iPhone in Business

Big Bad Boo

"One of the things I love about the iPhone is I can get a complete, up-to-date spot-check wherever I am in the world on everything that’s important in my life."

Aly Jetha,

Diversity through animation. Efficiency through iPhone.

At Big Bad Boo Studios in Vancouver, the message is tolerance, the medium is animation, and the business tool of choice is iPhone.

“We’re in the media business, so it’s really important for us to be able to access all types of files,” says Cofounder Aly Jetha. “We chose iPhone because it allows us to view images, documents, video, and music no matter where we are, with no integration issues. And that’s crucial to our business.”

Husband-and-wife team Aly Jetha and Shabnam Rezaei founded Big Bad Boo together, with the goal of teaching children tolerance—particularly, tolerance and appreciation of cultural diversity—through animation. At their company, iPhone is indispensable not just for reviewing files but also for communication, production, sales presentations, travel, accounting, and something else they know a lot about: fun.

Demos anywhere

Bid Bad Boo may be an animation studio, but it’s also a business, with the need to stay on budget and generate revenue. Jetha and Rezaei spearhead every aspect of that business, including sales. For demos and presentations, they’re never without iPhone.

In fact, Rezaei recently made a sale on a train. “I was going from Washington, D.C. to New York, and I bumped into a network executive who was interested in seeing one of our episodes. So I pulled out my iPhone, gave her a headset, and she sat there for 11 minutes, watching the entire episode. By the end of the ride, she wanted to buy the show.”

For presentations, iPhone is just as effective. “I have given full presentations to investors and network buyers on the iPhone,” says Jetha. “I take my Keynote presentation, export it as a QuickTime file, and then put it on my iPhone. So while I’m talking, I can go into actual clips from a show.”

At trade shows and media conferences, those capabilities come in just as handy. “The iPhone has become the tool of choice,” says Jetha. “Everybody walks around with it, because you can show off your products without having to pull out a laptop. And it’s extremely easy. You’ve got your entire presentation right there in front of you.”

Road buddy

“I’m on the road a lot,” Rezaei says. “And iPhone is a computer that’s truly mobile. It allows me to connect with my colleagues, stay on top of the production schedule and budget, and, in one place, have a view of everything that’s happening for the day.”

All without adding extra pounds to her luggage. In fact, quite the opposite: “With my iPhone, I’ve been able to replace my camera, my voice recorder, my GPS, my iPod, and my newspaper,” Rezaei says. “I love to travel light.”

When travelling, both Rezaei and Jetha fire up the apps—dozens of them. They use Avis Reservations to book cars; Bloomberg, New York Times, and AP for news; Urban Daddy to find restaurants and clubs in foreign cities; Scrabble, Sudoku, and Tetris to kill time on trains and subways; the camera to photograph images of people, animals, and settings to inspire their animators and background designers; Maps to navigate to meetings; and Notes to jot down story ideas and character descriptions.

And that’s not all. “Often, I’m in a cab in New York City, and I’ll use the Traffic app,” says Rezaei. “Then I can tell the driver not to take a certain road, because there’s traffic ahead.” With an app called Subway, she can consult subway maps for New York, London, and Vienna. And an app called FlightTrack gives her an up-to-date electronic itinerary, so she doesn’t have to shuffle paper printouts.

Jetha has his own travel favourites. “The iPod on iPhone is just crucial,” he says. “When I’m on a plane, it’s a great time to catch up on Jon Stewart or Lost. Or I might review voice records for the show. And in the morning, when I’m running, I use the songs to get motivated.”

Jetha is also fond of Mobile Receipt, which helps him track expenses. “You take a photo of your receipt with iPhone and email it to your account,” he explains. “Then it actually generates expense reports for you.”

Inventing a world, via iPhone

At Big Bad Boo, iPhone has also become a production tool. “We use the Voice Memo app,” Rezaei explains. “When voices are not recorded properly in a show, I can pull out my iPhone, re-record the line, and email it off to my editor, who plugs it into the animation as a temporary track.”

When Rezaei and Jetha travel, they use video on iPhone to convey expressions to their animators back in Vancouver. “Recently, we were working on a scene with an evil emperor who makes a scary face,” says Rezaei. “And the animators couldn’t get it. So I acted it out, and we recorded it, and then we emailed it off to the animators. And within an hour, we had the scene back to us pretty much in the form that we wanted.”

On schedule and on budget

In media production, schedules and budgets are tightly linked. “We’re running budgets in the $3 to $4 million range,” Rezaei says, “and every day that goes by is crucial to the bottom line. With the iPhone, we’re able to stay on schedule, and that is vital.”

“We need to turn around designs in 24 hours,” Jetha agrees. “No matter where we are.” iPhone allows them to do exactly that. “We can view scripts, documents, storyboard files, animated stills, music files that come from our composer, and actual animation,” Jetha says. “We can pull up all of these files on iPhone and approve them immediately.”

Fast approval times save money—about 20%, according to Aly’s estimate. “The iPhone is the most powerful device in terms of handling information,” he says.

“It isn’t just a phone,” Rezaei says. “It’s everything. It’s an all-encompassing tool that’s indispensable in a business environment.”

Company Snapshot

  • 70 employees
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • www.bigbadboo.ca
  • Big Bad Boo’s series include Mixed Nutz, about a 9-year-old from Iran; 1001 Nights, based on the classic stories; and Gone Bananas!, about a trio of mischievous monkeys.

“From my iPhone, I can do a money transfer. I can process a credit card transaction. I can monitor the company’s positions in different equity markets. I can review anything that anyone on my staff needs to send to me.”

Aly Jetha, Co-Founder

iPhone for fitness

Fitness is important to both Rezaei and Jetha, and they want to keep their workouts consistent while travelling. Thanks to iPhone, they stay on track. “The Nike+ app is incredible,” Jetha says. “It measures your run, and tells you how many calories you’ve burned, and that’s really useful on the road when you’re unfamiliar with the area and don’t know the distances you’re going.” The couple also monitors their calorie intake with the Lose It app. “It helps us track with our weight-loss goals,” says Rezaei. “And it’s really satisfying, at the end of the day, to check the app and see that we’ve met our targets.”

A new distribution tool

At Big Bad Boo, iPhone is more than a business tool: It’s a media player and distribution device. “One of the things that’s really common in the industry is the pass-back,” Rezaei says. “When a parent plays a short animated clip on iPhone and passes it back to the child, in the backseat of the car. With our 1001 Nights series, we’re now creating short content designed exactly for the iPhone, that’s downloadable online, so parents and kids can enjoy it on the road.” Or wherever they are. “The iPhone is a pioneer in this area,” Rezaei says. “We can now put content in a format that enables people to watch it on their phones and email it to friends. And that’s an extremely powerful distribution mechanism.”

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