With an academic background in technology, Luis Guilherme Diniz has been in the graphic arts sector all his life. He started his career at a provider of photocomposition solutions. He followed the evolution of photolith systems and has experienced first-hand the entire digital transformation of the graphic arts industry working for large companies in the sector such as Eastman Kodak and Esko.
Subsequently, he has specialized in e-commerce and for the past 12 years has been dedicated to helping print service providers make online sales through web-to-print solutions. A path that has led him to found Arando, a Portuguese startup that offers a very innovative solution for small graphic companies that want to start selling online at low cost.
LA PRESTAMPA – You are one of the many professionals who began their career in graphic arts in phototypesetting and ended up in pixels, how have you personally experienced the digital transformation of the graphic industry?
LUIS – When I started working in this sector, everything was done manually, on the one hand, we prototyped the text, which was then mounted in photolithography together with the images from the large cylindrical scanners such as Hell and Crosfield that used to separate colors. It was another reality, there were many more people working in the prepress department. The structure was much larger and much more expensive. I remember that a Dainippon-Screen system required a dedicated air-conditioned room.
I was responsible for teaching people to work on these systems, all done blind, without preview. Nowadays everything is much easier, since the appearance of the famous PAGEMAKER software, together with the evolution of hardware has provided do much more with much. Explaining to a young man of today used to iPads and iPhones, how the process was done previously is difficult.
LA PRESTAMPA – What made you “move” to the ecommerce environment?
LUIS – Without a doubt, the web has changed the game. Before the information was very restricted and the internet made democratization. Today we buy products in 3 clicks from any country.
The printing industry has not ignored these changes, it had to modernize. In late 1999, I began to notice the trend that technologies used on the Internet would “migrate” to printing and that sales of printed products could also be done online.
I began to educate myself on the subject, it still took a while for the first online print sales, that is, the first web-to-print systems. In 2009 I started selling the first software licenses as (SaaS), nowadays a concept
I accept very well but 10 years ago it was a very innovative concept because printers were used to hosting their own solutions, so one of the first barriers that had to be broken were to convince the client that it was easier pay a monthly fee for a SaaS system that already included everything from hosting to backup, than having a server at home that would quickly become obsolete and that would have to spend a lot of money to stay current.
LA PRESTAMPA – You have told us about your professional experience in the industry, now, how do you see the evolution of the graphic arts sector? Where do you think printing is going?
LUIS – Today, due to the abnormal situation that we are living in the world, some processes that were already occurring naturally, have accelerated exponentially. I believe that the trend will continue with the multinational giants of the sector, increasingly large and powerful, acquiring smaller companies. Many companies don’t know will resist, close their doors, others will shift their focus to selling exclusively in line. Others will continue to print but will offer “boutique” products. differentiated with
VIP service and thus we begin the era of hyperspecialization.
The print will survive but with a different approach. The trend is a lot
shorter, specific content, and massive customization, all with a lot of technology and automated processes. Super-connected printers in an increasingly world digitized. Physical and personalized printing is a great differential for any brand, so graphic companies must address this context in order to be able to take advantage of it.
LA PRESTAMPA – As an expert in Web To Print, what are the differences between Web To Print and a Prestashop traditional eCommerce (online store) for example?
LUIS – The concept of web-to-print is very broad and is often misunderstood. The term is made popular with online editors where you could choose predefined templates with variable data. My explanation is quite simple: in the case of printed products, the process is different from traditional e-commerce. Printers accept orders of something that does not yet exist, something that will have to be manufactured. Therefore, they must be defined details such as type of material, colors, and formats to get an idea of the amount to pay.
A problem begins that the traditional eCommerce CMS did not solve very well, how to present these values to the end customer? So to produce something that doesn’t exist yet, you need a final art, and how to send this art? Online editor? Go up? All of these are problems that a web-to-print system seeks to solve and that CMSs like Prestashop by yes alone can not.
LA PRESTAMPA – I imagine that your company is born from your experience in eCommerce and printing. Can you explain to us how ARANDO (means Cranberry) came about?
LUIS – The idea for Arando came up while he was still working as a Pressero representative for Latin America. In 2018/19 I graduated from a course at the Founder Institute and participated as an exhibitor at WebSummit in Lisbon with the idea of the startup, but that over time has undergone many changes. Anyway, little by little I began to imagine how I could create an extremely popular product in a highly scalable model. But the idea only came forward in 2020 with the pandemic, the controlling group of Pressero the group Pressero’s controller terminated my contract and I began to dedicate myself to the Arando project full time.
LA PRESTAMPA – If I’m not mistaken, Arando in Portuguese means Cranberry, why do you put your company the name of this fruit?
LUIS – I wanted a Portuguese name that started with the letter A and was easy to pronounce in other languages, our first office was in an entity linked to the agribusiness and the rooms were named after fruits, as we were in the Arando room (Cranberry) hence the inspiration for the name. I did a Google search and it seemed like a good fruit.
LA PRESTAMPA – How do you see the Web To Print market? What are the synergies between eCommerce and Graphic Arts?
LUIS – The market is high. Before the pandemic, some companies had doubts about whether it would be worth investing and selling online. Today companies no longer have doubts, they need to sell online to survive.
The synergies between web-to-print and eCommerce are many. Web-to-Print is nothing more than an eCommerce of something that does not yet exist. This is not unique to the printing industry.
There is a lot of eCommerce for products yet to be manufactured, such as shoes, clothes, cars, etc. We live in an era of hyper-personalization of everything and one of the industries that most dominates this issue of personalization is the graphics industry.
What is lacking is the knowledge of how to sell online and it is precisely here where Arando comes to help by allowing a printer to use a standard, non-proprietary CMS.
The printer has access to a series of tools already developed for eCommerce, SEO, digital marketing, analytics, metrics, as well as being able to develop your own user experience and its user interface.
LA PRESTAMPA – From La Prestampa, we want to understand both the company’s value proposition
LUIS – As your business model, what does Arando have of differential for the graphic sector? As I said before, I worked as Pressero’s web-to-print representative in the market Latin American, I even worked for a short period with companies in Spain. But how representative, I always had difficulty implementing the solution in different countries. In Brazil, there is a payment system that is different from Argentina that is different from
Mexico, shipping methods also vary from country to country. Integration with these systems is quite expensive and time-consuming. While with regular platforms found in the market such as Prestashop that you mentioned before, the options are a lot broader.
So I didn’t want to make this same mistake again. We create a new concept of eCommerce-to-Print when making the decision to leave the front-end (store) open. We do not have a CMS, the customer chooses what he wants to use while we focus on the server development in the cloud. A customer with an account can control a number of unlimited sales channels. All orders converge in a single location where they can be sent to all automated workflows.
We are currently ready to connect to WordPress / WooCommerce as it is an extremely popular platform, but with time we will also connect with other CMS like Shopify, Prestashop, Bigcommerce, and also marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, social networks such as Instagram, YouTube and Chat Bots with Artificial Intelligence technology.
Arando offers printers total freedom to create new sales channels without being limited to a single platform and a single business model. In addition to being able to have websites you manage, you can also connect a third party site and not have to worry about the marketing and site management. What matters, in the end, is receiving the order and producing it.
LA PRESTAMPA – What is Arando’s business model?
LUIS – Our model is SaaS (Software as a Service) Pay as you go, our client creates a free account on the platform and pays when receiving orders. We do not charge an installation fee and we do not impose usage limits.
LA PRESTAMPA – How is a Portuguese client different from a Spanish one in your sector?
We take advantage of the excellent stability and quality of life in Portugal but the market here is much smaller than the market in Spain, the Portuguese customer is extremely demanding and ultra-conservative, any new technology takes a long time to implement, for this reason, our commercial and development efforts are Aimed at the foreign market as well as the vast majority of startups and technology companies based in the country.
LA PRESTAMPA – Do you have a presence in Spain or other “Latin” or Spanish-speaking markets?
LUIS – Not yet in Spain, but we are open to Spanish companies interested in selling online. In Latin America, we already have clients in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.
LA PRESTAMPA – What achievements have you achieved to date?
LUIS – With our own effort, we have managed to launch version 1.0 in May of this year. We are in our infancy as a product and as a company, but we are aware of our disruptive potential and for us, the most important thing is to bring knowledge to the market and help companies sell more. We managed to have a stable platform that solves a real problem, clients are satisfied that we offer less risk at a reduced cost, they can try more, risk more and create business models “out of the box”. This paradigm break for us is the most important thing.
LA PRESTAMPA – How do you see Arando in a few years?
LUIS – We want to grow exponentially over the next 5 years with the eCommerce-to-Print concept, helping as many companies as possible to sell more and better online. We are working to have some traction and paying clients to start an investment round in order to achieve our goal.
Thank you very much for this interview Luis.