The Daily Tar Heel

Here’s how student-run Triad Studios has made it in less than two years

In January 2018, Triad Studios was founded by five college students who shared a strong passion for business, video creation and entrepreneurship.

Co-founder Baaqir Yusuf brought the group together. Tristan Gardner and Justin Fouts were two fellow UNC students in the Kenan-Flagler Business School. Other co-founders, Daniel Pan and Michael Thomas, were Yusuf’s childhood friends.

After evaluating their skill sets, the five students saw an opportunity in the market for video creation. They decided to launch Triad Studios, a creative media production agency that specializes in cinematic storytelling through videography.

One of the group’s earliest challenges was acquiring its initial clients, Yusuf said. For six months following the company’s launch, they worked from an apartment before moving to an office.

“Everybody’s resilience in pushing through failure and obstacles and just constantly striving toward that shared vision and shared goal that we have together — it’s super, super valuable to have a team of people that can just fail and then take that failure as a learning opportunity and push forward to make that a huge success after the fact,” Yusuf, Triad’s chief marketing and branding officer, said.

He said the group had to endure the many challenges that come with starting a company while balancing their schoolwork.

Triad Studios strives to help clients showcase their brand through videos and storytelling geared toward global and millennial audiences, according to the company’s website.

“What makes our content different from other content is that it speaks to younger audiences a lot better and more effectively than a lot of other content that you will see,” Yusuf said. “That’s what we call the Triad style — it’s not just the cinematography, but it’s also the color, the way we light things, the way we shoot, the way we edit.”

Triad creates digital content for artists, public figures, events, commercial brands, institutions and media campaigns. While much of their work is centered in the Triangle, the company’s work has also taken them as far as Texas and New York.

The company is new and the staff is young, but Triad’s services have attracted over 65 clients across different industries. They have completed work for institutions at UNC such as Kenan-Flagler and the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Other clients include Bedlam Vodka, Carolina Brewery and a member of the UNC Clef Hangers who proposed to his then-girlfriend during one of the groups’ performances.

Triad Studios crafted a five-minute video from over 400 minutes of interviews showcasing students’ experiences and memories at Kenan-Flagler for Shimul Melwani, a professor at the school. The video was played at the school’s 2019 undergraduate commencement.

Pleased with the contemporary style of the video and the collaborative work experience, Melwani hired Triad Studios to complete several more projects that focused on the branding of the undergraduate business school program.

“It was just really fun,” Melwani said. “I just had such an amazing experience and through the summer we continued to work on things. Each time I walk in their office, by the time I leave I’m always in a more positive mood and more excited about the final product.”

Clients also see an impact from using Triad Studios’ videos.

The video Triad created to market The Cabana, a beauty salon located in Sanford, generated thousands of views on Facebook and increased the salon’s revenue and business tremendously, Yusuf said. Following the public response to the video, The Cabana’s owner was able to move to a larger space.

“I love the environment that I work in, I love what I do, I love finding a client and fulfilling their needs and seeing their reaction once we send them the final video,” Connor Thompson, director of client management, said. “That’s probably the most rewarding thing for me personally.”

The company has undergone significant growth since its creation less than two years ago. In its first fiscal year, Triad Studios made $82,000 in revenue. In its second year, Yusuf said Triad Studios is on track to make six times that number.

Triad Studios now has a staff of 12 — all current students except for Gardner, who graduated last year. The four co-founders and other staff members are seniors this year, and many plan to work full-time at Triad after graduation, continuing to seek new clients and grow the company.

“We are all hard workers, we all have goals, we all are business savvy,” Thompson said. “When you combine all those great minds into one thing — one common idea — and everybody is inspired, hardworking and driven, then great things happen. And I think that’s an obvious result of what we have here.”