During this “OVER THE SKYPE” interview, Rafael Mari, one of the co-founders of Realisaprint, tells us about the beginnings of this online printing company, which today competes with the main players in the market. He tells us about the particularity of his company, the origin of its success, its family spirit. He also reveals to us how confinement has strengthened the ties and team spirit of the members of this family to meet the new expectations of customers and to continue despite the current context the ambitious development of this very beautiful “niçoise” online printing company. An interview that makes you feel good, so don’t hesitate to watch this video.
Durant cet entretien « OVER THE SKYPE », Rafael Mari, l’un des cofondateurs de Realisaprint, nous raconte les débuts de cette imprimerie en ligne qui rivalise aujourd’hui avec les principaux acteurs du marché. Il nous raconte la particularité de cette entreprise, l’origine de son succès, son esprit de famille. Il nous révèle aussi comment le confinement à renforcer les liens et l’esprit d’équipe des membres de cette famille pour répondre aux nouvelles attentes des clients et poursuivre malgré le contexte actuel le développement ambitieux de cette très belle imprimerie en ligne niçoise…
Un entretien qui fait du bien au moral, alors n’hésitez pas à visionner cette vidéo.
Hello, Rafael Mari.
Thank you again for accepting my invitation.
Could you Rafael say a few words?
First about you and your printing company Realisaprint.
Of course, my name is Rafael Marie.
I’m the co-founder of Realisaprint.com.
Actually, we have a specialized online store for resellers.
We created the framework 12 years ago.
The company has a turnover of approximately 2 million euros.
What makes us special is that not only are we gonna
internalise production to a large extent and then we’ll be working only with the dealer,
or com agencies, printers, graphic designers, etc.
The goal is really to have a production unit to control the production of the product.
And then letting our clients do all their creative work and then just simply developing
a real partnership together.
There you go.
Originally, you were a traditional printing company?
Not at all.
Actually, I knew my partner when we were in school.
For the record, we’ve known each other a long time.
We’ve known each other since the second grade when we were 15.
So this is a friendship altogether.
And we did a master’s degree in Industrial Development Management.
So our knowledge, basically, is really the industrial engineering,
production, people and machine management.
And then, coincidentally, in fact, we met the world
of the printing industry and by placing an order on the Internet,
we finally realized that the prices were very low compared to
to a traditional printer who was in our neighborhood.
We finally figured there was something to play for.
So eventually, we went into detail.
We learned the concept of amalgamation, offset printing,
we didn’t know any of that at all.
And so, obviously, we said we’re going to create a website, to start with, knowing that basically.We don’t do any of that.
Since we had founded, after graduation a management consulting firm, specifically in production.
Oh, all right.
It’s pure luck, really.
We finally said to ourselves, maybe it will be easier in the end, maybe put our knowledge into a company
where there’s production and therefore just watch.
So we got into the business of creating a website.
Inevitably, it was only subcontracting for several years.
Since we didn’t have the funds that we’ d put a capital of 20 computers each.
Finally, we rented a small room.
I rented another 12 square meters for 216 euros.
He got into it. Here we go.
And then, as time went on, we developed.
And three years later, we set up my first production unit which is 150 square meters in size.
Two years later, we’re up to 300.
And here we go.
Now, after ten years and seven years of production, we’ve got 4,000 square feet of space.
And in three months, we’ll have 8,000 because we’re expanding our production unit.
We’re going to have even more abilities.
Well, that’ s pretty much the story.
It’s pretty amazing after all, and maybe that’s what gives us a slightly different perspective, too
about the printing business.
I think that’s probably our secret, I guess, after all.
You have a different look.
And production management.
We’ll talk about it later.
Were you able to implement what you’ve been doing that you’ re working to make a difference.
Exactly, if we go back a little bit, what were the main obstacles you encountered
in order to enter this very market?
So, I guess that we were in an area that was still industrial,
but few printers were there, after all.
The final knowledge of the market was technical.
It’s quite complex, actually, because it’s true that, few people know offset.
But when you start hearing the technique Pantone colours, decals, etc.
It’s true that despite the fact that we do trade shows and so on, we were talking to someone.
We were told that we’re buying time.
I guess luckily we didn’t understand much after all.
So it was more the technical side of the printing world.
Rather than the web part.
What’s more, suddenly it’ s said we arrived in 2008.
There was still a fairly easy market to win online.
So, it’s true that it’s more of a print aspect, knowing that in addition, our range is very wide.
So, we were going to sell both flyers and print digitally or offset.
Both large format and roll up, with some sublimation as well.
We do banner printing, for example.
We also do object sublimation, such as the core of the floor mat.
So you really had to have a real knowledge of all printing techniques.
So, I think that was ultimately the most complex for us.
All right. All right, all right.
To translate rapacity?
And there were some definite ideas, too.
When talking to an offset printer.
well, big is going to tell us the digital, it’s not up to scratch, poorer quality, etc.
So it’s up to us to finally get to the bottom of analyzing all that data and to think
what the client is finally waiting for.
When he wants to?
The quality is not good compared to digital and the final customer, which is his level of quality.
This is where the client’s needs must finally be met, and not have an expert opinion.
So today, how would you define the French market?
The competitive intensity.
It’ s strong, especially at the French level there isn’t a lot of it after all,
very little production and selling on the web.
It is rather international platforms that are our competitors.
We’re down to two or three freelancers, so finally, we’re under a lot of pressure from the big brands.
The idea of us is to stand out for our agility.
We’re 71 now in a structure.
The objective is to say to ourselves, in relation to these large groups, why should a customer come to us?
Number one is agility.
There’s a problem with an order, the customer moves up faster, etc.
The idea is to have a hyper-satisfaction that we control production from start to finish.
We’re going to do everything we can to satisfy our customers.
We know that when you join an industrial group it is pretty complex, it’s a lot harder.
We’d rather be on a customer number than be
really on that close side in us, we’re gonna try to get the production under control,
to maintain a very close proximity to our client.
This is very, very important.
There you go, it’s really gonna be like I can answer your question.
It’s gonna be the international competitors
who have been bought out are also French, but have been bought out.
And the idea stood out because of our philosophy, by our rates.
The idea is to tell ourselves that we’re made in France,
but just because we’re in France doesn’t mean we’re in France to be more expensive.
On the contrary, if we manage to automate,
we would discuss the history of the company.
If we can automate, we can get prices cheaper even though you’re a lot smaller.
Simply, then we will automate very modern machines after all,
and most importantly, we’re going to do very, very little subcontracting.
So we’re going to keep our costs under control from A to Z and
until the shipment until the delivery of the whole thing.
Thank you very much, Rafael.
I’ m not comfortable today with the current situation,
notably impacted by Covid 19.
I would have liked to get your feedback on your customers’ behavior…
and what he’s changed from your resellers.
And the first and second points concerning working methods of your teams during this period.
What were your solutions and approaches?
We got the announcement on March 15.
Inevitably, there was a sudden stop.
We were on an incremental path of practically
40 % of the turnover half of the turnover.
So, obviously, we had a very big open mouth.
We knew it was the biggest months of the year.
It’s true that March, April, May are very important months,
so big in budget, emailing, mailing, samples, etc.
We were really into budgets, that’ s true.
Everything stopped overnight.
From there, finally, it took about ten days.
to finally taking the fall
and figuring out what we’re gonna do. All right, well…
Actually ten days is not that much, since ten days is going to be
perceived by the customer.
Which means that after ten days, on our Realisaprint website, absolutely nothing happens…
internally, we’ re already in a state of crisis.
So internal meetings as you say, their agility and so on.
so, the next day, responsible for production, responsible for quality,
manager, products, etc.
And then, in retrospect, you think… How do we know how to do this?
We had three 2Esco at the time, the cutting machine.
And we thought we already know the suppliers of the masks, from masks, to fabrics, to texts, etc.
We built a small prototype to see if we can make the mask.
The idea wasn’t to do them for export because I assumed that we were in a period of time…
where we also had to help France a little bit.
The objective was not to buy and resell, especially having border closures.
They could also occur.
So, the idea is to figure out what we, internally, how we’re gonna be able to help people
by making our products available without having a big margin either.
The idea is really to tell ourselves that there is a shortage ahead.
It can be done.
And in the end, thanks to that, we did get into a… in a new production process.
We’ve completely changed our business.
Finally, for a month, we started producing masks like this…
in a serial and eventually we’d gone into teleworking.
We had to have people on partial layoff, and so on.
That’s where all this disruption in which we’re looking to bounce back eventually.
And in three weeks, that’s ultimately where the story ends,
in spite of this terrible event, finally showed the strength of our company
to bounce back.
And finally, everyone got back into production.
People who were in a rather small workshop for flyer frames
and train for all the big machines…
to be able to do cutting, etc.
We even bought a machine in the meantime.
We had to call for help and deliver the machine to you within a week…
So you see what it was.
It was finally a great story on a very human level here,
since we had to show our agility
and in a state of crisis, we show a little bit of know-how, too, right?
And no tension in the teams.
We were a family and that’s what we’ve been looking for for a long time
to show to our clients as well.
That is to say that the people behind the web interface are the people behind the work.
But we see it because well done on your site.
Which I like very much,
is when you put the entire Realisaprint team on display.
It’s very nice to see the faces. That’s a good idea.
Just keep going because the whole picture
is still not strong enough by comparison.
I haven’t had a chance to have you here yet,
but maybe someday you’ll come to visit us in Nice.
Of course I’ m sure.
People are impressed by it they say so.
We can see that despite everything, on your site,
that you are a dynamic team, etc.
It’s good to live, but in the end, when you are there, it’s good to live,
it’s even a lot smaller, a lot more striking.
And that’s what’s nice.
And despite the stress, it’s true that in the evening, for example,
we were all meeting at 6:00.
That’s the way it was, and that lasted two months.
Around 6:00, we’d say, for example, “Bring some fries”.
The next day, it was someone else who would see, just to say
that we’re together.
And that, in the end, we are all stuck together.
It’s true that after all there’s the Covid
in the sense that it’s kind of showing that we’re here,
we already knew that, but in fact, we have even more of a solid core
and those who were there, we don’t really talk about it,
not even on a daily basis,
to say yes, it’s true that we’ve finally experienced something extraordinary
on a human level.
In your company, it’s men and women.
Just to talk about telecommuting.
Will that be on display tomorrow for Realisaprint
and this is another approach that you’re going to keep
or is that just gonna go away as we go along?
What do you think?
It’s true that we work a lot in open space…
and the fact that we’re actually having a conversation,
which means that we have departments, but also project managers
which are basically, not an organization, a vertical drop,
is that they’ll have real communication.
Indeed, there are a few positions that could remain teleworked.
We figured it out, if you will, that I think efficiency, we must have turned an 81%.
To be honest, we’re teleworking.
Except for one purely technical person while the developers work
home was fine, but even they wanted to come back. because if you want them to get to work,
We were happy.
On the other hand, you do have to if you need to.
Rather, it is at the level of the supplier and partners.
Yes, it’s true that now we’re used to calling each other.
Well, good. Now we call with the WhatsApp.
Yeah, it’s weird.
WhatsApp, I understand, it’ s called.
We call each other over video and finally, it’s a real proximity.
The impossibilities and finally, it’s good because in the end it’s often face to face.
It’s just something else.
We don’t have that habit anymore and
it is rather at this level, at the level of the suppliers and
partners like that, to take risks.
There, that these tools can be kept.
But we notice that the marketing department needed reassurance. Yeah, it’s surprising.
Another question I would have, and besides, you’re in my opinion…
And you didn’t wait to answer them.
What this pandemic has put forward, is
the ‘Made in France’.
Put forward by the authorities and public opinion.
You want to get a sense of France in general and also
the ‘Made in France’, for printing companies in particular.
What can you ask for what you think it is
that tomorrow, in France, we’ll be able to print more?
So, let’s talk a little bit, about masks.
This is a typical example.
You can choose to import, it’s true that from that moment on, we had 2 or 3 contacts.
It’s not something that was very complex in itself.
But like it or not, we’ve positioned ourselves by saying
we know transportation’s gonna be complicated,
we close a container port, etc.
If you want to do it so much better, we don’t see the point…
to meet a shortage, I think what you’re saying really fits that typology at the end of the day.
That was for the masks, but later it’ll be on all the products.
That the customers are in a hurry, they are more and more in a hurry.
There is, however, the ecological side which is more and more important now.
I think in people’s heads when I say am I finally protecting the planet by doing, by doing this action here.
It’s true that there’s been a bit of an anti-paper thing.
I realize that as time goes by,
something that’s starting to pass and you realize that finally,
paper versus email, etc.
This is really polluting.
No, no more. Quite the contrary. The idea, on the contrary, is to tell each other how…
we can do some clean work for the planet.
The typical number, I think, corresponds to this problem by saying
we’re not going to be sending out, like, mass wastage,
but on the other hand, we’re gonna make a smart print,
we’ll address them.
We’re going to make differentiating factors with
unit customization, for example.
This kind of thing, I think it’s coming. Yeah, it’s going to be on there.
It can stay in offset, too.
But the idea, I think number one, is to say print fast, print well.
It’s something that we know how to do in every country,
you might say using technology, it’s not going to play much of a role,
but on the other hand, it’s actually the right proximity…
and print is more than just printing, it’s a project to tell yourself
how to capture the customer, as you were saying via intelligence, among other things,
via customization, etc.
So for me, at this point, obviously, it could be that
in its own country that the processor will be the most powerful. There you go.
Finally, you have to position yourself as a marketing project manager.
more than a traditional, hard-working printer.
And precisely, the demands of your customers are more and more
requests for individualization, personalization?
Absolutely, so, typically, for com agencies, for city halls,
for the election, yes, in the second round.
We’ve got town halls starting to ask us unitary personalisation for small town halls from 500 to 2,000 inhabitants
who wanted to customize to the neighborhood,
for example, depending on which one is more popular.
On the other hand, to typically change the text content according to the location of the location
because obviously, the neighborhood promos are different. Here we go.
So that’s one thing for us.
A year ago, we opened a division, we call it print on demand.
This allows precisely the same plan, however a project manager on the project demands
in order to adapt the offer precisely according to the need.
It can be the creation of a web form so that afterwards, we can retrieve the data.
We do a mailing every day. We’re good at this kind of thing.
The idea is really to accompany the client on his problems, but really, cleverly not be pure volume.
I really think the future of the printing industry lies in that.
With all this technology, it can have augmented reality tracking via flashcode.
There are really dots to be made between each technology.
Each time answers are adapted for each device.
Then we’ll talk about ‘Made in France’.
However, Realisaprint had no plans to expand abroad or outside the country in the future.
We opened, a subsidiary of Realisaprint, that was last year in May.
Now, it’s been a year since it was also a bit of an adventure
exciting because being a little bit between
the situation 12 years ago in our garage,
except we don’t have any money left, because I’ll tell you what the upside is.
On the other hand, there is a bit of that side, very, very exciting in the end,
to start from scratch and say, well, we don’t have any authority in this country…
and we’re starting a new market. Voila.
We did that.
The objective, of course, will be to quickly open production units
in other countries because if you want what I’m defending here
for the planet, to make short deadlines and short circuits,
we can’t do it via France.
We’re lucky we’re only 20 minutes from the Italian border.
The idea is not to stop at Italy either.
The idea is to create unpretentious finally, but really mega factories in every country.
A real production centre for our customers.
And also other websites, finally, which are in quotation marks.
Early risers that really do make a pure marketer.
At least the production.
To be as close as possible to Europe. So, an evolution of your business model.
I see so much.
You want to go to Italy already?
In 2-3 years, you can imagine Spain?
Later I think our country is going to expose too much more.
I think there are still two more countries that will come along
in three years. And to Spain indeed, I think in two or three years maximum.
The point is not to fall too far behind either.
And then, even to develop, you have to have a solid foundation.
For me, at the French level, it’ s still these ideas.
There are still leaders who are well positioned,
but starting from scratch, I don’t mean to inflect,
but you can still sense that there are difficulties at work.
Because of their lack of agility.
There’s already a lot to do in France.
The idea is to say we have a very big base in France,
solid, as I say, with typically an increase in our
production unit of 4 square meters in September, which is already a big step for us.
After that, the next step will be to develop the other countries.
Once established, our production hub in France will be,
in overcapacity, even though in the meantime,
since I think we’ll be making record-breaking orders, we’re sadly no longer going to be.
Thank you very much Rafael Marie for this exciting interview.
In any case, we’re going to continue to follow up on you very closely with all these plans being made for the future.
Thank you very much, Rafael.
Thank you. Once again, I wanted to congratulate you for your nomination on this great adventure, anyway.
I’m sure it’s going to pay off.
Thank you again very much, Rafael see you soon.
See you soon. Bye, now.