Thank goodness for networking events like last month's Launch Party Vancouver - you never know who you'll meet. C100 Co-Chair and ALTOS Ventures Partner Anthony Lee was up from Silicon Valley and introduced me to Aly Jetha of Big Bad Boo Studios.
I hadn't heard of Big Bad Boo but it turns out they are a Vancouver success story that has been right under my nose. Their office is across the street from Techvibes.
Big Bad Boo Studios was founded by Jetha along with his wife Shabnam Rezaei and currently employs 70+ in Yaletown. They provide a full range of animation production services for both Big Bad Boo properties and as a co-producer for partners around the world. 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.
If you're an Apple fan like Jetha and Rezaei, you may have seen Big Bad Boo's iPhone in Business profile (below). The husband and wife team have two iPhones, an iPad, several iPods, Apple TV, Macbooks, and to top it off, their entire studio from pre-production to post is decked out with Apple computers, servers and software.
Jetha and Rezaei have always thought that there is not enough color on television and that having different perspectives can teach kids about multiculturalism. And their Big Bad Boo properties definitely reflect that.
In 1001 Nights they have a brand that is globally recognized and an opportunity to educate kids through folklore that has been around for hundreds of years. Production of the second series of 1001 Nights has begun and it was just nominated for four Leo Awards in BC. They've also signed up Disney Southeast Asia, Al Jazeera Children’s Network, MTV3 Finland and are working on other TV distribution deals.
In addition to production work, Jetha and Rezaei have launched their own distribution site called Oznoz which sell their own cartoons as well as books, games and toys from other independent producers. Over the next year, they plan to roll out six other languages and also provide digital downloads and streaming television.
Animation Magazine interviewed Jetha and Rezaei last month and one of their questions was about how animators can monetize the web. Oznoz takes care of that and Jetha responded as follows:
We are very much in the process of building these channels certainly for our content and for the multicultural and educational niche in which we are playing. With oznoz.com we already have a very strong Persian customer base that buys products from us. This started out with our first product Babak & Friends – A First Norooz which a direct-to-DVD holiday special about the Persian New Year. Since then we have introduced board games that teach Farsi. We have introduced language learning books, flashcards, magnets, and other fun DVDs for different age groups that serve this purpose. In addition to streaming and downloading, we also hope to take advantage of new mobile devices such as the iPad. With iTunes we are able to reach a lot of people and there is no reason not to. I think it will take some time but we are here to build this out for multiple cultures and think there is a real market for it.
It's safe to say that Big Bad Boo Studios and Oznoz are now on my radar. Especially since I walk past their office everyday.