Everyone thinks printers are no longer needed, but that's a big collective lie

By 09 Feb 2019

When Faheem Agboatwala introduced Henrik Müller-Hansen, the CEO and founder of Gelato before his PS 19 presentation at the Tata Theatre, it was quite impressive. The highlights are: Henrik Müller-Hansen and his team launched Optimalprint in 2007. As Optimalprint grew so did the idea on how to improve the profitability and efficiency within the print industry. This led to the launch of Gelato in August 2012.

Earlier, Henrik Müller-Hansen worked at Tele2, a telco challenging the traditional industry. He held positions like CEO-assistant and head of the Business Customer Area in Sweden. From 2003 to 2006, he was CEO of Tele2 Norway, growing the company from 1.5 billion NOK to 3.2 billion NOK. There is academic rigour behind the rough-tough business life. Be it: an MSc E; Major in Managerial Economics from Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden. Plus there is respect for two of Norway's literary legends, Henrik Ibsen and Jon Fosse.

Henrik Müller-Hansen has a chat with PrintWeek India about Gelato's plans for India.

Henrik Müller-Hansen, CEO and founder, Gelato, at the 13th edition of Print Summit

What do you mean by complete?
By complete what we mean is that the solution provides the following for global brands: All digital assets in one place, with files that can be edited, shared, and printed - enhancing brand control; Local printing, shipping, and billing in 29 countries and shipping to over 100 countries; translation services available on-platform; data security of the highest standards, per GDPR guidelines; accessible across any device (mobile and desktop)

Gelato will work only for international super brands?
In addition to global brands using Gelato to print locally in India, we would love for Indian companies to leverage what we have built – especially companies with global presence.

What sort of audit processes will Indian print companies require in order to partner with Gelato?
Potential print houses whom we would like to partner with must run a thoroughly professional operation also covering critical areas such as employee safety and integrity, data and IP protection, and sustainability practices. It is very important for global brands that their printed material is managed in a sustainable way.

How does the system work?
We partner with Ernst & Young to conduct an audit of shortlisted print partners. Once selected, these partners will be expected to follow a comprehensive code of conduct during the tenure of our partnership.

And after the audit process ..
In the long term, such print houses set a benchmark for manufacturing – best practices that can be adopted around the world.

What sort of business plan does Gelato draw up when it looks at a new country?
Entry into a new country and the structure is determined by 1) the support required by a set of customers and 2) latent potential within the country itself.

What is your PEST (political, economic, social and technological) and challenges for India?
Some countries have engineering talent and operationally inclined people to build a team with a different focus and expectation while other markets may merit a full sales and business development team, in addition to operations support.

The highs in India which resonate with the Gelato vision?
Leading themes in India, such as  ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ resonate very well with us – 1) we are pushing global companies to print in India rather than ship from locations thousands of kilometres away and 2) we want to integrate more print houses into our cloud platform which will also change the way in which they manage order workflows and more. This brings value for the businesses in India and for global companies with subsidiaries in India.

Describe your Indian ops and team size - and team leaders?
Currently, we have a fairly small team in India, which we plan to grow as Gelato expands across the world. The team in India is an integral part of our global team of 130 members, providing support services such as implementation and design, for customers around the world. 

During your talk at BMPA's Print Summit conference, you mentioned how one can scale globally by applying sharing economy principles. How so?
Innovation across industries is powered by technology. An idea is germinated based primarily on a need followed by a key insight. This same idea then thrives and scales as rapidly as its supporting infrastructure and market allow it to. Supply, demand, time and resources are all influencing factors that determine the inflection point at which innovation has to happen.

Focus on the customer
Yes, and in the print industry – customer needs are evolving to strategically target and personalise print communication, and more efficiently utilise resources which has resulted in smaller batches of print orders, placed on demand, from a mobile phone, processed faster and delivered locally, thousands of kilometres away from headquarters, on another continent. The infrastructure to deliver such an experience is what Gelato has built and is being successfully used in 100 countries today.

You have been speaking in Mumbai frequently from fireside chats to your Mumbai talk in 2017, you spoke about how technology is disrupting industries.
The global print industry is facing some challenges. The demand is shifting from large print runs into smaller on-demand print runs with variable content. With the Gelato platform and solution, we are ushering new thinking, a new methodology of operating and a new model with a global on-demand solution with just in time production. We have more than 1400 suppliers and technologies integrated into our platform – and the number keeps growing.

The question is: is the model essentially changing?
Much of this is driven by end customers´ requests to operate in a more sustainable way.

What is the amount spent on print by businesses, particularly big brands?
The print industry today is worth USD 870 bn – three times larger than software and 60 times bigger than music! Digital printing itself grew from USD 80 bn in 2008 to USD $180bn in 2018. Year on year, growth in the digital printing industry is more than the overall size of online music.

Has it grown? Which product verticals from brochures to posters, etc are you seeing any traction?
Fascinating to see that the 100 largest print buyers in the US market spend USD 53 bn on print alone in one year! Offset print production is still the largest part of the market, although it is slowly decreasing. On the other side, digital printing is one of the fastest growing industries – across all industries!

"The elements that have come together include right timing, a clear need, technology infrastructure in the form of cloud computing, mobile apps to provide access anytime anywhere, and the availability of a huge supply of print capacity. The user experience I strongly believe will simply get better."


Gelato is a disruptor in the e-commerce space. Based on your experiences in other countries, are there disruptors in the commercial space, wide-format, packaging – and paper mills etc?
I have come across innovation in the packaging space, through an on-demand and networked distribution model in other developed markets. 

How do we make print more attractive, so that it’s easier to recruit talent, especially for new roles?
As traditional print houses evolve their business models, embrace technology, adopt sustainability practices as a competitive advantage, and apply design thinking to their products and processes, such companies will attract talented millennials. Talent nowadays want to be part of something bigger. The movement towards sustainable and green production makes Gelato attractive to talented people from schools like Harvard, INSEAD, and from great companies like Salesforce, Amazon, McKinsey and many more.

Final thoughts ...
As I have said before, the print industry is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing industries on the planet. 

How Gelato reduces print’s transportation needs by 90%

According to Henrik Müller-Hansen, the transport sector represents more than 20% of all carbon emissions globally. When Gelato is cooperating with other companies, for example, Hydro Extruded Solutions, which has implemented the software in their value chain, they communicate a common ambition.

Gelato built software that connects to printers, all over the world. For example, Lufthansa Cargo can use the Gelato global network when they roll out a new international campaign. That way, they can print and distribute locally. It is about reducing the overall print volume by 50% and the need for transportation by 90% on a two-year perspective.



ProPak India 2021 NEW!

Sep 30 - 02 Oct 2021
Bombay Exhibition Center, Mumb...

Latest Poll

Everyone says be sustainable and go green, what does it really mean? One simple step you have undertaken on your shop floor