There’s No 9-5 in This Game

Running a successful business with an international client base is impressive, but running a business with an international client base all before you’re 30 is, I think we can all agree, a true feat.

Dylan Healy has achieved just that with his business, Animation Explainers. The company does what you’d expect: produces animations to explain business ideas and products in a simplified manner. We caught up with Dylan to ask about how he started the business and the challenges he faced over the years.

So, let’s go back to before you started your business. What is your educational background and what did you do before you founded the company?

I attended St Ninian’s High School, graduating in 2012. From there, I went on to study Business Management at Newcastle University for three years. Alongside studying, I did various jobs growing up. My first proper job as a Chinese delivery boy at the Hot Wok. I also worked a stint at Costa Coffee, picketing & fiyering for a burrito joint in Newcastle, as well as three years behind the bar at O’Donnell’s as a psychologist and selling “Nikey” Air Max online on Ebay. All of these jobs were really enjoyable & experiences which helped to build some character, a work ethic and helped me understand the value of working generally.

When did you become interested in creating the business? 

I started the business back in 2017 with my business partner Aaron. We met on an internship, working for Marketo EMEA in Dublin. Aaron and I couldn’t be more different people in general, but it’s a certain dynamic we have and how we work together that has really elevated AE to where we are today as a business. He’s the integrator and I’m more of the innovator within AE. 

We had a lot of free time on our hands being the interns in the office. We ran with the Animations until we started to get traction in the crypto and blockchain space in the summer of 2018. We got our first project from a company called MingoCoin & Joe Arthur. He gave us our first shot – we didn’t even know how to send an invoice out back then. The rest as they say is history and we moved forward from there. 

We really enjoy working with difficult concepts/ companies/ ideas and using our animation/ advertising skills and our RISE™ Creative process to simplify things for our clients and create something truly stunning in the form of a short, timely video. 

When did you decide to build the business? 

From the initial phase of building AE, it became apparent that there was a commercial opportunity for our product. It was when we hit that blockchain/ crypto space and started to land a few clients in Dublin and on the island, we knew we were onto something good for sure. We didn’t know at the time that it would have been a workable, viable career – but here we are three years down the line. We are currently out in NYC building up our US operations on the East Coast. I really can’t believe how far this opportunity has taken us. 

What initial challenges did you face? Did starting a business at a young age bring any particular challenges? 

When you start your own business, you have to do absolutely everything in the early days – from HR, recruitment, legal, tax, sales, marketing, paperwork – until you can start to delegate tasks. It takes you out of your comfort zone big time but you learn quickly. Even when you mess up, you’re the one picking up the pieces. Normally you just have to focus on one area as a graduate, but at AE we had to focus on absolutely every discipline. It does get easier though as your company grows and you’re able to delegate and elevate tasks. 

Any good advice for those wanting to start their own businesses? Any advice that has stuck with you?

Owning your own business is a 24/7 hour job. Just last month I was up at 2am finalising paperwork with a guy in Taiwan on Whatsapp chat. There are some mental, mental lengths you have to go to sometimes to secure deals/ business – there is no such thing as a 9 to 5 in this game.  

I think a lot of people shy away from taking risks when you’re young and without major pressures, the downside of taking a risk isn’t really there. If you’re wrong or make mistakes, you learn… It’s worth a punt and you’ll work it out along the way if you have enough passion for whatever you want to pursue in life. Don’t let the naysayers get you down or influence your thinking. 

Co-founders Dylan Healey and Aaron Connolly

Biggest learning curb?

Having doors close in your face daily. You have to have a thick skin because you are going to get ‘no’ on a daily basis. Accepting rejection and keeping ploughing is certainly a learning curb. 

Has working from the Isle of Man had any advantages?

You have the support of your friends, family and a tight knit community at home, for sure. I’ve worked in a few cities before and the work life balance here is fantastic. It really does help you find some peace and a quiet moment when you need it. 

I found the support services here to be brilliant for SMEs – be it opening a bank, insurance cover, legal advice, government support or just general advice from folks around the island. It’s easy to reach many people you need to grow a business. 

Big shoutout to my Dad, Mark ‘Lombard’ Healy; La Rainne Baga & Phil Grounds for their continued support all based on the island working with us. Also to my long suffering buddies J Whitelegg, J Coyle, Al Bell, Charles J Burton, Tom Cain & Andy McCabe for the moral support, general guidance & beers over the years. 

You can check out the work Dylan and Animation Explainers do on their website: 

Take a look at the AE portfolio here and a recent example of their work below: