January 16, 2013

With the start of the New Year, many people take a leap of faith and change careers vowing to do something they love for a living. For Evan Smith and Jason Tate, this is a reality they began more than two years ago when they co-founded Pixel Dash Studios – a Baton Rouge-based video game and interactive digital media development company.

“The best part of my job is not feeling like I’m at work,” Smith said. 

Before forming Pixel Dash, Smith and Tate worked together at another local firm. When the firm dissolved, they realized they wanted to stay in digital media and gaming but there weren’t any opportunities locally. Smith, a New Orleans native, and Tate, a Thibodeaux native, wanted to build a premier digital media company in Louisiana with a focus on video games and interactive media.

“We wanted to stay local and create our own company,” Tate said. “We want Pixel Dash to live at the intersection of art and technology and are determined to make it something you can do right here in Louisiana.”

Smith, an adjunct professor in LSU’s College of Art and Design, and Tate, an LSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in systems science, have strong ties to LSU. Through these ties, Smith and Tate recognize the wealth of local talent from which they can recruit. The company currently employs LSU students and alumni with backgrounds in computer science, computer engineering and mass communication. 

Tate acknowledges that when he was a student, the University didn’t offer the same resources for aspiring entrepreneurs as it does today nor was there the same type of support for students to pursue entrepreneurialism outside of the business school.

“I learned about being an entrepreneur the old-school way,” Tate said. “I would listen to audio books on my commute to and from class and read as many books as I possibly could.”

Now successful entrepreneurs themselves, Smith and Tate know first-hand the skills students need from both inside and outside of the classroom to succeed as entrepreneurs including the ability to work with others and write effectively.

“It’s a myth that you don’t have to know how to write well,” Tate said. “From email communication to writing specs and design documents, you will have to work with end users who are not necessarily technology people and they need to be able to understand what you write.”

Smith added, “Whether you’re an artist or an engineer, you need to know business principles and the law. You need that knowledge in order to be able to navigate your career path.”

“As an entrepreneur, there are more opportunities to do what you love,” Tate said. “Take advantage of all of the resources available to you both as a student and a member of the Baton Rouge community.”

The Louisiana Technology Park, where the Pixel Dash office is currently housed, was a key resource for Smith and Tate to get the company off the ground. The co-founders also agree that networking is invaluable.

"Maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit is essential for any community seeking to expand its talent base,” said Ryan Cooney, director, Corporate Relations and Economic Development, LSU College of Engineering. “Pixel Dash is a shining example of LSU alumni utilizing skills learned in the classroom to create job opportunities for LSU engineers."

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For more information, contact Cassie Thibeaux, College of Engineering, carcen6@lsu.edu or (225) 578-0092. 



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