Behind the Bell: Genius Brands International

Nasdaq's Brad Smith talks with Genius Brands International CEO, Andy Hewyard about the company's children's programming, licensing and merchandising. This wide-ranging interview provides insight into the brand and its products, as well as a personal view of Mr. Heyward.

Brad Smith: Tell us about the Genius Brand and how it got started.

Andy Heyward:Genius is in the kid's business. I've been in the kids' business my whole life. We make children's cartoons and we do the licensing and merchandising of those characters in our cartoons. And we have a channel. So, make cartoons, make the products from the cartoons, and broadcast the cartoons on our channel.

Brad Smith: What does it mean for you and the brand to be here, ringing the Nasdaq Closing Bell today?

Andy Heyward:Well, it is a huge privilege of course, its a huge honor. Its a privilege to be on Nasdaq. One that we've worked towards quite some time. And, we try to have fun with everything we do. Our company is about having purpose and the cartoons that we make about having positive value for kids, having a positive impact at the same time.

Brad Smith: You've been in the animation business your entire career, producing over 5,000 episodes of award-winning children's programs as well. Congratulations on that! Most of which are household names including: The Real Ghost Busters, Inspector Gadget, Super Mario Brothers Super Show, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears to name a few. Overall, what changes have you seen over the years in this industry?

Andy Heyward:Good question, you see a lot of changes in technology, you see a lot of changes in distribution systems, you see a lot of changes in the kid's consuming habits, of course kids consume digitally these days. Of course when I started Saturday morning was where everything was. Kids would turn on at a specific time, in was an appointment. You turned on to see the "Smurfs" on NBC, or you'd turn on "Scooby-Do" on ABC at a certain time. Today, every kid, 4-years old has a smart phone or a tablet and knows how to navigate around to find what they want, when they want it and how to get it. Technology changes the consuming patterns, but good content, good characters live forever.

Brad Smith: How have you seen the business grow, since you began running the company in November of 2013?

Andy Heyward:Well, when we started, the company had one brand, which was "Baby Genius" that we acquired into via an existing company. Today the company has seven brands. They are in different sectors. Some are for boys and some for girls. Some are older for tweens. Some are for preschool and some are for toddlers. They don't cannibalize each other. They come on different places on the programming dial. And the merchandising based on the content is in different places on the retail shelf.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.