Jalil Sadool, co-founder of Steamroller Studios, is admittedly an accidental entrepreneur, but that does not diminish the swift and solid success his startup has experienced in its first two years since launching officially in 2014. "My goal as an artist was never to create a company," he said. "My dream was always to learn the craft and make myself a better artist. Entrepreneurship was something I fell into. It wasn't something I planned."
Sadool and his co-founders launched their video game, animation and film post-production firm as a way to satisfy their personal passions. "It’s easy to get burned out and tired working on the big films we were working on. Movies like the Hobbit and Avatar carry a lot of pressure with them because of their multi-million dollar budgets. For those and a few other reasons, we wanted to move away from the big productions and do something for ourselves. We were tired of working on someone else's vision and story. We wanted to tell our own story."
The Steamroller Studios partners began by working on their own passion project on the side while still retaining their jobs at major production studios. The turning point came after attendees at a large gaming conference gave Sadool and his partners such amazing feedback on their game that they began discussing making the leap to full-time entrepreneurs.
"When we saw their reaction to our game, we got excited about it because as an artist sometimes you need someone else to tell you what you're doing is cool," Sadool said. "Seven to eight months later we decided to quit our jobs and start Steamroller Studios. We raised $100,000 through a Kickstarter campaign but quickly ran out of money and manpower. We pivoted to include contract work so we could take the revenue from helping clients and use it to finish our game."
Within two years, Steamroller Studios has grown from three partners to 20 employees. "We were able to grow in part because we have the experience and the network of industry veterans. We were able to land some larger projects in only one year because we have a great reputation in the industry. Because of the trust we have within that network, simple word of mouth brings in most of our projects."