Print Summit 2019: How to disrupt and succeed

Print Summit 2019 was underway with a riveting talk by Henrik Müller-Hansen, CEO and founder, Gelato about disruption in the print industry and what it looks like in the future.

24 Jan 2019 | By Sujith Ail

Henrik Müller-Hansen, CEO and founder, Gelato

In 2017, Gelato had a turnover of USD 41 million without owning a single printing machine. Henrik Müller-Hansen said, “This transition was much more complex than you can imagine. Everything from setting up legal entities in countries as China, Brazil, India, to rebuilding the platform to cater for local data storage in China and Russia through partnerships with companies, such as Aliyun, the Alibaba cloud, preparing for GDRP, and most importantly, building a completely new management team and organisational structure."

The model looks like a typical W2P one. But the company, which describes itself as the AirBnB of print since it owns no presses, has tweaked the modus operandi. Gelato links buyers wanting print to those able to supply it. These are companies with a HP Indigo technology to enable Gelato to offer a consistent experience regardless of where a job is printed. Its customers are companies with a network of sites which can be served though local printers rather than from a single supplier delivering print that then needs to be distributed around the globe.

Henrik Müller-Hansen said, “We wanted to function as an Airbnb for printing, where we connect buyer with printer. Us, on our behalf we will never own any printing machines, we only want to own the customer relation."

But it was not a minor task, trying to connect the world total of 4,00,000 printers, but there is after all an obvious potential regarding Gelato’s platform.

Müller-Hansen spoke about disruptive changes in the print industry. Print industry remains one of the largest industries in the world and is witnessing disruptive technological changes which will have a major impact on the future of this industry. Digital printing as a technology has matured and is now cost competitive at much higher volumes, consumption patterns of print are changing the world over with a secular trend towards lower volumes and higher variety. On top of all this cloud technologies and software is having a huge impact on the overall print value chain, enabling global organisations to decentralise printing while maintaining brand control and consistency.

Henrik Müller-Hansen explained how Gelato built a software that connects to printers. He said, “We do not own, all over the world. For example, Lufthansa Cargo can use our 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 of transportation by 90% on a two-year perspective."

Four Henrik Müller-Hansen tips

Creating a successful international company from the ground up does not come without some lessons learned. Here are four tips from Henrik Müller-Hansen for those who want to go global:

1. You must be passionate about your customers

You exist because there is a customer at the other end who will benefit from what you deliver, and will live a better and more efficient life because of your existence.

2. Create revenue

Send your products out into the world and to the customers. It is as they say, perfect is the enemy of good.

3. Think long-term

People will misunderstand you but you must have stamina and believe in what you create. You may fail, but you have a passion and a belief in what you are building and the energy needed to create it.

4. Think big

If you do not dream of something, you cannot build it.