Turning a Dream into an Animated Reality
It's not often that students graduate with a business already off the ground. For Brandyn Chambers, who graduated from Columbia College in May 2016 with a bachelor's degree in finance and business administration, it was the coming together of a long-held dream.
As the CFO of animation studio Flydra, Chambers is networking and building his business, which began in middle school with friend Jabril Mack.
"We were making cartoons at a young age and always imagined making a business of making animations," he said. And now Mack and a few fellow University of Southern California graduates have worked with Chambers to make Flydra more than just a dream.
"[In college] I got a call from Jabril asking if I wanted to be a part of it because he believed I could make the studio thrive," Chambers said.
Winning 'Audience Choice' and snagging second place in the Columbia College Business Pitch Competition gave Chambers $4,000 of investment money, which he put into more advanced technology for the studio.
Director of the Fishman Center of Entrepreneurship at Columbia College Raja Bhattacharya said it was Chambers' story that grabbed the audience and potential investors.
"His presentation was packed with animation and very visual," Bhattacharya said. "He laid out his value proposition very clearly and showed the future potential of Flydra. He also showed that the animated content market is growing, an important indicator for any start-up."
His business savvy is apparent when asked about the future of Flydra.
"When it comes to planning, we ultimately have phases that we go through," Chambers said of the studio's five-year plan. "The last phase is 'Phase 5.' Right now we are in Phase 2 because we are still acquiring clients and building up our network. In five years we are hoping to be in Phase 3-4 which would be having an established network of constant clientele and acquiring Anchor Clients."
So how does someone so young manage to get a growing business off the ground while also earning a bachelor's degree?
Well, it's no doubt that teamwork helped.
With Chambers managing the financial and networking side of things, the rest of the Flydra team takes the lead on the animation creation. The group has already worked with Google, Nicktoons, Red Robin and Little Tikes.
Of course, having something of the entrepreneurial spirit helps.
"Brandyn fully embraces the entrepreneurial spirit," Bhattacharya said. "He is energetic, passionate about what he does, has very good social skills, likes to take calculated risks and can identify future opportunities clearly."
But Bhattacharya said that there is really no way to understand the process of starting a business until actually in the thick of it.
"You will never fully experience what it is like to start a venture until you do it. There is no substitute to this process," he said.
And as to starting a business while completing your education? Surprisingly, Bhattacharya said it's a good idea.
"Believe it or not, but one of the best times to start a business is while you are pursuing your degree. The amount of business resources (including access to faculty and outside mentors) that you can be exposed to while pursuing your education can be invaluable," he said.
So while you might not be ready to juggle the demands of both a business and a degree quite yet, don't limit yourself. Starting early is a great way to get your foot in the door and build your network.
As for the future of Flydra, Chambers only had one thing to say: "Keep updated with us or you might miss out on some exciting things!"
Check out some of the work Flydra has done for Columbia College about our fixed rate tuition here!:
Thumbnail image provided by Flydra.