Luis Diníz has a comprehensive background in the web-to-print industry, and despite the competitive situation, he has chosen to offer a new solution called Arando (Cranberry in Portuguese). The solution is, according to Luis Diníz, is a new and fresh approach, and yes, the solution seems to offer new approaches to web-to-print. In the ‘Over the Skype’ session, Luis Diníz explains that the driver for work is content creators. Imagine a museum that offers print of posters. By using Arando, the museum can easily integrate their current show to their print supplier and then order work directly from their existing shop with an easy integration – great approach. We expect to cover this when we again can travel.
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.
Good morning and welcome back to Over the Skype. This is Morten from Inkish TV. Today we are going to Portugal to meet Luis Diniz who is here. I can’t really tell so much about it yet because this is a new venture and I would like Luis to tell a little bit about that himself. So Luis, welcome to Over the Skype. Tell us a little bit who you are.
Hello Morten. Good morning and congratulations on your program. I was already your fan on Inkish TV and the Skype idea was brilliant.
There’s two kinds of people in the world, people that will be sitting and waiting for things to happen and people that will do it and you are the second. You do it. Congratulations on that.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much Luis. And I think that you are also one of the persons that are doing things instead of just sitting and waiting. Isn’t that the case?
Yeah. Yeah. That’s the case. I’ve done this all my life. I know. I’m restless.
I was studying hotel administration when I was [inaudible 00:01:25] a long time ago in 1989, I think, and they changed my course to computer sciences. Then I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Computer Sciences. Then I had the opportunity to start with resellers of phototypesetting machines. This was a long time ago. It was the film, the stripping and everything analog, everything manual.
So I witnessed the transition between analog and digital. I’m kind of a dinosaur.
I don’t think you’re full dinosaur, so don’t worry. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Right?
But I was lucky enough to witness the transformation from analog to digital and in 2000-2001 I saw that the industry was changing once again and the web was becoming more popular. I saw that as an opportunity for printing companies.
I just started to educate myself on the programming languages like HTML and CSS and learning… At that time was Flash-based website, so it’s very primitive, not anything that we have today.
In 2009, I started working or representing a company, a web-to-print company, which is Chilean, developers are [inaudible 00:02:56] in Latin America.
We were successful in helping businesses to sell online because at that time, printing companies, they rely on salespeople and physical contact.
Maybe 12 years ago, I was already getting ready to the situation that we have now helping companies to make online sales.
So just before you continue with this one, I would say that 12-13 years ago, that is still like almost in the beginning of where anybody started to talk about web-to-print.
Before we go into the current situation, how difficult was it at that time to pitch a printing company and make them understand the value of web-to-print?
Well, I have to tell you that it’s still difficult today.
Okay. So you wouldn’t say that it hasn’t changed for 12-13 years?
Yeah, some things change, some things never change. But what I feel is that it was difficult, but some people have the vision and when you have the vision, it’s much easier.
Some people have the vision but they don’t put the efforts on that vision and after a short period of time, they don’t see the results and they just give up. Okay.
There is a little bit of a blame on the vendors because they just want to kind of sell the product and they sell the product, collect the money, and that’s it, bye-bye. Printing companies, sometimes they need help. They need help. They need to understand the business of selling online.
When you talk about that help, I mean, one thing is of course the technical help, but is that also to understand that sometimes business models are completely different when you change how you sell? Is that also the need of help that you experienced?
Yes, of course. Yeah.
I’m sorry that I interrupted you, but does that mean that when you were talking to people at that time, you couldn’t lean up against Cimpress and Vistaprint and all the huge online printers. So when the market was approached at that time, everything was kind of new. There was also some Israeli company and a few other companies at that time.
Today, I don’t know, I think there’s maybe hundreds if not close to a thousand different web-to-print solutions. So the market has matured I guess, right?
Yes. It’s at least 100 suppliers, 100 suppliers.
Basically they’re doing the same developing a nice solution or a not so nice solution, but it works. They say, “Hey, Mr. Printer, Mr. Print Service Provider, this is what I have.” And the other one has the same and the other one has the same.
The printing companies, they just have to decide price wise, which one will attend them or will manage to help them on this fact. And it’s sometimes difficult because it’s a different business model as you told and maybe sometimes they don’t understand that this is a different business model. They want to take their old practice and this is where they fail.
They must just end what they’re doing or spark a new company and this is our new business. This is how we will prevail online. If they will stick to the old business, there’s a conflict.
Yeah. Yeah. A question that just came to mind, as you just said, that some printers need help for maybe the software installation and how it works and to get it up and running and some may need help for also the business model on how this operates.
One of the things that I have, I wouldn’t say been questioning, but speculating a little bit about for many years is the fact that most of the online printers to date or at least when they started, they seemed to be very much focused on price rather than service.
So do you think that that has been part of the difficulties for printers who don’t have the volume for gang print and who don’t have let’s say a huge marketing engine to utilize the volume-based businesses that you need. Do you see that as part of an issue in the industry that has been so price focused?
I don’t see that this is an issue. Okay. There’s also different products requests. If you have a premium product, you’re going to have a higher price. If you have a ganging like many solutions, you just wait to get as many business cards as he wants to fill up a sheet of paper and then you have no color control, you have no registration. This is going to be cheap.
And you have expense like [Moove 00:08:21] in the UK they do a great, great job to have codex for embellishment. This is going to be a premium product. It’s just a matter of a business model and knowing what to do. Knowing your target audience… Who do you want to sell to?
Would you say that both with your go-to mentality and the way that you have experienced the market over the past years, is that what makes you as a person a little bit… Is that what took you to make decision of founding your own company and develop something new?
Yes. I had this idea from a long time ago, but I didn’t want to do what everybody’s doing. I always wanted to try to differentiate myself. Of course, I have other businesses and on all of the business and some of them in the past, some of them were successful, some of them were failures, but I always tried to differentiate myself.
In the last two years, I joined Founder Institute which is a Silicon Valley, just for education. They help you ideate new businesses. They help startups. I was lucky enough to be in Lisbon, which is a tremendous startup, booming place in Europe. We have great talents and great startups.
We have Unicorns as well, in Portugal, like three or four companies that became Unicorn. So I was able to deal with these people to get new ideas in business.
This is a tip for any printing company. Forget about printing, forget about paper, forget about things, just go to the startup meetups. Talk to all the young guys, they know what they’re doing. So I try to hang out with the young people that as much as I can. I absorb a lot of new ideas and basically that’s it.
So I’m basically trying to do something new. It’s not another web-to-print solution. We call it e-commerce to print.
Okay. E-commerce to print. Okay.
E-commerce to print. I’m the first people to say that. That hashtag.
Okay, so congratulations to that one.
What is the name of your company? We have to talk about that now, right?
Yeah. Yeah. So the name of the company is Arando which is Portuguese for cranberry.
For cranberry. So we have gelato from Italian ice cream and we have Arando which is cranberry from Portugal. Okay. It becomes exciting, right?
Yeah. Yeah. It starts with an “A”.
Okay, that’s cool. What does your company exactly do and what is the value proposition that differs you from all those in the market in your opinion?
Yes. I told you, we are a new generation web-to-print, so we have all the functionality of a web-to-print, but we are also differentiated in that we help print service providers sell more online. So we don’t want to be a sole provider.
If printing company has already implemented a web-to-print solution, okay. Good luck. Good for you.
We are a different channel, and at this different channel, we are kind of a hub that will open windows for multiple marketplaces or websites like open source websites or Shopify. We want to be as open as possible. So we went to companies to sell on YouTube or on Instagram, on social media.
Arando is the hub that will convey all these orders and internally it will process and route it and talk to the MIS about the pre-press workflows and that’s the idea.
So we started an alpha phase, then we are kind of a slow face, more learning than doing. And then we started the beta phase now and that’s where we are now. We are on beta, the product is finished, it’s already operational and we welcome any printing company who would like to come on board.
So just to understand it 100%. I think that most people understand that web-to-print is basically, today it’s mostly like a website you enter. Sometimes there’s a mobile app to it, but it’s really like a front-end to how people buy.
So I think that most people understand how that works, at least in our industry. And to understand the differences that basically you enable all kinds of platforms to engage and interact with your system so people can use it.
Let’s say that you want to order photo products, you can do that from Instagram. And if you want to have… Is that how it works or didn’t I understand that?
That’s the idea. That’s the roadmap. Of course, we don’t… We are a startup so we will need to develop, but it’s on our roadmap to allow any printing company to sell on Instagram, to sell on Amazon, or to sell on Shopify.
Especially if they don’t have to handle all the marketing aspects of a website; for a printing company, it’s very difficult to understand how digital marketing works, how inbound marketing works. It’s very hard. They have to concentrate on the production industry that we’re talking about. So marketing is [inaudible 00:00:14:51].
So, when you say that you help your customers, does that also mean that you help them into different segments of the market and how to position their value propositions to the customers?
Can you give an example? Maybe it’s easier if you give me… Let’s say that I’m a printing company and I have no ideas about digital mindset. I have no idea about Instagram and Facebook and all the other social media. But I’m very good at printing, I’ll tell you.
Can you give me an example on how I could use your services?
Printing companies are very good at printing. This is what they do best and this is what they must do. But on the marketing side, they should rely on the people who know how to do online sales and who have good content. Okay?
So we kind of made a prototype with a German guy that lives in Lisbon and he is a great illustrator and he has great content, but he didn’t know that he could make money selling print.
Then I said, “Hey. Let’s do this test. Okay? I will create you a website with your great designs, your great illustrations online and let’s sell some prints.”
This is why I create value. Okay? I say, “Hey, Mr. Printer, can you print this?” Okay? “I’m going to sell it for you.” Okay?
This guy has great content. He doesn’t know that he can print on virtually any substrate nowadays. And the service provider, they don’t know how to make this integration. So Arando is basically there in the middle. We are helping drive more sales to printing companies.
So your customers still like the printers but you connect… Let’s say you gave an example with that artist. So you connect different kinds of uses with different kinds of printers who have invested in your solution? And this way around, you will create a value for both the buyer and for the producer. And basically, isn’t it a kind of like white labeling just on steroids or something like that?
What do you mean, white labeling?
I was meaning that.
Do you have an example?
Yeah, I was thinking when you said that this artist, because if he was an artist and he went to any printing company’s website, he could order the printer, then he could put it in his shop on his own website. But what you suggest is basically that he can use your front end to promote his arts.
When people order on his website, they produce it and then it’s sent to the customer directly from the printing company. Isn’t that it?
Yeah, but today it’s very hard to do it because they doesn’t have the tools, the right tools. That’s why we are providing the right tools, not only for artists…
No, no. I was not questioning that. I was just trying to understand if that was the business model. So basically, instead of having let’s say a business-to-business storefront for a customer, you basically can build as many storefronts as you want and these storefronts can be for businesses, for other printing companies, for artists, for everybody who needs print in some ways. Is that how it works?
Whatever. Or for example, museums. Museums have great assets, great content. They could be selling prints online.
If I visit a museum in the UK, London for example, and come back to Portugal, I would like to buy some things but I don’t have a lot of a space in my luggage. So I can buy just by online, through the website. For the museum itself, it’s just a matter of installing a plugin to connect it to this printing company.
Okay. That’s smart.
What we are starting to build with this is a new generation. Okay? So the idea is to connect the both ends of the market, not only B to C, but also B to B.
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense and I like the idea of museums that don’t… They maybe not even see themselves as a print customer, but they want to sell copies of whatever they have on the shelf floor. And instead of having it in stock, you basically connect their website with the printer they want to produce it with and then everything is handled by your system. Is that how it is?
That is how it works. We’re providing the tools to make it happen.
And so who are the customers? Is that the museum or is it the printer or who’s buying this and what is your business model on this one?
I see today, it’s virtually anyone who’s online.
Anyone who has good content who has maybe a website is a potential customer. I see the street artists for example. These artists, they have maybe millions of followers on Instagram. We have social influencers on YouTube with millions and millions of followers.
These people could be out in print. They are not selling print. They don’t know it’s possible to sell print.
This is where we go, “Hey, you just plug in, connect your website to a network of printers worldwide and you’re going to be making more money. People are going to be are going to be buying your stuff.” Printing companies will be happy to produce it. It’s what they do best.
Of course. Of course. So, the printers are connected to one central hub. So that means that, let’s say we take the example from the museum in London. So let’s say I travel back from London to Portugal and then I found out, I would like to have that poster.
So go into the museum, I click on it, will it then be printed by a printer that the museum picks or will it be part of the hub that you talk about so it can be printed in [crosstalk 00:21:22].
The museum picks. We are not managing that.
Oh. Okay. Okay.
It’s an open source.
Yeah. Okay. So, it’s still like the museum, they acquire the plug into the website because they want to offer this service to the customer?
It allows [inaudible 00:21:39]. Yeah.
And then they pick a printer who gets the files basically.
Yeah. That’s basically it.
Okay. That is great because basically what I hear is that you, instead of taking a printer’s perspective of pushing, let’s say commodity products to the market, you say that if you go to websites where you already have content that needs to be reproduced, then basically that is a connection into the printing company.
So let’s say I’m the printer, I’m a good printer as I told you before. Now I look at Denmark where I live and I go to a museum and say, “Hey, instead of stocking these products, you should have my plugin. Because if you have that plugin, people can buy these posters on your website and then I print them on demand. You will get the revenue. I get my commission and that’s it.”
Yeah. Basically, that’s it.
Everybody gets happy.
I like it. I like it. I think that is… I don’t think I’ve heard about that before. So that is quite nice.
And how difficult is it? Let’s say that I’m the street artist or maybe even, let’s say that I’m a self-publisher and I want to sell my books, but I don’t want to have inventory. I guess that solution can be used, too.
So how difficult is it to install that plugin and to get that connected with your service provider?
Taking the principle that the content producer, if you’re an artist or if you’re a museum, you already understand or you have a team that understands how to put it online, how to make it simple where it’s specified.
Maybe you’re already selling some stuff through WooCommerce. So it’s just a matter of another plugin… You just install another plugin. And then you have access to a network marketing company. And then you choose the ones that you want to work with, you put in your margins and that’s it. You’re happy. You just start selling.
When I look at it from that business model, I think that is brilliant.
You’re welcome. The question I’m still wondering a little bit about is you aim to go and sell it to the printing companies. So it’s the printing companies that go and sell it or give it to the content creators, right?
Yes. Yeah. Everything starts with the printing company.
This is the core engine of our solution.
We’re developing solutions for the printing company. “Mr. Printing Company, this is our solution. You don’t have to change it. You keep your existing structure, but you can add this.”
“And when you add this, you will be opening to a new world.”
Yep, yep. I get it. So basically, this is a new sales channel opportunity for a printer because he can have his regular web-to-print solution that just sells business cards and letterheads and all that.
But this one, he can go and talk to all the people that he knows in his network about creating content that can be delivered either on demand or with a fulfillment from his site. So basically, this is a new channel of how to engage with a customer who owns content basically.
Yeah. That’s what we’re trying to create. New channels, new options.
And how far are you now? You said that you were [inaudible 00:25:18]. Is that something that we can start to buy soon?
We have [inaudible 00:25:20] customers that are already using the platform because I have 25 years of experience and the print business, I know what it takes. I know what, what is needed. I know the integration with MIS. I know JDF is a very important protocol in this industry and I have worked with pre-press solutions, so we understand about workflows and everything.
That’s why the core of our solution is the printing company. We were first trying to solve this problem and then the easy part is…
Everybody today, every influencer, small, medium or large, they have great audiences, have great companies. They don’t know it’s possible to make money with print and this is where we come from. This is what we want.
That’s cool. To be honest also, if you look at your history with [Pesero 00:26:22] and [Aliant 00:26:23], I mean that doesn’t even compete because as a total different market space, isn’t it?
It always competes. Everybody’s competing against each other because we can have a BUB website, a very simple solution that the printing company wants to handle themselves. “Oh, I want to handle myself.” Or, “I have some people that want to take care of my customers.” So it’s possible open source solutions today like e-commerce that they go to. And [inaudible 00:26:55], the next step is Shopify, and also allow them to sell on Shopify.
So it’s just a matter of choosing where to go. “I want to go with the existing vendor and I want to be with these guys to learn their systems or do I want and go with something worldwide or eCommerce leader like WooCommerce. So it’s always competing, but we go beyond.
Yeah. You seem to want to go-
We want to go beyond. We don’t want to be the web-to-print provider; we want to be the e-commerce provider. We want to be the next generation in the market.
Yeah. I think that when I spoke to you, I think maybe we were only chatting on LinkedIn or something like that maybe a half year ago. I said you were crazy because there’s so much competition in the market.
I said it’s how you handle the competitors. I said to my staff and my partner, I don’t want to be in the same space. If I’m developing a new web-to-print solution, I’m just not doing it. So if it is a challenge, a new challenge, a new market… Let’s create our own market. Let’s create this new segment and that’s it. I’m in. It’s challenging? I’m in. If it’s easy, I’m out.
Luis, I think it’s been great to get an understanding of what it is you’re doing. As far as I understand from you, it’s very soon going live. So you have live customers right now, and I hope they are doing positive things with the software.
So I want to thank you very much for being here on Inkish all with Skype, and I wish you all the best in the future. I’m sure we will hear more from you soon, right?
Yeah, that’s great. But thank you very much. It was a pleasure to talk to you.
Okay. Thank you.