How COLORHUB is Pushing Reset on the Printing Industry

Every company’s journey starts with a founder or set of co-founders. ColorHub’s starts with two brothers from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Andrew Harris, now CMO, and Tim Harris, CEO. With entrepreneurial intentions, the two grew up dreaming about starting a business together. When Andrew was in college, he and Tim, who had been working in the printing industry for 5 years by then, started to brainstorm on how to innovate and build a new business in the printing industry.

At a previous company, Tim had tinkered with new business models that could differentiate in the marketplace and grow the capabilities of his company. He stumbled upon a single-pass technology and was blown away by it’s implications for printing. It was the Barberan Jetmaster. This was just the beginning.

The idea: We could really make this a thing.

“It took a while, the technology wasn’t really there yet. There was only one press in the world that could do this,” said Andrew. This started a two-year process of designing a business model with the revolutionary printing technology as the focal point. A year later the Harris brothers got wind of the only other active Barberan installation in the US, which resided in Kansas City, Missouri.

“We gave them two days notice,” said Andrew, “We were blown away by the print quality and the speed capabilities for packaging, design and production and were like ‘We could really make this a thing.’”

A few months later ColorHub found a third co-founder.

Taking the leap: Okay, we’re actually going to do this.

Steve Pastoor, now COO, joined the Harris brothers, and they knew it was time to get going on the business. Steve formerly worked for a coffee company for thirty years working in a complex business with many logistical challenges and production requirements. Then, came the ‘Okay, we’re actually going to do this’ craziness.

“We were trying to figure out how to fundraise and had lot of pivots in our business model. We decided on ColorHub as a name,” Andrew said.

ColorHub would sell digital print capabilities and augment that of other companies to stay competitive as digital print grows and demand increases. By June of 2016, all co-founders had quit their day jobs and fully committed to working out of Tim’s basement.

Next, People seemed to be pretty excited about it.

It became real for ColorHub when they sent over the first payment for the Barberan equipment, which costs millions, and millions of dollars. They were traveling frequently to printing companies, drumming up support to assemble funding. They received positive feedback.

“I was scared that we were only hearing positive things because that is what we were looking for. However, wherever the team looked, they kept echoing the same sentiments,” said Andrew. “Somehow we stumbled across this business model that seems to be solving a need and people seemed to be pretty excited about it.”

Andrew then left his job in Detroit at dPOP! with the expectation ColorHub would be fully funded. The funding process took almost a year. ColorHub needed to be fully funded in order to purchase the expensive printing equipment that was one of a kind and would help them grow. They also needed to purchase a building, and begin establishing lines of credits with suppliers.

ColorHub set out to start a trade printing business centered around the Barberan technology in the packaging and retail display markets, but have shifted considerably. They now have 3 founders and a team of 10 employees.

“ColorHub has big dreams for the industry as a whole. It’s been slow going and some pivots we make are about getting our production process in place first. Until we’re satisfied with that, we can’t work on additional revenue streams,” Andrew said.

The focus is high-end graphics packaging and retail displays, working with corrugated or cardboard boxes for marketing. Think Easter candy on cardboard shelves. The Barberan technology comes from Spain. ColorHub uses something called flexo-printing with polymer print plates, which offer the best color. The problem with digital is that it’s really slow. “Barberan shoots out under a bank of printheads at about 50 sheets a minute. The same design could take an hour elsewhere.” This allows for way better graphics without paying the fixed costs of print plates or lamination. ColorHub is targeting to customers going after high-end graphics in small or large volume. One early example was with Doze, which was eye opening to the benefits of the technology.

The ColorHub vision is for big impact on community with revenue being spread out through Michigan and the Midwest. “We want to stay ahead of the game in terms of new technology and thinking of new ways to do things. We have some of the best tech and software in the world. But we’re all brand new, so sometimes I sit back and think, we’re just outsiders trying to make the best of it.” From outsiders to insiders, ColorHub has certainly put the reset button on the printing industry.

Visit Colorhub today at http://www.colorhubprint.com/

 

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