In early 2016, Thom Tanner was working for a medical device manufacturer in Northern California when he received a call from his younger brother Neil, who owned a film production company. An upcoming shoot at Lucasfilm required teleprompting for people who were both very tall and very short! The event would certainly require a stage hand to adjust the teleprompting screen, which calls attention to their height differences and add delays.
Time was limited, but within a week Thom designed a working prototype, welded from scrap metal and constructed with spare electronics- except the film shoot was in two days! At 3am the next morning, the prototype was sprayed in black Krylon, and Neil picked it up for an 8am start at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. Thom held his breath…
At 11am, Thom received a call from Neil- it had worked perfectly, and Lucasfilm loved it! Even better, the director of special effects was impressed with the design (a true compliment, indeed!).
Soon after, Thom realized there was a real need for robotic teleprompters that could be remotely raised and lowered, matching a speaker’s line of sight with the audience. He had just turned 50, and after working for 20 years at the same company, it was time for a leap of faith. Tanner and his future business partner Steve McNerney began TeleStepper in mid-2016, selling their robotic teleprompters by word of mouth. A month later, Thom received the break he was looking for when staff members at the White House discovered their product at a convention and placed an order, helping launch the business. TeleStepper is now the official supplier of teleprompters to the White House and Apple, among other prestigious organizations!
For 2022, Thom’s lofty two-year goal is called “7 and 7”, which requires TeleSteppers to be installed on all 7 continents, and used by the world’s G7 leaders.
We are willing to accept a lower profit margin by choosing not to outsource overseas. Having our engineers close ensures the highest quality of product. In addition, our US-based customer service enables us to have a reliable support team that not only understands how to troubleshoot technology, but who can also relate with our customers’ needs.