Q&A Inside Track: Trevor Courtney, Igloo Animations
Getting animated about telling it as it is
Trevor Courtney: “Keep the wrong people away and the right people close, and watch out for people that use the word ‘synergy’”
Igloo Animations is an award-winning animation studio specialising in making complex topics easy to digest.
What is special about your business?
Igloo Animations is the only Dublin-based company specialising in animated explanatory videos for the internet with a unique product called GimmeTheShortVersion.com
What has been your major success to date?
Getting Facebook as a client, having Stephen Fry tweet about one of our animations, having Sir Ken Robinson writing about us is his blog and meeting Enda Kenny and showing him our animation that explains Nama. in two minutes !
What has been your biggest challenge?
Finding the right people to work with.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting a business?
Get a mentor immediately. Dublin City Enterprise Board (or similar) can help. Spend as little cash as possible when testing your idea and let the world tell you if your idea works, not one or two people you know personally. Don’t get ahead of yourself and don’t partner up with anyone unless you are certain. Keep the wrong people away and the right people close and watch out for people that use the word “synergy” . . . Make sure what you’re doing is within your comfort zone – within reason. Remember, mak- ing mistakes only assists you to move in the right direction.
Who do you admire in business and why?
I admire anyone who has created their own job or business to fit their individual lifestyle in an area they are passionate about.
What two things could the Government do to help make life easier for SMEs?
The Government could help more with mentoring and support for SMEs that have been up and running for three to four years or a little more. It does seem that the start-ups get a lot attention but once they’re up and running they get forgotten about to some degree. I personally want to keep learning all of the time and would welcome any kind of night course where there might be 10 SME company owners that work in a similar field (or not), who could have group discussions, guest speakers and mentoring. If a course like that existed, I would gladly pay.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
Just simple things really, like anytime I haven’t trusted my own instincts has always led to mistakes. It still happens the odd time, but your instincts are always right. If you think something is not going to work out, then it probably won’t.
What’s the most frustrating part of running a small business?
Well, the obvious one is just that the business is always there and it needs constant maintenance and you are responsible for it. So taking time off has become something that I actually just plain forget to do. It’s usually someone from the office down the hall or my accountant that will tell me to take a long weekend or to get more sleep, but for some reason that always slips my mind completely.
What’s your business worth and would you sell it?
WOW!!! Ehhmm, I think half a mil (and I don’t say things like “Half a Mil” BTW) and no, not unless my passions for something else grew stronger and I was naturally pulled in a new direction. I can’t see that on the horizon at the minute.
In your experience are the banks lending to SMEs currently?
I don’t know. I have never taken on any loans or grants. I have never been comfortable owing money for any reason, not just in business. The thought of a bank loan would be always be just sitting there grinding at me. I’m happy to avoid it.
In conversation with Olive Keogh