Casey Hunt, 27

Reza Rasoli, 28

Greg Gunn, 29

Three Legged Legs, Santa Monica, a trio of television and Internet commercial directors

Employees: Three co-founders

Financials: 2010 revenue of $150,000.

What was the biggest challenge?

Hunt: We had just come off a really fantastic job in mid-2008 when the recession hit. We felt it a little bit later then everyone else, but eventually work became really scarce. Three Legged Legs basically has no overhead, so we were able to stay alive. But there was a span of time where we were digging for scraps.

How many hours a day do you put in?

We used to work a standard 10-hour day from 10-ish to 8-ish. Recently, we’ve pulled that back to a 9-er, still starting at 10-ish. But when the going gets rough, we’ve put in much longer hours. Twelve- to 14-hour days are not uncommon. We’ve even worked nonstop weekend marathons Friday through Monday without leaving the office. We don’t plan on doing that much more these days.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers?

You’d think, but it hasn’t really been an issue. Generally, we try to think and act as though everyone is working with us, as opposed to for us. We have a very casual, very open dialogue with all the people on our teams. There’s a huge amount of mutual respect, as we are always working with extremely talented artists who are way better than us.

Where did you get the startup money?

Rasoli: An initial investment was made by the fine folks at Greendot Films. Three work stations, three bad-ass chairs, a white board and we were off to the races.

What was the biggest challenge?

We love what we do. Sometimes we love it too much and we get way too attached to our ideas. At the end of the day, we are working for clients who are paying us to make cool work, it’s sometimes a challenge to let go a little bit and do as we are told.

What was the most important lesson you learned?

Never sit idle.

How many hours a day do you put in?

Nine hours on average. All-nighters were common in our earlier years, but they are becoming rare as time goes on.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers?

Not that I know of. But I’m sure if I was being told what to do by a clone of myself, I’d have a little voice in the back of my head saying, “This eff-ing kid. ...”

Will you start another company?

Possibly, but unlikely.

Could you ever work for someone else?

Yes, but I would reserve the right not to if I could.

What do you do to relax?

Going to stand-up comedy shows are a great way to loosen up and take a moment to laugh out loud. Picking up the bass guitar and jamming with my ex-band mates is always fun, too. However, when I have traveled, it’s probably been the most relaxed I’ve ever been. A guilt-free disconnection from home does wonders.

What led you to start your own company?

Gunn: It was really a happy accident. The three of us were working together a lot at Otis College of Art and Design for our junior and senior years, making shorts and experimenting. We submitted a couple of pieces to a film festival and received a phone call from Greendot Films, a commercial production company that books directors for commercials, shortly thereafter.

What was the biggest challenge?

It is tough out there, especially for a ministudio of three. We operate on a very small scale by comparison, so we were able to tread water during those rough patches. Granted, it’s very discouraging to lose seven job pitches in a row.

What was the most important lesson you learned?

Be creatively proactive. If you have down time, enjoy it for a second and then get hustling again, which is more valuable: two months worth of personally generated new work or your kill ratio on “Call of Duty”?

Will you start another company?

I hope not. I would like to keep Three Legged Legs alive and kicking for a while.

Could you ever work for someone else?

Under the right circumstances and creative umbrella, perhaps. It would be tough to give up the way we like to work after developing it for five years, but maybe, just maybe, it could happen.

What do you do to relax?

I like to exercise and cook at least one delicious, challenging meal a week from scratch. Cooking is cathartic and a great time spent away from the computer. To keep my creative juices flowing, there are a couple of personal and collaborative projects outside of advertising that I really enjoy working on.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.