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Takeshi Takada, Alt.vfx co-founder is the winner of the Small Business category at the 2015 Ethnic Business Awards.
How to give thanks to the adopted homeland that gave a 12-year old boy from Tokyo a warm welcome, a first-class education and the opportunity to make his mark in the international advertising scene?
By starting a world-class post-production and visual effects studio that’s grown from six staff to 56 in four years, says Takeshi Takada, Alt.vfx co-founder and the winner of the Small Business category at the 2015 Ethnic Business Awards.
Established in 1988, the awards recognise and celebrate the innovative contributions migrants make to Australian business and the economy. NAB is the Founding and Major Sponsor.
Based in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, Alt.Vfx is the creative powerhouse responsible for the visual effects in commercials for the likes of Toyota, Honda and Tooheys – think dancing deer, talking dogs and the like.
Alt.Vfx’s services are in demand from clients as far afield as the United States, Europe and Japan, and its work has attracted a string of international awards, including a Cannes Lion and New York Festivals Awards.
Co-piloting the ship with Takada is business partner Colin Renshaw, the colleague who convinced him the pair had what it took to go out on their own in 2011, after they’d collaborated on several assignments for their former employer.
“Once we realised we worked together so well and complemented each other it seemed logical to take the next step and branch out,” Renshaw says. “We really wanted to take a punt on ourselves and away we went. It was a complete leap of faith. We were backing ourselves, and we also convinced some of our closest friends and colleagues to do the same. We had nothing on the slate but a lot of hopes.”
Rising to the challenge was nothing new for Takada, who had to do so back in 1988 when his father’s job with a Japanese landscape design company brought the family to Brisbane.
He spent eight months learning rudimentary English at the Milpera State High School for migrants before enrolling at Brisbane Grammar School where a third language, German, was also on the curriculum – and no quarter was given to the new boy.
“I was surrounded by helpful people but thrown into a competitive environment,” Takada says. “It was challenging but I played a lot of sport as well – basketball and rugby – and made friends that way.”
After completing tertiary studies in leisure management, Takada returned to Japan where he spent eight years working in the IT and advertising industries before being headhunted back to Australia in 2005 for an advertising production gig.
A solid contact book and a good name in the trade meant he was not scratching for work when he and Renshaw handed in their notice and hung up a shingle six years later.
Within a month – before they’d inked a lease for office space – the pair had landed their first gig, the much admired Tooheys Extra Dry “Nocturnal Migration” TVC for BMF, featuring a herd of nightclubbing deer; and beating overseas off competition in the process.
“I never thought in a million years we’d win that job … we were nobody, we were a couple of passionate guys who had a few contacts – but we did, and there was strong momentum at the start,” Takada says. “After the launch of our first ‘masterpiece’ demand was high, and soon we had to turn down jobs.”
Dedication to producing world-class effects has propelled the firm from skeleton start-up to a fully-fledged small business, which has doubled its turnover in the past 12 months.
That and the yin and yang of his partnership with Renshaw, adds Takada.
“We have the leadership of Colin as an entrepreneur, and creatively he’s the best. I’m behind-the-scenes, the engine room guy – I try to keep a steady ship,” he says. “Creativity over commerce is our motto. We take nothing for granted and make the most of opportunities.”
Being grateful for those he received as a youngster has provided much of the motivation to build a successful enterprise in his adopted hometown.
“The Ethnic Business Award is one of the most rewarding I’ve received,” Takada says. “I said to myself after being educated in Australia, I always wanted to pay back all the favours and contribute to the country. Running a successful business is one of the ways I can acknowledge and honour what I’ve been given.”
For more information on the Ethnic Business Awards visit: www.ethnicbusinessawards.com
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