(As told by Eric Oakland)
In late 2010, I received a call from my friend and colleague Eric Olive who had a question for me. “Have you seen this Daniel Pink whiteboard video? And do you think you could create something like this for Susan Weinschenk of HFI?”
First, The Daniel Pink that was commissioned by RSA and created by Cognitive Media was mesmerizing. And second, this video scribing style was the culmination of every skill I’d learned over the previous 30 years. Drawing since I was 5. Getting my first break as a freelance storyboarder with a Chicago video production company. Distilling complex ideas down to basic logo and graphic designs. Entering businesses as a brand consultant and being able to quickly grasp their entire business and distill their message. It just fit for me. Not to mention that my father-in-law, Jim, had just helped me renovate his garage into a studio with 75 square feet of whiteboard space. Perhaps you can see how it made sense for me at the time.
After launching HFI’s first whiteboard animation video “The ROI of User Experience,” in January 2011, it ended up being the most successful marketing activity they had ever done. Raising awareness for their company, their philosophies and building their client base. There videos became tools that the user experience professionals used to change mindsets inside the companies worked. In fact, Jim was visiting a business consultant somewhere across the country and was shown a whiteboard animation video that his UX team had shown his executive staff. It was our video! Jim was adamant that I start thinking about turning this freelance gig into a real business.
He was 100% right because I wasn’t prepared for the influx of calls and emails. I couldn’t respond fast enough and didn’t have all the answers people were expecting of a real business. With Jim’s guidance I hired my brother-in-law, Andrew, to respond to emails and phone calls. I defined the process that would allow us to predictably deliver whiteboard animation videos. And we developed a pricing structure that covered costs, gave us a sustainable margin for growth, and allowed us to serve a lot of clients. We were quickly rolling in work and in September we hired outside the family and brought Mike in as a scribe artist. And I brought Jim and my close friend Euan in as partners.
From the very first video I had created a style that was simple and easy for me to draw over and over. I knew this would give us a distinct look, and provide potential clients with an assurance of what their video would look like and the level of quality they would receive. We also kept a close relationship with Susan Weinschenk, our first client, who studies online behavior and what is most effective in getting attention, keeping attention, and delivering information. Together we were able to develop our SCRIBOLOGY™ method which provides us with a guideline for creating whiteboard animation videos that are optimize for getting attention, keeping attention, and delivering information. You can view some of this publicly, but we reserve a lot of it for our clients.
In early 2012 we moved from the garage studio where Mike and I squeezed in next to our first camera & lighting setup to a new space that will allow us to quadruple before needing to move again. We’ve recently brought video editing ‘in-house’ which has actually made us leaner and faster compared to when we were outsourcing. And we’re in development of our 3rd generation video scribing station to make production even faster.
Even though we started a year or so behind a couple of our competitors, we quickly surpassed them in the number of videos produced. It has been our mission to free as many messages as we can and launch them onto the web. We work with entrepreneurs and startups trying to get the word out about something new. We work with fortune 500 companies like Walmart, Paypal (eBay), and HP to meet their high-quality standards. And we work with non-profits to deliver some of the most important messages that our world needs to hear. To date we’ve launched more whiteboard animation videos than any other whiteboard video scribing company in the world. That tells us that more people find our people, process, and pricing to be the best fit for them. And we think that we will be a great fit for your message too.