02 August 2018 Digital Printing Technologies

Gelato aims to be the AirBnB of the print industry

Distributed online print business Gelato has raised $20 million to fund new growth, making it Norway’s most successful tech start up.

Distributed online print business Gelato has raised $20 million to fund new growth, making it Norway’s most successful tech start up.

The company is describing itself as the AirBnB of print as it owns no presses, but links buyers wanting print to those able to supply it. These are companies with 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.

The impact of working with Gelato has been a reduction in waste, lower costs and much lower environmental impact. Hexagon Europe is a typical customer. “Nine months after activating Gelato in Hexagon Europe we saw total cost of printing reduced by a third. Gelato will now be rolled out across our entire operation worldwide.

“Printing locally gives us faster delivery and we end up ordering less but more personalised print. Our ambition is to reduce print volumes by 50% and transportation distances by 90%,” says Stephen Graham, vice president marketing for the manufacturing intelligence division of Hexagon.

The money will be used to extend the network of suppliers, particularly in the Middle East, South America and Asia. Currently the company has print suppliers in 73 countries, six of whom are in the UK, and wants to take this to representation in 100 countries.

It began with HP Indigo users only, but as demand for print has grown beyond the economic capabilities of the digital press, Gelato has started to add litho presses. To date these have all been Impress Control equipped Heidelberg Speedmasters, but this is not an exclusive arrangement. COO Fredrik Andersson, says: “The offset presses that we have added so far are Heidelberg. But we’re also having dialogue with other potential partners.

“The way we manage colour consistency with offset machines is the same as digital machines: by controlling the deviation from the intended colour profile. We are working with the newer offset presses which have inline spectrophotometers that measure each sheet. Every sheet has a colour bar, and the press auto calibrates to keep the colour within tolerance.”

Initially the companies running the litho machines are already approved members of the Gelato network, having demonstrated their ability to produce consistent colour using the Indigo presses.

Henrik Müller-Hansen, CEO and founder of Gelato, says: “Three years ago, we identified a growth opportunity many times larger than the consumer market. We have since invested $30m in building the most environmentally friendly print solution for global companies. Over the three years, we have moved from local production in 13 to 25 countries including the Brics.”

Each print member must demonstrate consistent quality through regular calibration of its presses and monitoring of feedback from customers, a feature that is frequently used in the likes of AirBnB and Uber. The B2B market the company believes will be a much larger opportunity than B2C online print purchasing. It secured 60 new customers in 2017, convinced that reducing print volumes and shipment costs makes sense through distributing print to local production rather than central print and distribution.

“Gelato aims to disrupt this model by providing customers with a portal through which they can manage these print jobs centrally, but print and distribute locally. We don’t do any printing ourselves – we’re a facilitator – but at the same time we’re already saving our customers millions in efficiencies and making a major contribution to their own need to reduce overall carbon footprint,” says Müller-Hansen.

“When companies are printing their sustainability report in one country only to fly it out to 80 other countries, something has to change. By not owning any print machines and cooperating instead with local partners, we bring printing much closer to demand. We lower costs and carbon emissions while strengthening brand control.”

And it has added to the print service through a partnership with Xplanation, a translation business. This will enhance the brand management aspect of working with Gelato, offering growing customers not only the ability to print for new countries, but to support that print with accurate translations, particularly in the emerging economies. In return Xplanation’s customers will be linked to the Gelato print management system.

It is the sort of alliance that could not have been contemplated a few years ago, which as the technology has evolved, seems a hand in glove fit.

Gareth Ward

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Gelato describes itself as the AirBnB of print as it owns no presses, but links buyers wanting print to those able to supply it. These are companies with HP Indigo technology which enables Gelato to offer a consistent experience regardless of where a job is printed.

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Henrik Müller-Hansen, CEO and founder of Gelato, states that the company has invested $30m in building the most environmentally friendly print solution for global companies. "Over three years, we have moved from local production in 13 to 25 countries including the Brics,” he says.

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