Meet Chase Carnahan: At 25, he started his own company. Want to “make it” in LA? Follow this guy.
The oreo cookie
NAME: Chase Carnahan
FROM: Dana Point, CA
COLLEGE: Boston University / Chapman University
CURRENT JOB: Creative Director at Media Limes
DREAM JOB: Writer / Director of Feature Films
FAVE THING ABOUT LA: Endless amount to do
LEAST FAVE THING ABOUT LA: TRAFFIC
The creamy goodness inside
How soon did you move to LA after graduation?
About three months. I moved up here for a job opportunity, but right after I moved up here, my boss passed away – so I didn’t get the job. I’ve been here for a little over three years, and I’ve still been successful enough to afford to stay in LA, so that’s a huge success for me.
Did you know anyone in LA?
Only one person, surprisingly. I met him at a party when I was at Chapman, and two months later he had a room open at his place in L.A. I moved in, and he’s been one of my closest friends ever since.
Where did you first live?
I lived in Brentwood on Barrington and Nebraska.
How did you meet people/make friends?
Luckily my roommate had a job at a popular restaurant – Saddle Ranch. I was able to hang out with him while he worked, and he introduced me to all of the people that worked there. I’m still friends with a lot of them, even though that was about three years ago.
What types of jobs did you initially take when you first moved to LA?
Well, since my boss died before I got the job up here, I had to make a pretty quick decision. I ended up getting a job down in Orange County (so yes, I was commuting 2 hours each way every day) at a very reputable camera manufacturer: RED Digital Cinema. The people there were great, but I just couldn’t handle the commute after 5 months. I then got a job at RockSugar in Century City, and from there I started a business with what little income I had.
How do you feel about internships (free, paid, etc)?
I think the free internships are a great idea in college when you are actually getting class credit, but for me, I couldn’t take on another job that didn’t pay – especially if it was more than 20 hours a week. But overall, I think that if you’re just starting out and looking for something to hold you over while you’re still learning about the business you want to be in, an internship is the best way to gain experience, all while you still have the freedom to make some mistakes.
What led to you to start your own business?
Well, to be honest – it was mostly about money. My roommate and I were working at a restaurant at the time, not making much, and had the brilliant idea to join our passions (both video production and web design) and start offering our services to clients. It was a really rocky and rough road for the first year or so, but once people became aware of our talents, it was much easier to make it a full time thing.
How did you initially gain clients?
Hours and hours of both cold calls and annoying the hell out of our family and friends. It’s not easy asking people for work, especially if you have a history with them.
What has been your biggest struggle with starting your own business?
I guess for us it would be the client struggle. Trying to get new clients is probably the hardest thing you can do as a new business. If you don’t have any clients, you’re not generating income. Unfortunately we didn’t have the capital at the time to invest in a sales department, so we had to take up the task ourselves. We got lucky with the initial clients we had, which allowed us to showcase our work to some bigger clients down the line.
Any successful moments you can share?
Last year we gained a client through cold calling that ended up being one of our highest revenue gainers. What really made it enjoyable for me was the fact that the client understood the value of high-quality video production and allowed us the opportunity to use a much larger budget we were accustomed to – to really blow the competition out of the water. We haven’t launched the campaign yet, but I really think people are going to like what we put together.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own company?
Dedicate yourself to it. There’s really no excuse for half-assing something. Think about it this way – if your goal is to sit on your ass and do nothing all day while making enough to survive – that’s fine; but if you want to be successful – you need to really spend every waking moment you have in some facet or another working on your business. There’s an endless amount of work to be done while building your brand, you just have to figure out what works best for you, and work your hardest at it.
What advice would you give to someone moving to LA?
Don’t be afraid to do things by yourself. I’ve met some of the best people I know going out doing things by myself. Whether it’s hiking Runyon Canyon, going to yoga, gym, or even just grabbing a drink after work, there’s an endless amount of people you can meet and activities you can do – just get out there!