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Key Idea: Do What Excites You

Craig Caryl was an extreme sports athlete before he started making films his friends.

Key Question:


Do what you love and what you know a lot about.  It helps if you are your own customer.  Craig had been an extreme street athlete so it made perfect sense to make films about what he loves.  The products are about and for the kids who skateboard, roller blade, snowbird, surf and mountain bike.

Why is being your own customer so important?

A: You don't have to try to understand your customer from the outside in, you understand him or her from the inside out. Another way to express this is, "you have to eat your own cooking." I haven't met too many founders of companies who do not, "eat their own cooking," but as companies grow, they hire people who, "don't eat the cooking.". This is one of the dangers of growth.

Craig and Evan are aging themselves, so, they are trying to hire teens to keep them immersed in the culture.

To keep the company customer-focused, the employees need to be customers themselves. A great example of this is found at Jagged Edge Mountain Gear. Watch this video, read the transcript and go through the study guide. At Jagged Edge, everybody wears the clothes. 

T-Bone started as a video production house specializing in films for television. Their biggest customer, Channel One is not big enough for them now.

Q: Why do you think Craig is moving into production for the web?

A: Because the Internet is where their audience will be the biggest in the future. They have focused on the teen audience and this specialty has attracted customers who want to provide video content for the web. While traditional television producers fear the loss of broadcast audiences to the Internet, T-Bone is learning, thinking, stretching and trying to be one of the first video production companies to specialize cyberspace.

Think about it

What kind of business could you start that will allow you to do things that are exciting to you?

Clip from: T-Bone Films

Santa Monica, California:  Two young men met in New York City, started T-Bone Films in 1993, then moved to Santa Monica to enjoy street sports 365 days a year and to grow their business. Craig Caryl does not have too much time for street sports anymore.He started hiring people in their second year of operation and then developed an intern program for those who want to get into the business.

The team at T-Bone Films  pioneered programming for extreme sport athletes and fans and they saw and embraced the web early.  This strategy helped;  Craig  doubled the business every year since beginning to offer full video production services in 1994.

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T-Bone Films

Craig Caryl, Founder

1234 21st Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1994

Do What Excites You

HATTIE: Today, we meet a young business with a youthful sensibility. Two guys met in New York City, started a company, then moved to Santa Monica to enjoy street sports and grow their business.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Just a few blocks from Santa Monica's palm tree-lined ocean front, T-Bone Films is pioneering programming for the young. Craig Caryl, owner of T-Bone Films, has doubled this business every year since beginning to offer full video production services in 1994.

FILM-MAKER: Then go into, like, little, little fade-up, fade-down to really powerful sound bites of these real people. Let's not go into the experts yet.

Well, my background is a film background. My father's a commercial director and my uncle's a film editor and my cousin's--all production. So all through high school, I was working in that genre. And outside--when I got out of high school, it was an easy decision. I became assistant cameraman in NABID, a unit in New York, and learning camera work. To me, that was college.

CRAIG CARYL: I was working moving furniture when I was 18 years old. And I was a young little entrepreneur with an old beat-up UPS truck, and I would move anybody any time. You could call me at three in the morning and I would move you, no questions asked. And I got hired to move these two producers. They asked me to move a big 12-K light into a very bad area of New York City called Alphabet City. And I sort of mentioned to them on the ride that, you know, `This is--this area is pretty hairy you're going to. Do you know what you're getting into'? And they gave me the, `Look, pal, just drive the truck.'

HATTIE: We know.

CRAIG: I'm, like, `OK. OK, big guy.' And then the security guys showed up, and the security guys were a little overwhelmed. And they said, `Hey, you know, you seem to know your way around here and why don't you stay for the day and we'll pay you 100 bucks to just be, you know, like a mean mover guy with a big baseball bat.' And I'm, like, `OK.' And I just--the energy of the people and the creativity of the people, I was totally sold. It was like a drug and I was an addict. And I've been in the film business since that day.

HATTIE: How did you and Craig get this started?

FILMMAKER: Well, we got this started kind of in an interesting way, as I'm sure a lot of small businesses start, out of necessity. It's like we both were in the free-lance world. I was a director-cameraman and he was a producer. And basically, the job started--just was starting to hit on what was coming our way. I mean, we really weren't in control of our destiny. So we decided to start our own company.

HATTIE: And you financed this all yourself.


HATTIE: Where did that money come from?

FILMMAKER: Well, at first, you know, we just did it, you know. We started a shack, in a tool shed in back of my house, though we put our--we had a three-quarter-inch convergent super90 edit system and we decided to start doing our own stuff.

CRAIG: We were just going to do--we were going to start off doing extreme sports because we really wanted to do what we loved. And even if we could just live above the poverty line doing extreme sports, it would be great, snowboarding and skiing and skateboarding.

HATTIE: You started the business to be able to do what you wanted to do.

CRAIG: Oh, clearly, it was that we wanted to do what we wanted to do and try to make a living at what we loved doing, which was, you know, we loved sports. We loved extreme sports. And this was a way for us to spend our days, you know, doing our sport and making a little money at it.

HATTIE: Now you did not put your names on the company.


HATTIE: Did you do that intentionally?

FILMMAKER: Well, the funny thing about our name, T-Bone, we're looking for a name, we're thinking of a name, a cool edgy name that really says everything because we wanted to hit that gen-X kind of target market. And our cat came by and said, `Meow.' His name was T-Bone. And we said, `T-Bone Films.' You know, it just stuck.

HATTIE: And so your company's named after your cat?


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