Benjamin Warner: Eight years ago, when we launched the company, I was working in a job that I wasn't enjoying, that had nothing to do with what I studied in school. I wanted to create a work life for myself that could involve an industry and community that I'm more passionate about.
Julian Stamboulieh: I've always wanted to live my life as a storyteller. I wasn't sure what medium that would come about in, be it game development, performance, or filmmaking. I just knew I wanted to tell stories for a living. Beanduck was created as a means of using different mediums to tell compelling narratives. Our latest project, Dystonia, is actually about to premiere at the 2019 Toronto Shorts International Film Festival on Friday, November 15th. Dystonia is a short film about a violinist named James Wong (played by Kenny Wong) who, while studying at McGill University, is diagnosed with Focal Hand Dystonia: a neurological movement disorder causing the muscles of a player’s hand to involuntarily contract. We are really proud of this project.
How did the idea for your business come about?
BW: Julian and I studied in creative fields and had some professional experience in those areas. By combining our skill sets and complimenting each other's strengths and weaknesses, I saw an opportunity to work creatively and professionally together.
JS: Benjamin and I entered a national competition to produce a commercial for a Montreal-based company. No one else applied...we won by default... So yeah, we made a company.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
BW: Neither of us had any entrepreneurial experience, or finance education. That's something we have had to teach ourselves as we go along. In launching our own studio space and providing services that are resulting in regular revenue for the company, we now see what it's like to have a more stable financial base.
JS: When starting a new venture, it's hard to designate time to your personal life. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the professional demands, especially in film, when you have a very unconventional schedule. When I figure out how to balance work and life I'll let you know!
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
BW: I'm currently (re)reading Gail Simone's New 52 Batgirl run. I'm constantly revisiting all the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition books. I believe entrepreneurs in creative fields should keep their imaginations as active as possible. I'm also currently reading a vegan cookbook.
JS: I read a lot of graphic novels, my favorites being Maus. An entrepreneurial podcast I'd highly recommend is How I Built This.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it?
BW: I think, if my family's ever been concerned about my life choices (be they personal or professional), it's only come from a place of wanting what's best for me. I try to remind myself that advice coming from family/friends/anyone in your life, is not the be all and end all. It's important to listen to advice and take what is useful, but be comfortable following your own path if you know that's what's best for you. Everyone has different opinions and perspectives.
JS: Traditionally, entrepreneurs and artists face similar concerns, such as a lack of stable income. I'm fortunate that my family has always been supportive and understand how important it is to me to be pursuing my passions as an entrepreneur.
What would you do differently in hindsight? What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
BW: In hindsight, I would have opened a studio much sooner. It has expanded our reach and potential exponentially.
JS: It's easy,when you're working on a passion project, to lose sight of the long-term growth of your company. When you become too absorbed in the moment, it can be hard to capitalize on your successes in a sustainable way. It's important to live in the moment, but have your eyes on the big picture. When it comes to business success, knowing our weaknesses is key because it allows us to seek out help in the appropriate areas.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
BW: I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished. If I had known at the beginning that I would feel this amount of pride, it would have motivated me even further eight years ago.
JS: Healthy progress takes time. It's ok to celebrate little wins, especially with those who helped you achieve them.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
BW: Listen. To. People. Do not be close-minded. Listen and collaborate. The more channels you are open to, the greater chance you have of succeeding.
JS: Trust your gut, while also being constructively critical of your own work.