We had the good fortune of connecting with Rob Knauf and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rob, what do you attribute your success to?
As you are building ANY company from scratch, success comes in many forms. Especially with a creative field. From small milestones of actually getting PAID to create, legit paperwork making your company an actually LLC, to responsibilities you never imagined… like having employees! But the most consistent thing about Rowlbertos Media’s success is that we have been unapologetically ourselves from the start. This is evident in our branding all they way to our professional meetings. We aimed to be genuine and never pretended to be about something that isn’t inherently at our core. As we continue to grow creatively and professionally, we realize more and more how important building relationships really is. Even our company values reflect this, Be Cool, Be Creative & Give a Damn! We always aim to work with like minded people, that are creative, goal oriented, have strong work ethic but also like to have fun! This makes wok enjoyable and we’re very fortunate to build up our passion to a business. Video production is such a collaborative medium AND nowadays must perform for analytics sake! So the working relationship has to be in tandem with the REAL human relationship. For us this means being genuinely ourselves art all times, whether you meet us in a corporate board room or the local bar. Basically, what you see is what you get. We like to say, our clients become our homies that we enjoy to grab tacos and beer with!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Nowadays everyone has a side hustle and eventually the itch to make your own company hits. The cool part is, it’s realistic to make it happen! It’s important to note that your craft is the fun part of this but to make it a real business some “adulting” is required. Even though Rowlbertos Media is in a creative field, we never forget we are running a business. I’ve seen many others fall into the “artist-only” mindset and they can never grow their actual career. They may sneak a super creative project in but with some sacrifices of pay and no real goals in mind because they didn’t have the structure or systems in place to work as a company. It’s definitely challenging to put your craft on the back burner and have to handle some of the admin or “boring” stuff along the way. We did this and it allowed us to steer our path the way we wanted. I actually see this freedom to add some creativity IN business. You can see this with our branding, in our workflows and our general business practices. In order to run a creative business you have to take both as equal parts, creative and running a business. This helped us continue with our craft AND make real money. I am very excited to have grown our company where people are now hiring us because of our creativity NOT because we’re a crew with some cameras. Video technology is so accessible that there’s saturation of photographers and videographers these days, so it’s really your experience and relationship building that are the added value to stand out. This thinking is very empowering and proves our early foundation was instrumental. I want the the world to know that when we embark on a production with our clients, we’re cool, we’re creative and we give a damn 100% of the time, because thats how we roll.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
No matter what guests are in town, I ALWAYS take people to Balboa Park. It’s my favorite part of town and it has it all! If you can bike there, even better! Museums, gardens, and a must-stop, Panama 66. Great food & local beer with outdoor seating and sculpture garden. For a week long trip I can guarantee there would be many beer stops at Karl Strauss, Fall, & Kairoa. And of course, many many tacos would be consumed. No one does them like SD. And you can tell by our logo, we’re BIG fans. Some of our personal favorites are Tacos El Gordo, Salud and City Tacos. For outdoorsy stuff, any of the many SD Bike trails are awesome. A good 24-mile long scenic ride is the Bayshore Bikeway through Imperial Beach and up Coronado. The ride there is amazing with views of the natural preserve, and even Mexico on a clear day. Plus you can take the ferry back to downtown!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
For me personally, I can think of two organizations that helped me start my freelancing career that essentially were the springboards to where I am now, and we are as Rowlbertos Media. As I started freelancing (and not really knowing what freelancing even was) I took on all sorts of jobs right after college. If it involved me shooting and editing, I probably applied for it. Corporate stuff, random music videos, even a harlem shake viral video… I know… One key player that gave me my first paid gig was the Media Arts Center San Diego. A local non-profit organization with a mission to promote access to film and video tools for underserved communities. They we’re offering videographers projects to create mini-docs on prominent people in the community. I was addicted to creating these. The creative control I had over these projects was a great way for me to dive into every aspect of production. And boy did I! I was producing, shooting, interviewing, recording audio, AND editing. The age of the one man band was born. I took to these like water though and while some videographers would do this as a side gig and turn around one video a month… I was so focused on these I was doing about five a month! Truly a great all-around training ground for me as a young director/videographer/editor. The 2nd company, sparked my business side. WeTubeU was a company in North County San Diego trying to create a video component for small businesses for this new thing called… YouTube. The videos were very generic and after a while I got kind of bored with just being a camera operator. I took on more responsibility in the form of becoming the Production Manager. Now I was in charge of multiple teams and really learned a ton about crew management, client relationships and businesses acumen. This was all thanks to the owner to the company Lane Elliot. I would consider her my first mentor and where I got the confidence to start my own company. Like I said before, I didn’t even know what freelance was, so starting my own company wasn’t ever on my radar until I graduated college and saw the potential and opportunities. These two organization instilled skills in me that I still utilize today. Both let me grow at my own pace but there was definitely hard lessons learned. Without the people behind these organizations I wouldn’t have the vast skills in my arsenal I do today.
Photos by Jen Rubin & Andrew Rowley.