Game Art Institute has upgraded… We are now Vertex School.
Why change? Well, the simple answer is to be able to help more creatives get more jobs.
But it’s been a long journey so let me tell you a bit of my story…
My name is Ryan Kingslien. I’m the founder of Vertex School.
Over the last eight years I have created a lot of products but I’ve never really created a company.
See, most businesses are created by people who are “artists” in their field. I certainly started my business that way.
I was good at a software program called ZBrush that I helped develop so when my wife told me she was pregnant… I thought why not build a business helping everybody use ZBrush better?!
Seven years later, I had a hundred Creatives teaching classes and thousands of Creatives served… but my business was not growing in the way that I wanted.
I worked with mentors, coaches, consultants, therapists and still my business wasn’t growing.
I didn’t realize it at the time but there was one thing that all of my coaches and trainers had in common… Me.
I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t changing my behavior. I was treating my business… like a business… like a transaction.
My coaches thought that I might eventually change my ways and had a vested interest in continuing to work with me.
Consultants were paid for their consulting advice and then went their separate way and didn’t look back.
Then I discovered Founders Institute and there 12 week early stage accelerator and everything changed. The Founders Institute has a singular focus on helping entrepreneurs create meaningful and enduring companies… not just businesses… and they are ruthlessly effective at achieving this.
I started my cohort with 27 individuals. At the end, there were only five of us still standing. Marcus, Dane, Pedram and Antonio… I love you guys.
I shed pounds of baggage about what it means to run a company and be a leader.
The life of an entrepreneur is lonely, difficult, and filled with uncertainties. It’s not a life to jump into willy-nilly. When you have payroll to meet and people whose livelihood depend on you that can be a lot of pressure.
So Founders Institute has a simple and effective way of dealing with this and it’s handled incredibly well by Jeanine Jacobson.
They assign work every week that is the exact type of work anybody starting a company should do and if you are unable to complete that work within the week or if you rush it and don’t do a good job then you either get a special assignment or you get asked to come back when you can perform better.
No hard feelings. No negativity. Just the fact that you were not able to complete an assignment at the level that was necessary.
I got two special assignments and I consider myself a high achiever and a hard worker. This was not for the faint of heart.
But they’ve tapped in to a truth. I had one choice to make:
- Continue being the person that I was and continue to get the results that I got or…
- Expand who I am and what I am capable of and get the results that I want.
When you go to lift a weight at the gym you don’t ask the weight to make an exception for your back or to give you a little bit more muscle mass this week because you just don’t have time to work out as much as you can… You get the sweat equity you put in.
The Founders Institute made me sweat… A lot…
And it starts with a 30 second pitch that you create using they’re Mad Libs format.
My first attempt at this went something like this:
My company, Game Art Institute, is developing online mentoring programs to train artists for in-demand creative technical careers using our combination of skill mapping, mentoring and immersive boot camps.
Not bad. I felt the focus on games was too narrow since the real market I wanted to serve was artists and creatives.
So, my next one went like this:
My company, the Ryan school, is building online and in person training programs for in demand creative and technical careers to help non-traditional learners, which by the way is over 70% of the education market, to create real and thriving careers using our combination of skill mapping, accountability, mentoring and just plain old hard-working but kicking.
OK, that was confusing. I wrote a dozen or more of these short pitches.
Every week we were expected to refine and define the pitch more and more.
Finally, this was the pitch that worked the most for my mentors in Founders Institute.
The Vertex School is building in-depth online training programs to help people get jobs in cutting edge creative technical field such as games, film, graphic design and more using our combination of skill mapping, accountability, mentoring and just plain old hard-working but kicking. We are a higher quality, more affordable and more up-to-date alternative to associates and bachelors degree programs which can be outdated by the time you finish them.
That’s 30 seconds long. Time it.
One of the biggest problems I had was defining my audience. Who am I serving?
I just couldn’t get away from saying the word “artist.” After all, I’m an Artist. An oil paint and clay sculpture artist. My heart is terra-cotta.
Try walking into a room of investors, though, and say I want to make a business helping Artist‘s… You’re either talking about artists like Beyoncé or their eyes glaze over. That’s happened to me.
I needed to find a way to talk about this opportunity… and I felt if I could explain it in a simply way to investors then I could explain it to all the young men and women who know they’re creative but don’t know what they can do… Maybe they don’t even think of themselves as creative.
I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who think they need to learn how to draw to become game artists. There are so many cool jobs that have zip to do with your drawing ability. Well paying jobs. $100,000 a year jobs.
The solution came from Jeanine during office hours. Jeanine runs the Founders Institute down in Southern California.
I was rambling about some pitch and who my market was and she said these simple words: new skills in creative tech.
Boom. Flashbulbs in the brain. That’s it. I’m not training people in oil painting techniques that are 500 years old and have a limited employability.
I’m training people in skills that can get them creative jobs using pretty dang advanced technology.
People will pay my students money to do these jobs because the technology is so advanced and hard to learn. That’s the opportunity I want for my students. It’s in the fact that this is a technology that game companies and film studios and advertising agencies need but can’t grow on their own.
And it’s Creative!
So, welcome to Vertex school. New skills in creative technology.
Our pitch is simple, take our 9 month part time programs to learn the skills and build the mileage needed to master the technology and creativity needed for today’s booming Creative Tech industries.