Since its founding in 2000, New Orleans-based TurboSquid has secured its position as the leading online marketplace for 3-D models. The company has maintained this position as it continues to look for ways to innovate. TurboSquid is developing new technology that expands access of 3-D content to those without experience in 3-D design, and it has built technology that allows users to manipulate 3-D models within a web browser. The new technology is featured on TurboSquid’s new site, PixelSquid.com, and will be the first and only interactive stock imagery site on the Internet. With all of these features, PixelSquid will remove barriers to access like complicated licensing and pricing structures, putting the controls back in the hands of advertisers, marketers and creative directors. TurboSquid CEO Matt Wisdom shares his company’s Louisiana innovation story:
[Q] Why did you pick Louisiana to develop TurboSquid?
[A] Buying items from a printed catalog was obviously going away, and we had ideas about how all media was going to be sold as digital files over the Internet. It seemed just a matter of time, so we picked what we knew – 3-D – and started from there. And since we were betting that you could start an Internet company from anywhere and reach the whole world, we wanted to be where we wanted to live. The social life and culture in New Orleans was too good to leave. I think this is why we’re seeing a lot of migration to warmer, friendlier places. At any point we could have easily moved and were even offered capital if we would. We never needed to, and there’s no looking back now.
[Q] What unexpected advantages did TurboSquid benefit from that could only be found in Louisiana?
[A] There was venture capital targeted to this region, which allowed us to stand out in the crowd and get great funding on good terms. Later, the accessibility of the state legislature opened up the possibility of tax credits and incentives. Over time, we found that staff retention is very high. Other places are more cutthroat, but we've found that if you build the company you want to work at in the place you want to live, people stick with you.
[Q] What is TurboSquid doing that no other company is doing?
[A] Our core products are 3-D models, which are like computer-aided design, or CAD, files that are used in computer animation and special effects. For example, TurboSquid just got a special thanks in the movie credits for “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It turns out that companies of every stripe need this kind of stuff for visualization, and so we are standardizing their creation in sale. It’s kind of like commodities for “grade A” 3-D models. We are the overwhelming market leader and are setting the standards.
[Q] When did you realize that TurboSquid would be a success?
[A] When my mother was in Colorado and her friend’s children said, “No way. Your kid started TurboSquid? That’s incredible.” My mother still doesn't really understand the business, but the fact that random people valued the company so much was an amazing benchmark.
On the analytical side, it was when we saw the revenue graph over time and it was clearly compounding. Even though the numbers were relatively small, it was clear we just needed time and it would all work out. The business is generally very predictable -- we've had quarters where the revenue forecast was within $1000, which a bit shocking, given the amount of transactions for our 350,000 products that have widely varying prices.
[Q] What is TurboSquid doing to impact Louisiana?
[A] We bring a lot of “net new” money into the market. Our sales are 63 percent international and 99.9 percent outside of Louisiana. Most of that goes back into local salaries. Beyond that, we recruit talent from out of state and help develop new talent in state. We hope that we have helped push the culture forward looking for markets beyond the ones immediately available on a local basis.
Also, being a part of a community matters. Being a part of something rising, when the future looks better than the past, is deeply satisfying. As part of that movement, you will find that the community is accessible, much more so than you probably would expect. That’s what people tell me when they move here.