Almost exactly a year ago we met ION Print and Kairit Parker for the first time. It was literally days before version 1 of ION Prints print broker platform was released. The software is made to help print brokers utilize printers, and instead of asking printers for quotes, ION Print automatically calculate the prices based on a large number of parameters. ION Print is out of Estonia, and for those who don’t know, Estonia is one of the most developed IT-nations in the world. Now a year later, ION Print has been launched, and customers are using the platform daily. Listen and learn!
As with all our ‘Over the Skype’ interviews, quality is limited to bandwidth, web-cams, and ability to literally LIVE mix the conversations. However, it works, and with Over the Skype, we will bring you more than 20 exciting people, and angles on the industry as it is right now.
This is Morten from INKISH.TV, and in this series of films that we’re doing from home due to the coronavirus, it’s my pleasure to welcome Kairit Parker from iOnPrint in Estonia.
Welcome Kairit, how are you today? Are you healthy and all good?
Ah, thank you. Yes, I’m healthy and as good as it’s possible in today’s situations, so yes.
And how is the Corona situation in Estonia?
Well, I think it’s more or less the same situation as everywhere. Estonia is so small, so, even the smallest number is too big for Coronavirus here. So I think the situation with government and everything is similar as in all Europe. Yes, of course, Italy and Spain is a bit more difficult situation, and let’s hope Estonia doesn’t come to that point, but we’ll see.
Yes, that’s right. But for now, we don’t want to talk about more Corona thing. Because the situation is that we can’t change anything, so we stay home, take care of our kids, and do as much business as we can, right?
Kairit, the last time I met you that was in Stockholm and I think it was like days or weeks before you released your software. Can you just bring me up to speed? What is it your software does?
Yes, we met, it was approximately a year ago, I think, and we were just to launch iOnPrint instant quotation platform.
This is the platform that will give instant print quotes for print brokers. And yes, we launched it last year in may. It was like this initial test platform that we launched by that time, but today we [inaudible 00:02:23] that we have working platform with lots of functionalities, and we have also users behind that platform. So we are very happy about the situation today.
I was just about to ask, because always when you talk to software companies, they always say that; “okay we have a lot of functions and features”, but you mentioned yourself that you also got customers now. So, what kind of customers are buying your solution?
As I mentioned, this is a professional tool that is targeted for print brokers, so we can call it a bit like a niche product.
But it’s definitely that target group that needs this kind of a solution very much. Today, we can’t say we have a lot of clients attached to the system yet, but we have touched mainly Baltic printers, and also they… Because we have Baltic printers, the main brokers are also today Baltic print brokers.
But we see the growing trend, the growing interest from Scandinavia, and all Europe actually.
That’s nice, I guess, right?
But of course, it takes time to build this platform because with iOnPrint we don’t see it like online, we are not online printers. So, what we are offering is actually a working tool for print brokers and for printers to be able to connect with each other.
From one hand, yes, we can offer already registered vendors in the system. But actually the system, the platform works the best when every broker adds also their own vendors to the system.
Because we see that, yes, it’s interesting to go price seeking to see what are their countries offering, what is the price for different print products.
But we also see from experience from local brokers that you still have at least 50 percentage of the projects you are doing, you’re using your own vendors that you have been used to work with. You know the quality, you know-
I was just about to say that it maybe emphasizes that the price is maybe not always the most important thing. Sometimes it’s relationships, and quality, and that you know each other, that is important things in that project, right?
Yes, exactly. And maybe even in today’s situation, even draws attention to this because we see that local printers are in a better position today, because we can’t [inaudible 00:05:51] about that, this logistic part situation.
A question. When you talk about the printers and the print brokers, the print brokers are obviously the buyers and the printers are obviously the sellers, who are paying for it? Is it both the printers and the brokers? Or is it… Who paying for it?
The solution is totally free to join for printers.
But yes, print brokers are the ones who need to pay monthly fee for using this platform. But the good thing, as I just explained, it’s very important to add this to the system, your own partners.
So we are definitely offering print brokers this onboarding time, we are not saying that; “Come join iOnPrint, start paying from the first day, even if you don’t have your selection of vendors”.
So, we have usually this onboarding time, it depends actually, how active this client is, how easy it is to get printers to the system and so on.
From one month, it can be two, three months.
But it usually takes like two months time to test the pricing. You have the normal amount of vendors and so on.
Just to make sure that everybody understands this, as far as I remember from when we met in Stockholm, when a printing company on boards iOnPrint, the system is able to calculate the prices based on participating printing companies cost structure.
So that means that if a printer on boards iOnPrint, you will be able to deliver instant quotes without actually spending a lot of time and resources within the printing company, is that correctly understood?
Exactly, this is the situation. So yes, it needs time to fill the data from print house side, but after that, it’s only small changes when print house wants to make some price changes depending on the seasonality or something like that.
And I think I would like to talk to you about; maybe not so many people know, but Estonia is actually one of the countries in the world that has the most developed IT infrastructure. I know that a considerable part of your IT development in Estonia is also for developing platforms for the gaming industry, for the banking industry, and I think that you, for a long time, had the votings electronically and stuff like that. So the infrastructure of IT in Estonia is really on a high level. Is that something that you took advantage of when you were starting up this exciting project?
I think it’s more or less pushed us to the point that we understood that everybody [inaudible 00:09:21] is automated around us. So this small part seems so logical to be automated also. So it’s definitely the Estonian digital society that is pushing us over this kind of solutions, and it’s good to see, day by day, that printing industries are starting to understand the need also, because in Estonia printing industry’s also a bit afraid of this kind of steps, but also it’s not fright, but there is also a lot of solutions offered to printing industry. And I think one of the difficulties is that if every day, some solution comes to your door, as a print house, so, it takes a lot of time.
It would be perfect to join with everything, [inaudible 00:10:32] have to choose.
Yeah. And since the Baltic countries joined the European union, which is like, is it 10, 15 years ago? You started to be members of the European union? You have also been… The printing industry, in all the three Baltic countries, have been very supported by the European union and printing companies could get a really good subsidization for printing machines, etcera. But I saw on your website when I was asking you to join me for this interview, that you have also got some funding for the development of iOnPrint. Was that a difficult process to get the funding or to get through the European bureaucracy? Or how was that for you?
Well, the bureaucracy is always a bit difficult, but we managed it quite well, because the idea was worth the support. So yes, we got funding from the beginning to the idea about iOnPrint.
So yes. The start is supported by EU and [inaudible 00:11:49] enterprise.
Hmm. So that, I guess from a start-up perspective, must be so nice to… I mean, one thing is the money, but it’s also that when you have pitched the idea, somebody immediately saw the value of what you’re proposing, and when somebody is valuing what you’re proposing, I take that it also gives you strength in that you are on the right track developing something that has a high value, right?
Absolutely. Yeah. Sometimes you are so much into your field, or the area you’re working, so every small idea seems to be, but if you can really explain it to the side that has nothing to do with printing or print industry, and they can really see the idea and the value behind the solution, it of course gives another perspective, and also they [inaudible 00:12:53] enterprise, there is the organization that actually maybe helped us to find the best direction to move on. So it’s not only this financial support, but [inaudible 00:13:06] ideological.
Okay. That’s great. And I guess as a software company you have a roadmap of ideas for future development of iOnPrint, but are you also confident in the future from a business perspective? Do you think it would be easy to… Nothing is easy, but do you think it will be a product that you can easily roll out at least in Europe and maybe even the world? Or is it… Does it have a limited market in your opinion?
As I said, as this product is mainly for print brokers, it definitely has a limited target group. But…
There’s so many print brokers out there. You can’t imagine.
Yes. Today we are not afraid of this market limit. And we really see the interest and the need for this kind of solution.
What is very positive for us is actually we have now also connected to quite many online printers who actually see also the need for this kind of solution, so maybe it’s not only brokers we are able to cooperate, but also online printers that could use this instant pricing for their professional clients.
Kairit, time flies by. It was really nice talking to you, I wish you all the best and I think it’s very exciting to see where your company will develop in the future, so once again, thank you very much for taking time to be on this little internet edition of INKISH. Thank you very much and all the best.
Thank you. And you’re welcome to join iOnPrint webinar, actually, on Thursday on ninth of a April. It will give a short overview, what is iOnPrint and how to use it.
And it is good that you mentioned it, because I was actually planning to mention it, but now you did it yourself. So I hereby encourage everybody to sign up for the webinar so you can see what iOnPrint is all about. Thank you everybody.