How To Start Your Own Creative Studio | Richard Bolland | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction - How To Start Your Own Creative Studio

      0:43
    • 2. Before We Start

      1:15
    • 3. Lesson 1 - How Much Money Do I Need?

      8:34
    • 4. Lesson 2 - Do I Have Enough Clients?

      8:06
    • 5. Lesson 3 - Time & Balance

      5:12
    • 6. Lesson 4 - How Do I Grow My Studio

      5:59
    • 7. Lesson 5 - Top Tips!

      5:24
    • 8. Conclusion

      1:25
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About This Class

Hi! I'm Richard, founder of Studio Bolland - An animation studio from Cape Town, South Africa. We're going to go through what it takes to start your own creative studio. I’ll tell you everything I know about:

  • When & how to start up.
  • How much money you’ll need.
  • How to get your first clients.
  • How to hire your first employees.
  • How to build it up to be a success.
  • Plus a whole bunch of useful tips and tricks of the trade.

I’ll tell you how I went from working alone in my bedroom to owning a successful animation studio.
Join me in this class and lets discover what it takes to start your own creative studio - just like ours!

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Meet Your Teacher

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Richard Bolland

Animation | Illustration | Motion Graphics

Teacher

Hello, we are called Studio Bolland. A small but dedicated team of passionate illustrators and motion designers. We work with both local and international clients on various creative outlets: Animated explainer videos, TV commercials, web videos, illustrations, cartoons, corporate identities, logos, animated gifs and the list goes on...

See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction - How To Start Your Own Creative Studio: high school share. I'm Richard. Oh, no. Studio Bolland, an animation studio from Cape Town, South Africa. Way gonna be going through how to start your own creative studio? I'm gonna teach you how and when you should start. How much money you'll need to start, how to get your first clients and then how to hire your first employees. Then, most importantly, how to build it up into successful animation. She just like to join me as we discover how to start your own greatest. 2. Before We Start: okay, Before we start, I recommend that you need to have the following skills or characteristics to start a creative studio. It's not a deal breaker if you don't match it 100%. But this course will take into account that you know, most of the following. So number one, I think it's really important that you involved in most of the creative process that you're gonna be starting this one alone or at most with one other person. So it's important that you know how to do most of what your business is offering. If you plan to just be the middleman, then this probably isn't for you. Number two. You have to have a risk appetite. You're gonna need to take that jump at some point that big jump. You can make a super calculate decision, but at the end of the day, it's just gonna be a risk. You need to be willing to take that risk. And number three, you have to have a passion for this. This is going to be something you work on day in, day out, late nights, weekends. You have to have that passionate business deep inside you. Otherwise, you gonna just lose interest eventually. So have that passion on. Recognize that before you start 3. Lesson 1 - How Much Money Do I Need?: All right, listen, one How much money do I need to stop this great studio? Big disclaimer is that I've tried to make this as universal as possible. However, we started this animation studio in Cape Town, South Africa on Cape Town. Might have some things that are a lot cheaper elsewhere in the world. It might have some things are more expensive. So whichever country you're viewing listen, just take that into account that these prices are predominantly fullest African market there. So many variables, Aziz. Well, that it's very difficult. T give you a specific onset that you need x amount of money to order to stop. But I'm gonna try. Give you a minimum and a maximum art on hopefully somewhere in the middle of what you'll need stock. Um, all right on. Let's again. It's a really good idea to plan for one year's worth of expenses. This is gonna be the easiest way you can work out what it's gonna cost you. It's also a really good target to set yourself to try and start something and dedicate at least one year to it. So let's get into first off for us as animation Studio we need a computer. It was essential to make animation. So for us it's what is the cheapest set up we can get that would give us enough performance not to hinder our work on the research that we went until we need a good CPU, some decent RAM and graphics card on for Aesthetic that came between 1000 and 1.5 $1000. That for us was the cheapest we could get it with, still performing relatively well. Remember, this is in the beginning of the early days, you can operate your computer as time goes by. Next was Renton Inc an Internet. I've put these together because my suggestion is that you either work from home in the beginning or your enter desk in a collaborative office space you can find pretty easily in your own neighborhood or your own city. Coworking space that will suit you. And you usually can just check out their prices online. Both of these places, your home, all this coworking space should have Internet included. So that's why I have included these things together. Try. Don't try to go for one of these premium luxury places. See, see if you can find a place is for you to be cost effective. I recommend spending between $1200 in $2400 depending on the place that you can find in your own city. Next up is software. You're gonna be very tempted to try a pirate software in the beginning to keep costs low. But there's so many decent options off software that you can pay on a monthly basis or annual basis that I recommend. Just do it. You You will sleep at night a lot better, and you won't be worried if someone's gonna bust open your door and check if you have parts off for us. We use Adobe Creative Cloud, which you condone, subscribe to annually but pay monthly. Currently, it's at $53 per month, but user, so over a year it's going to cost you between $600.636 dollars. Cloud storage and backup is huge. I really recommend nothing more than getting yourself some cloud storage. It saved us so much time and money because when your computer crashes or it gets stolen or corrupted, or even when you want to upgrade your computer. It's super easy to just click, sink and begin working again. Dropbox retails at $9.99 per month search but 122 maybe 100 and $40 a month, depending on what package you get and say there's some other options out there. But I would recommend drop books starting a business you're gonna need a website and email address. There are many different options up there, so this is totally your preference restarted on WordPress and then moved over to squarespace. Eventually, I recommend using G suite for email. It just it's just seems simpler and on. It's easy to figure out a navigate eso don't buying a domain and website hosting is going to be around $40 a year on G Suite is around $72 a year. So you're looking to spend about $112 on your website and on email dress for the year. Next up, you're gonna have to register your business. It's going to make things a lot easier when it comes to payroll, when it comes to getting your tax and all that stuff sorted. So registration and banking Andi. Only Costas cheap is about $10 to register businesses. Africa. I don't know what it's going to be like for your country, but this will. You know, it will vary. And hopefully it will be as cost effective for you to register business in your own country . At a minimum minimum, it'll cost around $50 per year. For a business bank account, you'll have to pay an additional fees depending on how much you bank. Uh, this is so different, depending on what country you from. So I reckon about $60 to set up your business on about $500 in bank fees. The, uh which works out to be found from the $60. Yeah, get an accountant. Uh, usually it's gonna be really expensive to hire your own accountant. So? So this, um, there are a lot of these, like, cloud based accounting services, you know, for most of us creatives counting something left to be divided or not desire at war, in my opinion. So when you're starting When we started our company, we took advantage of one of these services. It costs around 1000. June Trupia, $1200 a year in 2015. But now the CIA, as our studios ground it's costing us around $3400 per yet eso our budget between $1800 in $2000 per year. When your fifth starting out to get one of these cloud accounting services, I totally forgot about extras, say, in every business you're gonna find some extra costs for certain things. And so I'd budget between $501,500 for anything that might come about that you might meet. Maybe you need that second monitor or you need to get some insurance. So you need to buy new chairs. Me at that, you know you're gonna have extra expenses. That's why I put it as a pretty large figure. But you'll be surprised at how much extra things you might need during the course of the year. Now I haven't included your own celery here, So, um, I recommend this is going to depend on how much you need to survive. Obviously, if you don't have, if you don't have dependants, if you are single on living from home off he have a girlfriend or boyfriend Black. It's gonna be a lot easier for you, Thio Thio start a company Because people not many people depend on, um I recommend a salary of around $900 a month. Uh, that might be extremely low for American on UK. People say, you know, you're gonna have to arrive. Raise that to whatever figure you need, But in my mind, your monthly expenses press your Saturday, hopefully will be around the $1500 mark. Um, this works out and South African ran to be about 21,000 rand a month. You're gonna need, um, this is cumin. Keep this as low as possible. Um, you know, you're gonna have to adapt this to your own country, but for me, working around $1500 per month to get up and running if you can do that, I think you'll do well on do you can make a very sustainable business which just has a room for growth. So see what you can do on, um, if you think I'm talking absolute bollocks, then comment, rely on give me a figure that what you need to work out your monthly or yearly subscriptions, But this should give you a rough idea of what you need to start 4. Lesson 2 - Do I Have Enough Clients?: All right, listen to do you have enough of your own clients or incoming jobs? First off, you have to evaluate how many of your own clients and jobs you have currently on their three possible situations. That you might be it. The 1st 1 is that you have enough clients and jobs and you re to start your own studio. The second situation is that you have some clients and jobs, but not quite enough to start your inside. You inferred situation is that you have no one, no clients, no jobs, nothing. I'm gonna try healthy art, poultry. So the 1st 1 is really simple. You got enough lines you can start to move on for the next lesson. We'll see that no need to carry on this list. The 2nd 1 is that you have some kinds on may be yearning between 500 $1000 per man Fun. It's and you don't choir have enough to start your own sheer to get up to that critical 1500 mark. So hopefully this is what you can do to get that extra push to get clients. The 1st 1 is to tell all your current and previous clients. Your plan to say that Hey, I'm starting at my in studio. I'd love to work with you. Please keep in touch. Thes are my rates, etcetera, etcetera. This work super well for me. In the beginning, I had worked on quite a few previous jobs and I had quite a few previous clients that I work with and I email of every single one of them. I told them my plans, and at least half of them came back to say, Hey, yeah, that sounds great. We might have some work for you. Let's keep talking. Um, the second option is that use with you already are turning to promote yourself. So say you haven't you know you're earning $500 through free lines? Why not take that money on? Try upgrade your website or pay for a few sponsored posts on instagram or Facebook or pay for Cem premium services like dribble pro mia? Um, to try up your credibility there many ways that you can take that existing money to try on both to your your own reputation. Online on the third option is to revert to Option three below which is what I'm gonna talk about. And that's only if the top two don't work. So option three. If you have absolutely no clients, then I want you to go through this checklist that I'm gonna share with you. Make sure that you take off every single one from top to bottom. The 1st 1 is that you create a universal name or brand for yourself. You don't want to be, You know, four or five different names and social media you don't you don't want to be too disposed under different pseudonyms. Make sure that you have a clear offering, a clear brand that you can call yourself the focus on maybe two max three specializations like, for example, illustration, animation and story boarding. Don't be a big jack of all trades. Try Niece yourself a little bit. Just focus on one thing. Say, I'm Richard Beilin. I am an animator on Guy was a d'Administration. That's kind of how I, uh you know, I place myself in the market. 2nd 1 is to set up a free put failure site if you don't have your own portfolio side. Already, so many people that want to start up their own studios of their own businesses. Don't even have a site to begin with. If you unconfident in building a free website, been used behind so dribble or YouTube or Vimeo instagram or Twitter or Facebook, use one of those platforms that you familiar with have something online, which you can show people and that has a unique identity. Thirdly, tell everyone you know that you want to start a crater. CDO on your available for work be that annoying person, aka Lack. You're selling Herbalife for some, you know, multilevel marketing product. When someone asked themselves, Hey, I need animation. I needed to be that first person that pops into their mind. So make sure that that whatever you doing, that when someone asked that question, you are the first person that pops into their mind. Messes go to networking events. Find out if it is a dribble. Meet up well behind. Meet up in your area. Um, some cities have things like creative mornings or Petra culture. Attend animation and film festivals nearby to where you live on most importantly, speak to people. Uh, don't be annoying, but be memorable. Speak to everyone you know about what you're gonna be good. Mexes. To make yourself as widely known as possible, add yourself to Facebook groups. List yourself on job sites. Add yourself to the other pages if you have to comment on community forums engaged on freelancing platforms like up work. Make yourself known across the board. Once again, if someone says I need an animation, I needed to be the person that pops into their mind. So be that person Next up was asked for overflow work. You email nearby animation or creative studios that might have overflow work that they can give you, especially if you've really met the matter an event or submit that you have a relationship with them already. Awesome. If they have any overflow work that you could do next is to try to collaborate with the lone Brando band. Pick something that you love, Whether it's a local music group or small business, try collaborate with them in exchange for four exposure, but I will give you a big warning only work with people that you approach. Don't don't work for people that are trying to get free work. Don't let don't say yes to someone approaching you for free work rather say yes to free work when you're approaching someone else. So if I go to an ice cream parlor that I want to work for, say, I'll give you some free work If you can put my name up on social media, you know, or well, if I can, you know, hang some advertising for potential cons. You know, you it's okay to do free WIC if you the one initiating the free WIC. And lastly, if, as an absolute last resort, start emailing businesses that you'd like to work with cold calling or cold emailing them on, ask if they have any products or projects you can picture on to do some work. But you don't want to be that annoying person that that is cold calling or cold emailing people, because often you just won't get a response. Some tips to remember is that your aim should always be to try to reach that that financial goal that you set yourself to starting a studio. For me, it was $1500 on, So if you plan to do a job for $750 action take you longer than two weeks. Don't don't under sell yourself. Thank yourself. OK, if I need $1500 on, I get a $750 job. That should only take me two weeks to do. If it's taking you longer than you know, pricing yourself right? So try your best to too precious, so fairly and lastly, save, save, save, save. Save whatever money you get. If you make more than $1500 in the month, keep in your bank account on, build your reserves you're needed for when you grow and we'll talk more about that later. 5. Lesson 3 - Time & Balance: Lesson three. Time on ballots. Once you start a studio, you'll without a dart have a lot of struggling to do, So it's important to try to get that right balance for that. Starting an animation studio Before we hired a producer, I had a lot of juggling Teoh on. I'm gonna go through a with the different things that I to do in the beginning. Bear in mind, this is full and animation studio. So some of these things might be different depending on what type of creative studio you gonna start. The 1st 1 was a being client liaison, a project manager. I had to respond to emails keeping the clients in the know about what's happening make making timelines for projects and setting dead last, managing the brief and managing feedback from the client, making sure that the different phases of the project are on track for us doing animation, we had to get a script written and we had to get voiceovers found and recorded. And so for us we had to organize that script Puritan we had to find and then send voiceover talent to the quiet and then book recording. Two years and we had to stick to the timelines to ensure deliverables were sent some time. Secondly, was the entire creative process. I was the storyboard artists had to visualize the script once it was written, then had to be in the voiceover recording to book the recording studio. Make sure that the voiceover males it make sure that they, you know, really captivated what the car was about, what the brief was about then I had to be the illustrator once. Once the client has approved the storyboard, then we had to illustrate everything on. And then the biggest part of it was the actual animation, making sure that the illustrated boards came to life to the voice of and lastly, our then work on the music and the sound of fix. And I have to find appropriate library music, then creates unfixed myself. And that can also be something that you are sorts. A lot of animations. She is outsourced. That type of work next was being the financial manager I to make sure that I created quotes and cost estimates for the clients I to pay invoices that came in. If we hide a script right are to pay that scoop rider via artists, the recording studio. They'll need to be paid I to manage all the receipts that were going on every time we bought some mook. Uh, we had to keep the receipts have managed that. We used an app called Receipt Bank for that which cloud contents gave us that I was really handy. I then had to talk to the continent's about the very different taxes that we had to pay P Y E In our in our case and bath, we had to pay and then lastly, add to finalize the payroll on simple pay and make salary payments. You know, in the beginning, it was just to have I said it was too simple salary payments. That was easy. As our company grew, that became more difficult. Then I was the website and social media manager to try and keep the post coming on all the socials I to keep behind some dribble on Vinje and YouTube up to date and had to make sure that new content was being about our website, that that it wasn't stagnant, that clients didn't come check it out in the last time we had a player project was four months ago, we needed to be up to date, keeping up with the trends. Then, lastly, I had Teoh Network and attend events and work on lead generation. I had to find local events and opportunities to connect to other craters and to potential clients. We were attending animation and film festivals, and conferences were to find other freelances to collaborate with. We had to keep our ears open for possible projects, you know, and leads all of those things we have to do in the beginning ourselves. You we didn't have a producer that we could push all about over towards. So it's really important that that you have to walk this type rip of being a creative and being an administrator, and you have to find that balance and not get caught up too much in the one and and neglect other. Um, you have to have a very low standard of living and don't have many dependence, you know, venue in the prime position to be to give us much time and energy as possible into making this happen. If you in a committed relationship will have kids, it's not impossible to achieve this, but it's gonna be a lot more difficult to try. Find that balance between being creative, being administrator on having a decent family life. There's no point in starting a business if it's going to be at the expense of your family, family and your personal life should always come first before work. So keep that in mind when starting a business. You know, if you are young and single and don't have any dependence, you in a great position. If not, it's still possible. But you have to just balance it a bit more or act. That's a law about balance in time. 6. Lesson 4 - How Do I Grow My Studio: lesson for next steps on hard to grow. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about winter grow was the three months through. Once you've got enough money in your bank account to cater for three months worth of expenses, then you're ready to hire your first person. Been taking into account your new expenses boat up to three months again and repeat growing your business. Grow your studio. Don't hire new person will make any big changes to your experiences until you reach three months with thistles. Your safety net. It means that if not enough work comes in, you know that you could three months at least three months worth of wiggle room before you run out of money. So you might be asking yourself, Okay, who do I employ? Well, my recommendations are the first employee employee number one and bear in mind. You should have at least 4.5 $1000 in savings at this point, but my I'd recommend first hiring another creative that matches your ability and speed. You'll be easy to manage expectations if someone is at a similar level to you, and you don't have to deal with trying. Tiu have to try improve this person. Oh, or you know, polish up there, work on your hat that they should be as good as you are. This will then allow you to concentrate a little bit more on the administrative side of things on. Take a bit of weight off your shoulders. When it comes to the creative side. I already make sure that you offer them within 10% of your own. Celery. Um, you know, it's important that they are honored with as much as you getting because even though you started the business there now ended with you, they also taking a risk on being in it with you on, they're going to be hustling as much as you are. Employee number two. You know, I should also very mind you have at least three months worth of expenses in your savings account. Don't hire your second employee until you've got at least 33 months worth of expenses in your cart. The next person should be someone to help with that administrative side of your business. In our context, we call this a producer on guy found it really helpful to hand over all the client liaison , the quote creation that scheduling the project management, the outsourcing of all that stuff to our producer. I still had control on making payments and finalizing payroll and paying salaries. A zur team grows. It'll be great for this person to also be the office and team management manager. Maybe the HR person. This will ensure that you can focus on leading the creative side of of the team this person to our offer within 10% either up or down of what you're earning. Because the three of you will act as the management team for the studio in the future. Employee number three Now is the opportunity to hire some fresh talent. By this time, you'll have some good rhythms and routines in your studio, and your culture will start to take shape. Ah, fresh talent Kenbrell ing some energy into the mix, as well as enable you to grow the next generation of craters. We have tended to hire people fresh out of college or or hiring interns that have worked in our studio already, Um, who shone both talent and a good culture foot. This is the best way to grow your studio now is to hire fresh talent. If you offer an employee a 12 month contract, I'll give you two chances to make sure that the right fit the first chance of your get is after the probation period, which is usually by three months. If that person isn't quite jelling, always and fitting, you have your rights to terminate that contract and to terminate the employment. It sounds hectic, but you want to make sure that the person is the right foot, Um, and then the second chance she'll gators at the end of their 12 month contract. If if they are great food after 12 months, continue, offer them full time employment. And if they're not a good fit, you can call it Quit to them. And there's no other legal action If all you're doing is just ending their contract. Employee number four is not actually an employee. It's your own space. At this point, you're either still working from home or you're renting a coworking space, which is usually torched per person on. At this point, it's now best to invest in your own space. Um, what you would have paid for 1/4 person and That's why I've quarter employing them before is what you should spend on rent on everything to do with ranting you in space. It might be a little bit more than what you would normally pay for an employee, but this is most likely going to need some capital that you still got Teoh to spend. So remember that that three month rule don't go to fancy but make it comfortable for everyone. Finding a place in like a business block or near restaurants or shops is good for keeping visible. I'm making sure your office culture remains vibrant from May. It's up to you and how you want to grow. You should have enough space to hire freelancers on a project basis will employ more fresh talent. If you and your other top creatives are struggling with capacity, then consider hiring another experience creative. That's all you need to know about growing your business and growing slowly on. That way you keep it sustainable. You keep it focused on the long term, and you'll grow year on year 7. Lesson 5 - Top Tips!: lesson number five Top tips. These tips were not worthy of a full lesson, but they're all very important. So when I go through all of them one by one, all right, took one pipeline versus islands, Let me explain. So we tended to hire people that are jack of all trades. We call those people islands because everything happens on one island. They can focus on the entire creative workflow instead of instead of working in a pipeline or specialized people. Do you think about animations? Story boarding illustration, Animation Sound of fix. We've tried to hire people that can do all of those things drive and hiring an illustrator , hiring anime, higher storyboard artists. What tends to happen is those people will work for a certain period time and then have nothing to do. So it's better to hire people who can be part of that entire process and not just a specific part of the pop line Tip number two referrals and word of mouth with the top ways people find out about us in the 1st 23 years, this means that we have very good relationships with our clients, and they found work for us often what would happen is people saw one of their videos that we've done for them and said, Who did this video? And it's, uh, our friends and Suitable Island did it. Why didn't you use them? And that's the way that we found lots of other work was through. Clients were faring Astle through word of mouth, So don't underestimate the power of referrals and word of mouth. Tip number three interns. Interns are a great way to teach the next generation of creatives A lot of studios that that I know fine interns annoying and a waste of time. We've tried to embrace interns and make them feel part of the studio part of the culture. We found it very helpful to see who we can potentially employ throughout internship program . Five out of our eight employees were once in turns with us, so that shows you more than 50% of the people we employed were interns, so use interns wisely, you know, pay them a fairly if they doing studio work. Otherwise, if they are, if you don't want to pay them and get them to do studio work it them to do NGO projects or nonprofit projects. Tip number four. Make the Workplace fan In the beginning, we used to play a lot of computer games together like Kind of Strike and Rocket League. Um, what you can also do is have something like a team lunch or free Friday lunch. We used to ask the local restaurant if they could give us any special deals if we promise to eat there once a week. So why don't you do that for your team on asking nearby restaurants or cafes? Hey, if we eat at your restaurant full every week for a year, can you give us some type of deal? Otherwise, if you can't find any restaurants, why not have your own barbecue? We call them Bride since Africa on a Friday afternoon, you know, buy some meat and and barbecued up on a Friday afternoon. It's up. Number five, pay annual bonuses and give annual raises. Uh, it's really important that your employees feel honored and that they feel like they are invested in, and so make sure that you paying them bonuses and give them raises we to make cash flow better. We split up our bonuses toe happen four times a year, so everyone gets a full 13th check. But they get 25% off in three months. No, 25% off three months. Another toy 25 after three months until they receive their full 13th check. Uh, this. Make sure that you don't have Teoh have this big cash flow problem at the end of the year, and you can kind of break it up over because the full course of the year the next step is to work for full price or for free, never for cheap. You don't want to be known as the person who works with cheap on on quick jobs. Rather, stick to your guns rather rather find the right type of work. And And if you need to do free work, make sure that it's for someone that is worthy, like a like a organization that resonates with you. Um, if not work for full price. Don't try. You know you can. You can give 10% 20% discounts within reason. But don't be the cheap guys because you'll be nine is the chief guys and then, lastly, be the mascots. The creative industry is a very positive industry. It's and it's uplifting space to be in. Don't bring down other creatives or other studios with bad talk, you know, encourage one another. Share knowledge. Empower the next generation. You know you'll be known for your integrity. So it's to be the nice guys on. Uh, I promise you will be in your own favor. People will know you as a so the happy, friendly people not as the people that just talk bad about each other. Eso those are my top tips. 8. Conclusion: you've reached the end of the course on din conclusion. I just like to say that a lot of the things we've spoken about a very dependent on the country you live in the tops of opportunities that are available to you. A large proportion of our success came down to lack, Uh, when we started who you employ, where you set up your first couple of kinds, it could just be a matter of charts that that happens. Wait for your lucky break in it. It will camp work hard, trying to find that lucky break, because that's what it's gonna take to you. Get your business flying. Is that one big chance? Let me help make a success of your own Christie. So do you have any questions or fourth put him in the discussion tableau will share your ideas in the project section. I love to comment on them and see what what you doing on. Let's engage and help one another. Teoh. Be successful. Most countries or a lot of countries that big unemployment problems, Mawr studios that we start means more jobs that will create means better happy people all over the world. Thanks for taking the skill share cloths, and it's been a pleasure to share some of my ideas, and I really hope they help you so long and we see.