Michael Thomas ’20 co-founded the media production company Triad Studios LLC in early 2018. The business, headquartered in North Carolina, focuses on showcasing clients’ purposes and visions through engaging and high-quality video stories. In two years, Triad Studios has completed more than 100 projects for a list of clients that includes university institutions, corporations, large nonprofits and commercial lifestyle brands.
Thomas, a finance and marketing double major from Cary, North Carolina, is the second person to be featured in a series of Today at Elon profiles highlighting student innovation and entrepreneurship. The senior Business Fellow takes an active role on video production as a creative director, while managing operations like internal processes, metric tracking and quality control.
He recently answered questions from the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business about his company, experiences and visions.
When did your interest in entrepreneurship begin?
I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship. Something about working for myself and building a meaningful, impactful company has always driven me to pursue this type of career. I started Triad Studios, a media production company specializing in videography, roughly two years ago with four other co-founders – Baaqir Yusuf, Tristan Gardner, Justin Fouts and Daniel Pan. The company has grown exponentially over the past two years as we’ve completed over 100 different projects for various clients across the country in Maine, Ohio, Texas and more.
What inspired you to found Triad Studios?
All the founders have a strong passion for videography and business. We were all primarily inspired by content on YouTube which we paired with our business degrees to ultimately form Triad Studios.
How did you go about creating your project and launching your brand?
We started out by doing a lot of pro-bono and small budget projects for clients to begin building our portfolio and continue developing our skills. We continued to increase our prices, improve our services and reach out to new clients over time.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur?
There have been many challenges in the startup growth phase – managing emotions in various situations, managing projects and work with the entire team being full-time students, onboarding and training new employees, standardizing the quality of our work amongst new employees, meeting crazy client expectations, etc. For me the biggest challenge has been managing the growth of the company while still in school. Balancing work, school, and a social life is hard but possible if you’re passionate about what you’re doing and prioritize the right things. Last year I was still playing soccer for the varsity team at Elon while going to class and traveling to work in the evenings. It came with a lot of stress and not a lot of sleep but this sacrifice is now beginning to pay off.
What has been a key factor in Triad Studio’s success so far?
The passion and commitment of each of the company’s founders have truly driven the success of the company. Each founder brings a unique personality to the team which has built a collaborative culture and enabled the growth of the company so far.
How have your experiences at Elon helped prepare you to run Triad Studios?
The business school program has enhanced my skills as a business professional which have been extremely helpful for client interactions, business strategy, and various other administrative tasks.
What is next for you and your company?
We want to open a studio in Raleigh sometime in mid-2021. We don’t have plans to expand the number of team members currently, however, we are always actively searching for more clients and projects – especially ones focused on long-term brand strategy and development.
What is your advice for your peers who are interested in starting a business?
Pursue your entrepreneurship goals as early as possible. You can always find time for what you’re passionate about and the best time to take risks is when you’re young so there’s no reason to wait.