How a Quebec City company went from a small start-up to attracting interest from major studios like Marvel and Disney.
It all started in the fall of 2011. After being put in touch by a mutual friend, Denis Doré and Patrick Beaulieu met in a cafe in Quebec City's basse ville and went back and forth with ideas for a start-up.
It didn't take long for the two men to realize they shared the some of the same interests and one very lofty goal: to be the best in the world at what they did.
They based their vision for achieving it on 3 objectives.
Objective 1: Be a global leader in 3D animation
"We both wanted to build our vision with cutting-edge tools and a team of winners," says Doré, CEO, President and Co-Founder of Squeeze Studio.
An animation studio was the perfect combination of art and technology they were looking for. They decided to create a business that designed 3D characters for major studios.
Just over 2 months later, and before the company had even been legally created, they landed their first contract, with Ubisoft. A month later, in January 2012, Squeeze Studio was officially launched with a staff of 5.
That year, the company won 1st prize in Quebec in the Services to Companies category of the OSEntreprendre Challenge, which encourages and promotes entrepreneurial initiatives by students, new start-ups, and innovative and interesting companies. Everyone on the team had contributed. It was a nice pat on the back that affirmed the steps they had had taken and the work they had accomplished. "We thought that it took off fast," remembers Doré. "We were hoping for a bit of lull, so we could focus on executing our business plan."
It's been 7 years since that award . . . and they're still waiting for the lull. "Squeeze started growing from day 1," laughs Doré. "We're constantly changing and off balance. Everything happens so fast!"
The company repeated as OSEntreprendre Challenge award winners again in 2018, receiving the Successful Business Inc. award in recognition for their execution of 5 elements during their run: achievements, values, finances, prospects and team.
Objective 2: Hire the best people
When François Houde joined the management team as a partner, the young company got a bit of a boost. "He fit in right away and we needed a finance guy like him, someone who could help us sustain Squeeze's strong growth," says Doré.
Together, they outlined a bold business vision that left no place for ambiguity: be the best in the world! To support employees and drive the point home, the company launched a boot camp for advanced 3D character animation training to implement best practices and spur professional development.
They also invested in their offices. Employees got bigger, better common spaces, access to a large studio, a workshop to develop character gesture and movement and a 35-seat screening room.
Objective 3: Produce and distribute their own work internationally
By implementing a bold vision that partners and employees bought into, Squeeze Studio quickly became one of the best service companies doing 3D animation in the world.
The story might have stopped there, but the company wanted more than ever to achieve their goal of becoming a global leader. "We wanted to create value here in Quebec," says Doré. "It's pretty common that the work we do is sold to foreign companies. We wanted to create and distribute our own productions internationally, and most importantly, maintain our intellectual property rights."
The company has already distributed several products that are generating profit and have gotten 160 million online views in 210 countries and regions. It's a safe bet that the partners will be celebrating another victory soon. "We know we have what we need to achieve our goal and make Squeeze Studio a Quebec version of Pixar," says Doré.
Encouraging tomorrow's entrepreneurs
This year, Doré is the Honorary President for the 21st OSEntreprendre Challenge. "It has sparked a move towards training that's pushing young--and less young--entrepreneurs to run with their innovative ideas and make them happen. This new generation isn't faint-hearted. It's Quebec's long-term creative and financial engine. These entrepreneurs are essential for the future. They have a real energy and a contagious enthusiasm they are ready to use for social change." Entrepreneurs have until March 12, 2019, to register for the challenge.
Squeeze Studio - Quick facts
Original productions: Cracké, Fernutz and Jax
Offices: Quebec City and Montreal