Philadelphia, Pa.- On Thursday April 17, 2014, I was able to follow Bobby Reed throughout his workday as he was packaging replays and highlights for the Atlanta Braves production team while they faced the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Bobby Reed is the president of Loaded Pixel, one of the roughly 28 million small businesses in the United States. Bobby is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and has been pursing a career in video and TV production since the age of 15. After eventually moving to Philadelphia and working free-lance work for a number of years for NBC Sports among other agencies, he was able to take the relationship he had developed with co-workers Chris McGlynn and Tim Lazone to branch out on their own.
“The idea came to me at a Christmas party over drinks, like most of my ideas,” said Bobby. “I knew they were very talented at what they do and I asked them if they wanted to go out on our own.” That was the beginning of Loaded Pixel, a company that began in 2012 and is still in its early stages today.
Starting and running a successful small business ties to the core economic ideas that most all free-market capitalist abide by here in the United States. Small Business growth accounts from more than half of all job creation in the US; also small businesses outnumber corporations in the U.S. by 1162 to 1.
Statistic Brain, founded by Seth Harden and who has the goal to “Bring you accurate and timely statistics . . . to educate, assist, and sometimes entertain with numbers on every subject,” estimates that roughly a quarter of all small business do not survive their first year, half fail by year five and over two-thirds by year 10.
But clearly all of Bobby’s time isn’t devoted to Loaded Pixel, of his total calendar year he splits his time between freelancing still working in live event TV production for professional sporting events doing whatever comes his way. These events include professional and collegiate events ranging from the Frozen Four to Villanova’s Women’s Lacrosse.
“Obviously someday I expect to be just being doing Loaded Pixel, but this kind of flexibility allows me to still work and generate income while growing my business,” said Bobby.
Being self-employed clearly has its “ups and downs.” During this time of year Bobby had just finished working 16 days straight, all which began before 7 a.m. and if he was lucky ended around 6 p.m. From time to time there are days that end at 11p.m. and turn around and begin at 7 a.m. as well.
They day I spent with Bobby was not in some high-profile area. Instead it was inside a standard production trailer, tucked away in the corner of the stadium. The trailers is dimly lit with overhead lights and wrapped in a sort of orange glow from the compendium of control panels lights scattered around the trailer. Each member of the production team has their own terminal equipped with multiple monitors, the appropriate equipment to quickly cut and edit the broadcast and a headset so they can communicate with ease. The environment can quickly snap from a snail’s pace to a full sprint with producers calling for edits and replays to be cut, produced and played. In between all of this Bobby is building his own packages to show to the producer in case there is a need for extra material.
Bobby’s skill and dedication to his craft is evident in more than just his work, he has the respect of his superiors as well as peers. Kevin Muckel is a co-worker of Bobby’s in the live event TV production business and had this to say about him: “He really is great at what he does, he is extremely quick and efficient. Someday we will all be working for Bobby.” He said that with a smile, but reiterated that he was serious.
After a long day in the trailer he headed over to Xfinity Live to watch the Flyers playoff game with a few coworkers. His so-called “work-day” ended around 6 p.m., but when running your own business you’re never really off the clock. A potential client for Loaded Pixel presented itself and Bobby spent the next hour wheeling and dealing, seeing if his company could create a product that this potential customer could really put to good use.
“The hardest thing when selling the product of what Loaded Pixel does to a client is typically they just don’t know what the cost is . . . Like most people, they will have and idea and a figure in mind, they just don’t realize that for what they are asking, it will cost ‘X’ amount of dollars.”
The morning after a long day followed by a long night is kicked off at the Loaded Pixel headquarters around 10 a.m. Loaded Pixel’s main office is just 15 feet from his bedroom door, being that the office is in his home. The morning consists of reviewing work by potential applicants that are looking to work with LP; retuning phone calls all whilst enjoying the company of his 1-year-old Ridgeback “Ellie” who spends the morning pining for his attention.
Observing him as he interacts with people in person or over phone, the only word to describe Bobby’s personality is infectious. His smile and humor lifts the mood of with whom he is speaking with combined with an authenticity and knowledge of his craft that seems superior.
“I really enjoy people, talking to them and really learning about who they are,” said Bobby. This attribute of his appears to have played a significant role in enabling him to grow and sustain his business in its early stages.
The perks of working for himself become quickly become evident, as he is able to wrap-up his work by mid-day. After everything is where is needs to be Bobby is able to pack a bag, grab his dog and load up with his girlfriend in his Ford F-150 pick-up. The trio is headed down to the Eastern Shore in Maryland for a long weekend, of what appears to be some much needed relaxation time.