The company’s credo is simplifying online print ordering procedures! Helloprint is continually enhancing its platform in the right places in line with eCommerce principles and is growing exponentially year by year.
Helloprint does things like other print marketers that have specialized in brokering digital print jobs – but somehow in a special kind of way. Since the launch of its platform at the end of 2013 the Rotterdam-based company has more than doubled the number of its print service providers each year. In 2016 the figure was already more than 160 and rising sharply. A 90% increase in sales from 2015 to 2016 to 27 million Euros speaks volumes. In March 2017 Bregal Unternehmerkapital and Project A (the same investors that have already acquired a majority shareholding in Onlineprinters, which I have reported on here) then took stakes in Europe’s fastest growing print platform, which has boosted growth at this recent start-up even more. In line with the “Making ordering print easier. For everyone, everywhere” motto Helloprint’s success story has been and will be extended in the current year to Italy and Germany, while the company is already in business in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK and Spain.
Despite his young age, Hans Scheffer brings plenty of experience to the Helloprint party in his role as CEO. And anybody who listened to his presentation at the Online Print Symposium 2017 knows what kind of a get-up-and-go example he sets his colleagues. After all, he has been in the online print business for 16 years now and prior to Helloprint set up two successful start-ups. Helloprint has only been on the market since the end of 2013 and has grown rapidly since the launch of the platform, very rapidly. I checked up with this new IOP member in more detail just what motivated Hans Scheffer, following the sale of the online print platforms he established in 2003 and 2008, to set up a new online print business and what he has in mind with Helloprint.
Bernd Zipper: What is it that motivated you to build up the next platform after selling Flyerzone and Drukland to Printing.com in 2010?
Hans Scheffer: After selling Flyerzone and Drukland to Printing.com in 2010 and leaving the company in 2012, we were searching for a new market to build our new company. Almost instantly, we came back to the print market, because we believed that the online print market was still at a very embryonic stage: A mainly offline market, bigger than automotive, highly fragmented and mainly dominated by producing companies with vertical integrated supply chains who were focusing on the so called “middle man “. We believed that we could make a difference in that market and achieve rapid growth by defining a strategy that was solely focusing on the principles of e-commerce instead of print.
Bernd Zipper: Focussing on customers instead of products – what´s the difference? Is focusing on products a problem in the printing industry? And do you think that online print has more chances than offline print to reach customers?
Hans Scheffer: Our vision is centralized around the concept that ordering print for end consumers is still very complicated. As a small or midsized business, it’s almost impossible to order a printed product or promotional product yourself. You always need a “middle man“ to take care of the design, the print and the whole complex process. We focus solely on that customer and facilitate him or her with an interface that makes ordering print easier, in every possible way. For us, the printed product is just a commodity and does not do a difference: We believe that the consumer is less interested in the product and is more interested in the purpose of the product: Promotion, identity.
Bernd Zipper: How do you see the development in the online printing industry in Europe in 2017 and beyond?
Hans Scheffer: What we see is that more and more end consumers are finding their way to the online world. In print, that’s still very complicated. It is our vision that, eventually, the end user and consumer will be able to arrange everything related to print, promo and identity themselves online, without using the traditional middle man. Therefore, we expect the online print industry to develop organically from off- to online.
Bernd Zipper: In your presentation at the Online Print Symposium you said that Helloprint intends to build the most scalable European print platform – do you want to go beyond the European borders?
Hans Scheffer: To reach focus, we’ve decided to build our network first in Europe. The evolution of the industry is going the fastest in this particular market. We have strong ambitions and expansion to other parts of the world will be part of the discussion.
“Concentrating on core skills and investing in hungry, young human resources: online print is always lucrative – if you take the right approach!” – Bernd Zipper
Bernd Zipper: Helloprint wants to find local producers in European countries such as Italy, France, Spain and Germany. Do you expect that your network can double its size by internationalizing production sites?
Hans Scheffer: We have no limits in the way we build our platform. We believe that the Helloprint platform can gain significant opportunities for producers in the European landscape. That is not only the case for producers in our core segment, but as well for producers who are willing to sell certain niche products to a large audience. On our roadmap, the extension of the product portfolio will be one of central strategies. It has been anticipated that the number of producers will grow significantly over the next years.
Bernd Zipper: How else do you want to achieve the goal of 100 million Euros revenue before 2019?
Hans Scheffer: We believe that by focusing on the online experience and by expanding our model the multiple countries, we can reach our goals.
Bernd Zipper: In the IOP, various, partly competing members of the online print environment meet. Why did you decide that your company should also be a member of this initiative?
Hans Scheffer: We believe that our fast changing market, who is bigger than automotive, benefits from strong partnerships throughout the whole industry. By working together and sharing ideas, our markets will open up faster. We believe that there is a share for everyone in that market.
My take: so it works even if you don’t have your own printing presses. Helloprint is growing so fast because it focuses on an important eCommerce principle: ordering must be easy, even for non-experts. Added to this is the fact that the decision-makers at Helloprint are not afraid of employing really young people, who may not know much about printing but are much more up to speed with digital processes. Hans Scheffer’s visions of growth have firm foundations, given the additional investment boosts in 2017 and the relentless expansion of the Helloprint team in Rotterdam und Valencia. I am convinced that the online print industry will be hearing a lot more of Helloprint as a print product broker.