Business isn’t always about boardrooms, briefings and black coffee. So, in tribute to the North-East men and women who take a more unusual approach to enterprise, Deputy Business Editor Lauren Pyrah takes a look at the unconventional, alternative or downright difficult careers in the region’s economy

Gary Boon, 41, is managing director of Shout Digital, based in Newcastle

TELL us about your business.

We’re an agency which does everything digital. We develop apps on all major platforms, alongside services such as website design and build, online marketing, social media and print design and infrastructure services.

We have a holistic approach to everything digital and do a complete broad spectrum of things.

With respect to app development, we got that because I decided we should go that way three years ago, when people in the North-East weren’t doing a lot of app development.

WHAT’S your background?

I got into the industry in 2004.

Before that, I worked for a consultancy for the UK banks.

One of my projects was developing an early version of the chip and pin system.

The idea for that came from Visa and Mastercard. I spent four years of my life working on how the software should work.

Working for a bank means that the system has to work all of the time – there can be no mistakes. I’ve carried that standard throughout my working life.

After 14 years of that, I decided I was a bit bored, so I left and started to look for another job.The opportunity came up to technical director at Th_nk. I was on the board and I was a shareholder, and I helped grow the Th_nk brand. That is where I learned my trade in the digital sector.

TELL us about some of the apps you’ve developed.

We design all sorts of apps, from fun games to those with a more functional purpose.

For OK! Magazine, we created Celeb Spotter, an app which links with a news agency and tells people about where their favourite celebrities will be – for example, if One Direction are doing a signing, it will tell you when and where. It gets updated on a daily basis.

We did one for a company whose owner is really into greyhounds, and the brief of the app was it had to link in with sustainability. We came up with a game which is based at a greyhound track. You have to scoop up the dog poo and it is used as sustainable energy to power the stadium.

You have to collect enough poo to keep everything running.

We created a more functional app for a law firm, which worked out complicated human resources formulas like maternity pay, which previously had to be done on a spreadsheet. They can now be done using the app, which is really useful.

The great thing is it is all done here in Newcastle. Every single piece of work, from the ideas and the design to the implementation, is all done by a single team.

WHAT do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variety – every day is different. I have one aim, to become one of the top agencies in the UK. Getting there is the fun part.

I might get completely bored once I have got the agency there but the road you travel to get there is exciting.

We are a young company and we have a fantastic team.

We have a flat structure and we come in and enjoy ourselves.

That is how we come up with such creative ideas.

WHAT’S the next big thing in digital?

Near field communication (NFC) – a form of wireless communication through smart phones and other similar devices.

We are already seeing things like contactless transactions, but it can be used for many other things. I can see this being used for a whole host of different applications.

That is really exciting. Mobile phones are getting more and more powerful.

WHAT kind of mobile phone do you have and how often do you use it?

My mobile phone is an iPhone 4S, which will soon be upgraded to an iPhone 5. I have always had an iPhone. Apple just completely understand the user experience. From that point of view, they are better than anything else out there at the moment.

And how often do I use it? It would probably be shorter period of time when I don’t use it. I think I use it all the time. I am even holding it in my hand right now. It’s like a comfort blanket.

WHAT’S the future for the agency?

We are about to turn three years old. We have had a fantastic journey so far.

We are really working on taking it to a national agency.

We already have some blue chip clients and we want to consolidate that position.

We are growing the business and working hard. There is a long way to go and these things don’t happen overnight.

I just want to be up there and get a great reputation for what we do.