Gelato is the world’s largest on-demand production engine for customised items. We enable entrepreneurs and global brands to sell to customers anywhere in the world and produce the items locally. We operate in 30 countries, reaching up to 6 billion consumers over one production engine. Thousands of entrepreneurs use our platform to scale their e-commerce businesses and grow global GDP.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I was fortunate enough to work with one of the best entrepreneurs in Europe – Jan Stenbeck – who co-founded Vodafone and founded Tele2, Metro International and Millicom. I started working with him in January 2000 and learned a few valuable operating principles:
● Never invest in fixed assets, but partner with the asset owners. If we don’t own assets, we can travel like Nomads, be flexible and never need to settle.
● Our main focuses should always be the customer and software.
● Focus on improving global, legacy heavy and inefficient industries.
At the age of 31 I became CEO for Tele2 in Norway, and 3 years later I chose to resign. I was no longer motivated to work somewhere with a growing number of leaders and thinkers, but fewer and fewer entrepreneurs and doers.
I had no clue what to do next, but I knew exactly what I had learned. So, I flew to Portugal with my family and bought all the business magazines I could find and spent the next two weeks reading through them. In one of them, was an article about an industry I thought was dying – if not already dead – printing!
I learned that digital printing was one of the fastest growing industries on the planet, growing at a rate of $10 billion per year. I also realised that consumer demand was shifting from large analog print runs to smaller personalised print runs. To profit from this changing demand, software and automation – rather than physical assets – were required. I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is what I’ve been doing for the last 6 years – perhaps this is where I truly can apply my learnings,’ and so Gelato began.
Today, more than a decade later, Gelato’s platform enables anyone on the planet to sell, produce and deliver customised products to customers anywhere in the world.
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What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’ve been guided by Guy Kawasaki’s advice, which is to quickly move to a position where you can ship your products. In other words, when you build a company from scratch, you need to get your products to market. You cannot sit and perfect them in your office. The product needs to be experienced by your customers so you can get their feedback, improve upon it and, of course, you need to start generating revenue.
This transition, from idea to real-life products, was the most challenging time for me.
Finally, I would say – jump and jump totally! It doesn’t work to just “dip” your toe in the water. You might want to keep your day job until you get your business off the ground, but it won’t work that way. You cannot do this “on the side”.
What can we hope to see from Gelato in the future?
Shopify and Etsy are e-commerce platforms that help entrepreneurs reach consumers all across the world via digital interfaces and website solutions. Gelato is the production and distribution engine that supports these e-commerce companies and enables them to expand globally. What the Canadian entrepreneur creates and sells to the customer in Norway through Shopify, Gelato produces and ships to the customer in Oslo.
In 2021, Gelato will accelerate the value creation to entrepreneurs and e-commerce players by adding more products, countries and partners. We are an engine for on-demand products, and this has the potential to reshape global manufacturing as we know it, and become a significant contributor to the growth of global GDP.
We are also forecasting an annual revenue of EUR 130 million with positive cash flow in 2021.