Fox & Co keeps up with challenges of growing a business

Visual effects animator Phyo Thu talks about working with WellingtonNZ to get the skills he needed to lead his team and grow his small business

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Myanmar-born Phyo Thu came to New Zealand as a high school student, intending to go to university to study architecture. But his plans changed once he heard from filmmaker Sir Richard Taylor in a lecture and he set his sights on animation and visual effects instead.

After graduating from Massey University Wellington, Phyo spent his first years doing animation and VFX at an Auckland agency, then at Weta Digital. He began  freelancing, aiming to eventually start his own animation agency.

In 2015 he started Fox & Co and today employs four staff in Wellington, one in New York and has a range of freelancers on hand for different projects.

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Warren is my go-to person. I trust him with all parts of my business, I can talk to him about anything that’s going on

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Learning to build a business through WellingtonNZ

Three years after establishing Fox & Co, Phyo connected with the WellingtonNZ Business Growth and Innovation team and has been working with Business Growth manager Warren for three years now.

“Warren is my go-to person. Sometimes I don’t know what I need but I’ll tell Warren my problems and he’s able to talk to me about what the next steps should be.”

Initially, Phyo used Capability Funding vouchers which are partially funded through WellingtonNZ for expert advice, sales advice in particular to increase their domestic work, but he soon realised it wasn’t sales he needed help with.

“The business structure was more the problem and I needed help to make better decisions to lead the team,” he says.

He worked with Capo Strategies in 2020 to discuss leadership and building a stronger team and as a result he has already seen success. The team is more supported and therefore more productive, reaching its annual sales target in just six months.

Having now worked with WellingtonNZ for several years, Phyo says the ongoing support is invaluable.

“Capability comes in phases. We keep growing year on year but with that comes new and different challenges you need to solve.”

Looking at the Covid challenges

Phyo also took advantage of the Covid-19 Business Advisory funding once the impact of border closures and lockdowns globally began to sink in.

He used the funding to access financial planning and marketing strategy services to ensure Fox & Co was as strong as possible during uncertain times. By strengthening marketing and sales there was a steady pipeline of projects coming in.

"First I needed to know what the company was looking like financially and setting some solid KPIs. Then I wanted to look at marketing strategy to make sure we had enough work coming through the whole year round.”

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You can have everything you want without compromise

Why doing business in Wellington works

Phyo says working in Wellington is an experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world.

With a five-minute commute between his home and CBD office, and a 10-minute walk between his office and Wellington’s waterfront, the working lifestyle in Wellington is incredible, he says.

“I like to call myself time rich. It’s a great lifestyle where you can work full days but still have time to do your own things.”

There’s also opportunities for collaboration between agencies. Wellington is a creative city and has a lot of talent moving around, he says.

“Meeting new people now, I don’t see them as a competitor but rather a potential collaborator".

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