Mon, 20 October 2014
Introducing Gene Fowler
Gene Fowler is a man who knows the ups and downs of running a creative business in an untraditional location. He is the owner and creative director at the animation studio Loogaroo, which is a boutique animation agency focusing on commercial animations and tablet gaming. Gene is also the creative director at the publicly traded e learning company Blue Drop. He works both jobs out of his hometown studio in Miramichi, New Brunswick-- an area mostly known for fishing and the pulp and paper industry.
Loogaroo wasn’t Gene’s first kick at the “animation” can. Back in 2000, he and a few fellow animators were laid off at another animation studio and decided that they would try to take the reigns of their own gig. They formed Fat Kat Animation Studios in Halifax, Nova Scotia and made some animations and put them online. Soon enough, they got noticed and started creating flash animated training videos. Three years later, Fat Kat had 50 employees and was making animations for Fortune 500 companies like Nike and Boeing. Gene ended up giving away the company to its CEO for next to nothing and the company went out of business shortly later. Gene went back home to Miramichi and decided to try again, but this time focusing less on e learning and more on entertainment. The idea of a successful animation studio in the middle of the woods of New Brunswick was originally scoffed at, but a few years later, Fat Kat was employing around 120 people, had $175,000 in expenses, and was billing around $10 million a year.
The success lasted until 2008, when people’s attention shifted from televisions to iPhones. Big companies started to spend less on traditional advertising, and broadcasters stopped buying content at the same volume. On top of this, New Brunswick changed their tax credit for film and television producers, which made it much more difficult to compete. Fat Kat had gotten too big, too quick and the company fell into ruin within a year. Clients got what they were owed, employees were paid but the shop was closed. Not to be defeated by failure, Gene picked himself up, walked across town, and opened back up again under the heading Loogaroo. The new studio is a much smaller, but tighter business. There are fewer people and projects, but Gene is much happier.
In this episode
Gene tells us the stories of his past success, failure, and then success again. He explains how telling this story can be cathartic and helps him move on. Greg relates with his own business failure, and explains how it really isn’t a fail if you try again or can take something from the experience. Gene also tells us about his enlightening experiences in Jamaica and how it has influenced his attitude of living everyday like he is already retired. Dave is impressed by Gene’s attitude toward the past and that he doesn’t shy away from it. Dave also coaxes Greg to reveal a great achievement.