Pink Kong’s great adventure

‘We are passionate about the content we are developing and believe our work can compete on the international stage’ – Niamh Herrity.

Dublin animation company, Pink Kong Studios, was co-founded in 2014 by producer Niamh Herrity and creative director Aoífe Doyle. Here, Niamh Herrity talks about building a business in one of the most creative, yet competitive, industries in the world.

Our business idea was to build a scaled, commercially strong business producing high-end animated content for worldwide viewers. 

This past year has been great. I won a Dublin City Women in Business Network ‘High Potential Business’ award. The company was shortlisted in the Bank of Ireland national startup awards in two different categories, and our short film ‘Meanwhile on the train’ won awards on the international film festival circuit.

We’ve just completed a short film, ‘Urban Tails’, commissioned by RTÉ Animated Short Schemes to be aired Autumn 2016. And we are really excited to have been awarded funding from The Irish Film Board to do a short film which is currently in preproduction.  

Being accepted into Cartoon Forum is an excellent way to get your project in front of the eyes of the industry. We had previously applied without success; the competition is fierce so that disappointed us in the past. However, we kept going, building on our ideas and are delighted to be pitching this year.

I think whenever there are setbacks you should allow yourself to take that moment to be disappointed; it is human nature. Consider it and then move on. Life is full of hurdles, so you just need to learn how to take it on board, make adjustments and not get too bogged down by it. Day to day stress is different to ‘setback’ stress. Planning your day and setting tasks helps combat the stress of the things you need to do on a daily basis. 

aoife and niamh pink kong

My attitude to risk

I think you need to be strategic with risk. On one hand, we would not be here if we didn’t take a risk in the first place. We did do a lot of research before we decided to take the big leap, though. We did everything we could do to get an understanding of the industry, to find out where the funding comes from, who our potential customers would be and what the audience trends are. There will always be an element of risk, especially if you want your company to grow, it could be risky to choose one development project over the other, to decide to follow different technology trends. At the end of the day you have to make a call on what feels right for you at the time and live with the outcome, some will be winners and some won’t.

What I know now

If I were starting in business again, I would take a big holiday before I jumped in, because as soon as you start a business, it is all-consuming. I would not have sweated the smaller things, kept the focus on the vision and learned to give myself some time out. You need to learn to switch off at times and yourself a brain break.

urban tails pink kong

The money

We have two different revenue streams. The first comes from executing service work, making advertising & videos for other brands or companies. The second comes from our intellectual properties and co-productions. The finance for the latter has to be raised via the Irish Film Board/ BAI/ RTÉ and other government bodies.

We received a priming grant from Dublin City Local Enterprise Office. It helped us as it gave us the opportunity to hire new staff. That enabled us to grow the current properties we are working on and that, in turn, has allowed us to take on more service work which is the bread and butter of the company.

My business hero

Conor McGregor. He needed an unbelievable amount of determination and self-discipline to achieve his goal against all the odds. He has taken significant risks, disrupted the industry in a major way and reaped the rewards.    

My motivation 

Doing something, that is truly my own. We are passionate about the content we are developing and believe our work can compete on the international stage. Seeing our content grow from a single idea scribbled on a piece of paper right through to screen is very satisfying. Bringing stories to life is what motivates us.

urban tails pink kong

My ambition 

We want to create great content that people can connect with. Like any business owner, we would like the company to be profitable and to create value in the work that we do. We will do this by building on our strong creative team and by growing and giving opportunities to new directors who have their ideas to bring to the table.

Doing business in Ireland 

I am pretty happy with the entrepreneurial culture in Ireland. I feel we get things done even though Ireland would be perceived to be relatively laid back. I would change a few things around income tax though and would like to see more support for start-ups and the self-employed. Cash is king and more could be done to help companies survive the first few years.