Razvan Vara was still in high school when he started to study on his own the effects of new technologies on the development of architecture. Passionate about the futuristic architectural visualization, he started his career as an architect not on the benches of the Architecture Faculty, but as a self-taught 3D visualizer. With over ten years of experience now, Razvan Vara is among the first ones who started tackling architecture projects in 3D software right when they were launched on the market for mass use, even though initially they were designed for game developers only. The professional services and the high quality of his work recommended him from the beginning. And as the clients kept advertising him further, the work volume grew continuously to the point he decided to create a company on his own. Driven by a modern and innovative approach based on resources co-sharing philosophy, he welcomed great visualizers around the world to apply and work in a collaborative environment where remote working was as natural as creative input and freedom. Moreover, he understood that as a 3D rendering company/studio you are always an intermediary between your clients (architectural firms, real-estate development companies, creative agencies, interior design boutiques, etc.) and their own clients. So this need to satisfy both the B2B collaborators as well as their end-clients encouraged him to perfect the art of creating marketing-ready materials, as his clients were always looking further to use them in presentations, websites, flyers, street banners, etc. Now the mission of his company is to make his customers look great in front of their clients with high-quality professional renderings by being a business-oriented partner for them who successfully combines the aesthetics and functionality of the desired imagery.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I was always fascinated by the great power of imagery, and the fact that I could create my own scenes was something unbelievable at the time.
At first, I was surfing the internet for amazing projects I could get involved in. I started applying to all kinds of projects and jobs around the world, working days and nights to comply with all my clients who were all active in different time zones (Canada, Australia, US, Japan). I had that fire, that eagerness to learn, to challenge myself, and more importantly to satisfy the clients. The first years I spent the most time on constant self-improvement, as I took on many projects to challenge myself, to deliver the high quality work it was expected of me. Also, I grew along with the software. Every update, every new feature they launched, I was among the first ones to try it out, to play with it, to master it. But polishing the technical skills wasn’t enough. Customer satisfaction was always a priority for me, and that is the reason why my client list kept growing through word-of-mouth and referrals. But as the workload kept growing, I realized I couldn’t do it by myself. So at that point, I started a web-based company with the purpose of gathering 3D artists and architectural visualization experts around the world to complete projects from different clients around the globe. It was very futuristic at the time… We yet managed to create a (virtual) nice working environment exactly how I imagined it to be: full of freedom and space to create.
How do you make money?
Surely, it takes money to make money. We invest continuously in the latest software, the latest technology, and of course, in the most important resource of all: highly professional and talented people. The retention and loyalization of our clients is an important aspect of our business. The best advertising is made by satisfied clients. At first, I spent most of the time working, achieving great technical expertise. Later on, however, I started to read and learn more about customer satisfaction, about sales, about management, business, and marketing. And I slowly realized that at the end of the day, I was offering more than just a professional 3D rendering. I was giving an architect or a real-estate agent the chance to go home early to his family, confident that we always finish our projects in time. I was giving a manager more time and energy to attract new customers. I was giving a designer the chance to sell a home, not just a house. So I realized that 3D renderings are more than high-quality images. 3D renderings are the perfect tool to create great presentations that help my clients sell their work to the end-customers. It is one of the most convincing methods of displaying an architectural project because it creates emotion and enables the clients to mentally see themselves living or working there. It is mostly a powerful storytelling tool.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I can say that the business grew organically allowing us to scale gradually. It is the kind of business you could have started with a PC and good internet connection. Since day 1, I had this mindset to do everything in my power to differentiate myself and my services on the market so I can attract clients all around the world and achieve great success through my work. We were being known for our technical expertise, beautiful aesthetics and time-saving project management. Fast and affordable, without compromising on quality. Also, we diversified the range of products we were selling. From digital brochures to printed catalogs, from flyers to OOH advertising, 3D renderings became the #1 choice for advertising materials of well-known design companies, furniture producers, hotel chains or home flippers.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I had no doubts when starting out, basically because I had no expectations at the time. Later on, I noticed that the harder I work, the more clients I manage to get. The business grew organically, and we never had a shortage of clients. Sure, there were times when the market was down, as it did in any field during the economical crisis, but we handled that right, with patience and serenity. Optimistic about the future, we encouraged not only the team but our clients as well… In the end, we were all in the same place so, for better or worse, right?
How did you get your first customer?
I used to contact all the leads I could find, online and offline. I dedicated myself a few hours every day to send emails and call possible clients. I knew that I could grow exponentially if my first clients were to be satisfied with the work I delivered, and I was right. Now our chatbot is constantly beeping since new clients are contacting us constantly. Even if I hired someone to take the calls, I still enjoy talking to new clients now and then, I still like to hear their desires and make sure they receive exactly what they want.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
The main marketing strategy is with Google Ads. That generates a lot of new clients for us. And it is pretty simple to use. We are making all of our online campaign in-house and we are very satisfied with the results. We are also using social media to showcase our work (you can check out our Instagram page) and we are receiving constant support and appreciation from the community. I don’t know other community as united and supportive as the 3D artists community (especially in the architectural renderings area).
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
One of the toughest things to decide is on is where to (re)invest the profits. Should it be new hardware, R&D, or on expanding our offices. It is like a bet on the future. It involves lots of analysis and of course, business administration knowledge. So one of the latest decision I am glad I made was redesigning our website. It felt like a fresh beginning, a new virtual home for us and for the clients; a place designed for new business.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Success is a simple equation for me: determination and work ethic. I am driven by the idea that ‘the more you work, the luckier you get’. Meanwhile, our studio’s success is due to the great team we have and the amazing results it delivers. That is the core of our business and I am very proud of that. Also, I think that innovation is a must. Passionate about technology, I am always seeking for new ways to innovate and outdo our competitors and ourselves. We are implementing different Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality applications into our projects, we reinvest most of our profits into Research & Development, and we are involved in many academic research projects – for example, the latest one was on digital semiotics in architectural space; before that, another very interesting topic we studied was the integration of NLP systems in 3D renderings. All that allows me to encapsulate the strengths and capabilities of architecture for a better understanding on the behalf of the clients, an easier transmission, and sale of it to the end-customers, and, of course, to perfect my studio’s work.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The first paycheck. And the first time someone asked to work for me. These were two very special moments that gave purpose to what I do, that motivated me and kept me relentless during the past years.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I guess it holds freedom, and that is the thing that truly excites me. Freedom to create, freedom to evolve, freedom to innovate, freedom to inspire, freedom to grow.
What business books have inspired you?
Richard Koch – 80/20 Principle
Robert T. Kiyosaky – Rich Dad Poor Dad
Tony Robbins – Money Master The Game
Robert B. Cialdini – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Dale Carnegie – How To Win Friends And Influence People
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
We’ve recently bought new servers for our rendering farm that allow us to create 3D renderings faster. This is a very important aspect of the business because it translates into more projects, more clients and more money without compromising on quality.
What advice would you give to the young freelancer who want to become an entrepreneur?
Don’t postpone anything, and do not wait for the perfect time, perfect job, or perfect client. Perfection is the enemy of profit. Do all the thing now, but be patient, for you will gather the fruits of your labor later!