Mimeo.com: Driven to Succeed Online
It's not splitting hairs to say the genesis of the company was a plan to provide a better user experience for getting a document printed, not to launch a printing company. According to David Uyttendaele, the company's chief technology officer and one of its co-founders, Mimeo.com was born of the founders' personal pain in getting their printing needs met. Specifically, the then-technology consultants found it difficult to get proposals and other documents printed out while working onsite at a client's facility.
The company was founded in December of 1998 and the service went live about a year later. "My job was to spend a year solving the problems of printing over the Internet," Uyttendaele recalls. That effort included creating a print driver for the Windows operating system that lets users simply print to Mimeo.com via a Website that enabled users to "build and proof" the document and place an order.
Its chief technology officer explains that what made, and continues to make, Mimeo.com unique is owning all of the pieces. It started with having technology on the front end to make printing painless, he says, but equally important was designing essentially a manufacturing facility for print situated right next to a FedEx hub.
Inherent in this business model is a need to balance providing customers with as much product flexibility as possible while ensuring the product can be efficiently manufactured. "Our approach is a little broader than Henry Ford's statement, 'We'll make a car in any color you want as long as it is black,' " Slutsky quips, "but we can't give them every color in the rainbow."
Adding a new product to the mix requires that:
• the product be integrated into both the production workflow and the Web-to-print interface;
• its parameters be optimized for production and processes refined to manufacture it efficiently; and