NASA’s mission to Earth, a visual explanation of the debt ceiling and a “Weird” mission statement are all part of the portfolio of TruScribe, a fast-growing, Minnesota-based family business. The company produces marketing, e-learning and business communications videos using “Scribology,” its unique method for creating whiteboard videos, backed by neuroscience and behavioral research.
Andrew Herkert ‘09 B.A., ’13 M.A. studied art history at St. Thomas, but took a semester off during his master’s program to help launch TruScribe. Herkert asked his brother-in-law, Eric Oakland, who owned a design agency, to create his first whiteboard video at the request of a client. Although this first video took six months to create, as they pioneered the whiteboard video production process, the end result was wildly successful.
At the urging of his father, Jim, a former corporate executive who later joined TruScribe as its first CEO, Herkert decided to make the video idea into a full-fledged company. He partnered with Oakland, who became the company’s chief innovation officer and second full time employee.
“Early on it was the fact that I could speak intelligently about why it works,” said Herkert, who now serves as the company’s chief revenue officer. “I could break down iconography, drawing directly from my graduate school training. But also, I was raised by the right guy. I understood business from growing up around my father. I learned a lot about sales just from observing him.”
In its four years of existence, the company has grown from two to 31 employees, earning it a place on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list as the 253rd fastest growing privately-held company in America. That business growth is due to the many e-learning, training and development, and cyber security videos it creates for many smaller clients, but also to some of its larger ones like the Wall Street Journal and Weird Al Yankovic, who hired the company to create the video for his song "Mission Statement".
“In 2013 we got a phone call from Weird Al’s producer and business partner, who wanted to do a whiteboard video,” said Herkert. “He came to us because he said we were the best. Now, 2.2 million views later, it worked. The song is an excellent piece of the times, and working with Al was a dream come true for everyone on our team.”
Nine months later TruScribe received a call from another producer, this one working at NASA, where the company now makes videos for each mission the agency launches.
While the company grows, Herkert maintains close ties to St. Thomas. TruScribe created a video for this year’s Fowler Business Concept Challenge, for which Herkert serves as a competition judge, and he’s a member of the university’s Family Business Center, where he finds “great value being around and learning from others who work with their families.” And his business has expanded to include members of his other family: five of the company’s current employees are University of St. Thomas alumni.