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Gogoprint wants to modernize online printing in Southeast Asia

TechCrunch TechCrunch 18/05/2016 Jon Russell

Gogoprint is a new company based in Thailand that wants to bring the benefits of the Internet to the printing industry in Southeast Asia.

Traditional print houses have no doubt suffered at the hands of the growth of the internet and the rise of home printers, but a number of companies are using digital to breathe new life into the business. Nasdaq-listed Vistaprint, Germany’s Unitedprint and London-based Moo.com are three examples that take orders online and fulfill them using traditional print shops.

The idea is that, once you reach scale, it is possible to find a level of efficiency that was impossible offline. That’s because print companies collect a large volume of orders which allows them to combine different customers request to fill each print sheet to capacity. ‘Batching’ prints together, as the process is called, means that less space is wasted on a print sheet, which would traditionally run some way below capacity. That level of efficiency enables online printing companies to process more orders with fewer print runs — that translates to much lower prices for customers and higher profit margins for the business. It also gives printers guaranteed volume, too.

So far, most of the focus has been on large markets like Europe and North America — although Vistaprint did enter Latin America in 2014 with an investment in Brazil-based Printi.

Why the long back story? Gogoprint believes it can bring learnings and business models from the West to Asia, and the company has already gained the backing of a key Printi investor. Since launching in November 2015, Gogoprint has raised a mid-six figure U.S. dollar investment from OPG (Online Printing Group), an investment firm from Kai Hagenbuch, an early backer of Printi.

OPG is dedicated to finding and funding online printing companies in emerging markets, which Gogoprint founders Alexander Suss and David Berghaeuser — both originally from Germany — told TechCrunch is very key.

“They are more experienced than us and understand that building companies in emerging markets is fundamentally different,” Berghaeuser, who was formerly with Rocket Internet’s Zalora business, said.

Gogoprint currently has a team of less than 20 which serve the domestic market in Bangkok. The target customer is business users, rather than consumers, and for now it offers printing for paper-based products such as business cards, flyers and brochures which are delivered 48 hours after order.

That focus on basic print items for now is very deliberate, the duo explained. Other online printing businesses often go after consumer items that, while appealing on paper, are costlier and harder to achieve efficiency in. Rocket Internet’s PrintVenue in India, for example, offers mobile skins, mouse matts and more. Unlike a print run, when filling up orders increases efficiency, these products are harder to cost optimize because order volumes are lower.

“Rocket offers many different kinds of services [that it is hard] to reach economies of scale,” Berghaeuser said.

Gogoprint is starting out in Thailand, where both Suss and Berghaeuser have resided for the past few years, but it has plans to be regional. They estimate the printing industry in Southeast Asia to be worth $25 billion annually, with smaller customers like SMEs “heavily underserved” by existing solutions. For that expansion to happen, the company is looking to raise a Series A funding round in the second half of this year.

“We’re not talking about one or two countries, we’re talking about the whole region. So [if] you want to go into five countries, you need some capital for that,” Suss, a former Ernst & Young auditor who has run multiple online commerce businesses, said.

When it comes to going regional, the German founders plan to replicate their local printing model in each country. That means going out to meet printers and explaining that they can bring them new business, no to mention hiring locals to found the business in each country. Local printing makes more sense than running everything through Bangkok, Suss said, because of faster fulflilment speed and no need for overseas shipping which raises costs.

As of now, the Gogoprint founders are weighing up which countries to enter next based on factors such as competition, market pricing and cost of production. But they could move into new countries as soon as July this year.

Beyond geographical expansion, they are also looking to move into other kinds of printing, including banners, stickers and more. Since many businesses comes to them with intent to run marketing or promotional campaigns, Suss and Berghaeuser said they might consider offering related services such as flyer campaigns or design consultancy via partnerships with local players. They are also working to open a dispatch office in Bangkok to manage the movement of their print runs more efficiently.

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