dom is on the way...