When deciding to create a business, an entrepreneurial student must first examine the market in order to see if their idea is feasible. By comparing their idea to others and seeing how they can make an impact in the market, students begin to understand how much work will be needed in order to make their future business a success.
However, for the students who choose to press forward by adapting to the challenges they often end up far more successful than they could have imagined. For Cal State Fullerton alumni and entrepreneur Ryan David Tsang, his journey as a business owner has led him to flourish not only in the world of entrepreneurs but also in that of film and television.
While originally an entrepreneur major, Ryan took a break during his sophomore and junior years of college to explore the world of film and television. Working in the field enabled Ryan to hone his craft as an actor and eventually led to him to enroll under the Radio-TV-Film major. As a student with a double major, Ryan decided to create a business that would reflect both of his majors. In 2011, Black Canvas Entertainment was founded by Ryan and his business associate Justin Lee. This first step into the world of entrepreneurship would prove crucial for Ryan as he continued his career after college.
Upon graduating from Cal State Fullerton in 2013 Ryan began to expand upon his acting career where he was featured in a multitude of different shows and commercials. Working with the companies that hired him, Ryan was able to make connections that would not only help him expand his portfolio but would also lead to more clients for his business.
Interestingly enough, the use of Ryan’s entrepreneurial skills worked well with those of his acting skills. While both fields are different, the similarities they shared in terms of networking, communication, and developing skills proved to be a perfect fulcrum in which Ryan could use to help him become a better business owner as well as actor.
One valuable lesson that Ryan learnt early in his career was that networking was king when trying to expand his horizons. As a firm believer of not limiting himself, Ryan would attend events even if it meant not knowing any of the people in the room. To many, this situation would be something that they would be instantly uncomfortable with. However, by branching out and speaking with new people, Ryan was able to land several successful contacts that later led him to being referred to work because of the connections he had made.
Another valuable lesson that many students often ignore during networking events is to not go with the intention of landing a job. While seemingly nonsensical at first, students who only attend networking events with this mission give off a different vibe than those who go just to interact and speak with one another. By getting to know a person with no ulterior motive, people feel that a person is less needy and therefore more willing to refer them in the future.
Ryan also quickly learned that Facebook makes following up with people a perfect tool in cultivating a professional relationship after initially making contact. By learning these lessons early on, Ryan was able to adapt to the rigors of working in Hollywood and flourish as an actor.
In terms of his business, Ryan began to realize that while passion and dedication proved to be great concepts to work off of, reasoning and logic are just as valuable. This proved to be true when Ryan began examining his schedule and noted that he was working well over a hundred hours every week. Realizing that he was getting too caught up in his work, Ryan began making changes in order for him to experience life and be happy again.
With his schedule adjusted and more time allocated for things he wanted to accomplish, Ryan once more was able to grow and become stronger in his fields. Currently Ryan is helping to give back to the school that enabled him to be so successful. By working as a mentor in the classroom, Ryan has helped in the creation of a platform that will allow actors to connect and find jobs. While there are currently only 2-3 sites that use this concept, Ryan’s connections and skills as an entrepreneur will aid him as he works to create an even better site that expands on the concepts already in use.
Ultimately, Ryan’s dual career path has helped him climb the ranks as an actor while helping him to grow and succeed as a business owner. It is clear to see that the skills and knowledge from both of his majors played a large role in helping him not only become a successful actor, but also a business owner.
While Ryan’s path may not portray the typical entrepreneurial story of creating a business, his journey makes him unique among entrepreneurs due to his dedication and passion for the things he loves. This kind of journey is one that illustrates to students that nothing is impossible if students have the motivation and drive to follow their dreams.
We also reached out to Ryan to get his thoughts about the one piece of advice he would give to current CSUF students. Here’s what he had to say:
ADVICE: Change your mindset from “What can I get?” to “What can I give?”
As an aspiring Producer, I wanted to get my foot in the door and make connections at Fox Studios, so I accepted a 4 week temporary position as an Assistant in Legal & Television Distribution. First day on the job, working in a quiet, gray cubicle, I thought this was not a good fit for me. So, I plugged in my earbuds, completed my assigned tasks, and went home. However, the next morning and each day afterwards I went into work with a totally different mindset – “what if I take every single opportunity to do something positive while I’m here?” From the moment I parked my car, I would talk to strangers in the elevator, hold doors open for the morning rush, learn what my co-workers love and care about, buy donuts for the office, pick up trash in the bathroom and clean up someone else’s coffee spill in the break room.
The result was beyond expectations: I looked forward to each day of opportunities. I made lifelong friends. My supervisor even gave me a thank you card with a gift card inside. As my term neared its end, 7 employees at Fox helped me look for a permanent position. Two directors on my floor gave me direct referrals to a job opportunity that wasn’t even listed! I got an interview the next week and was offered the job the following day.
Now, I’m utilizing my Producer skills to coordinate a department responsible for overseeing every single film Fox releases outside of North America, which represents 2/3 of all Box Office revenue!
Photo credit: Ryan David Tsang.
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