Jody Gannon is Founder of The Big B animation co. GmbH. An animation & multi-media services & production company based in Berlin and now with a new office in Dublin
How did you get the idea/ concept for your business?
By reading too many marvel comics as a child! But unable to choose between a career in art, illustration, music, drama, dance, film making, I quickly discovered that animation combines all of them!
Give a brief account of your education background.
Unusual for the Creative industry, I went to Art college after school, and then a decade later took a post graduate degree in media management. The former provides my work, the latter runs my business!
Did you always know/ever think you would become an entrepreneur when you were younger?
No not at all. Get somebody else to bother about it was my original thinking, but then it became a question of independence. That I needed to keep!
Is entrepreneurship a common trait in your family?
Yes! In a family of 5 siblings, we have the unusual distinction that every one of us owns & runs our own business…but in entirely different industry sectors!
Did you have prior knowledge of the industry before setting up your company?
Yes, as a freelancer for about 20 years!
What was your previous work experience (if any)? Do you think this gave you an advantage when setting up your business?
My previous experience and established reputation, was not just an advantage but an essential asset to founding the business. I already had a clear track record and reputation established in the Industry when setting up on my own. So, I did not require the difficult part that faces a lot of start-ups/young entrepreneurs i.e. proving oneself!
How did you initially fund your business? (self-funded, government funding, etc)
I set up in 2008, about the worst business year to do so! But as I was well established in the industry already, I was able to provide services for known contacts from the start and actually never received any support, funding from any other body. Which is certainly not typical among the start up scene in Berlin!
Looking back, would you have changed the method of funding you chose?
Well, I’d advise myself to actually start to apply for it!
What difficulties, if any, did you encounter when securing funding?
Having to route through yards of civil servants to fund ‘Creative’ content was put off enough. So, I avoided state funding.
Did you encounter any financial difficulties in the first year of operation? If yes, what did you do to surpass them?
The animation business is mainly project by project and is notoriously feast or famine. Way too much or nothing at all. Filling the gaps between projects is the issue, and often absorbs any real previous win. So requires careful planning to achieve consistency.
What characteristics do you feel benefited you most when starting your business?
The freedom to manoeuvre and make my own choices, even if they were subsequently bad ones! I live in one country (Sweden) with my family and I work in another, (Germany) and I was born in a third, (Ireland). There is simply no way of managing this without having the ability to make my own decisions on when to travel where!
To what do you attribute your company’s success/growth to?
The ability to produce what is required, reliability, and good reputation, but all hard won by constant effort! and luck when it is broken down into it’s best definition: ‘When preparation meets opportunity’
What is your opinion on the importance of a professional network for an entrepreneur?
Essential! Which is why I have taken up a role in the Irish business Network in Germany. A Network provides you with so many benefits with little or no cost. Knowing the people ‘who can’ is a huge advantage. Independence should never mean operating alone!
Do you think entrepreneurship has changed in recent years?
I am not sure if it has changed in it’s own essential nature, but the vast sea change has been in how much it seeped now into the general world of work. Open to so many people now who may never have considered it just a decade ago. Great communities and support, though actually I think there is a lot to be done legislation wise to support entrepreneurship. It is also maybe being forced on some people these days who may not entirely want it.
(I consider that as soon as you work freelance you are effectively an entrepreneur. It does not require setting up a business per se.)
Would you ever consider starting another company or involving yourself in new start-ups again?
Yes! Opened a Dublin office this year and investigating a partnership with India right as we speak. Though perhaps the focus has changed, my previous business model has been in services provision, I am now more focused on project development.
If you had one piece of advice for a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Control of your own destiny. Scary, but hardly anything in life more satisfying than that. Take the risk and be prepared to lose and crash badly as well as win handsomely, you’ll be better off for having given it a go regardless.