MORE THAN TWO DECADES. COUNTLESS MILESTONES.
In 1994, Robert Keane founded Cimpress to give small business owners access to the same high-quality, custom-printed products enjoyed by big companies with big budgets.
More than 20 years later, Robert remains at the helm of our company, which is now the world leader in mass customization and a remarkable success story that has grown to over $2 billion USD in annual revenues in our last fiscal year.
Take a look at the eras that have defined our history so far.
As a student at INSEAD business school in France, Robert saw opportunity in the difficulty that small businesses faced when they needed great-looking marketing materials in low quantities. The business plan for his new company, Bonne Impression, promised to “remove the limitations previously inherent in low-volume printed communications by providing printing that is low-volume, flexible, high quality, aesthetic, quick, colorful and affordable.” Bonne Impression achieved this vision with desktop publishing software, desktop printers, and specialty desktop publishing paper supplies.
As the internet took flight in the late 1990’s, the company maintained its customer focus on do-it-yourself graphic design and printing for small quantities of full-color print, but also recognized the transformative potential of the Internet. We pioneered two key technologies that would change our industry: browser-based desktop publishing software, and workflow automation software that automatically aggregates very large numbers of small orders into high-quality, low-cost, high-volume production streams. In June 1999 we changed our name to Vistaprint, launched Vistaprint in France and the UK and, in 2000, expanded to the U.S.
Customers loved Vistaprint. We worked around the clock: recruiting great team members and expanding our products, geographies, services, manufacturing capabilities and technology. In 2003, we opened our first production facility (in the Netherlands) and our first customer service center (in Jamaica), followed by non-stop expansion around the globe. A powerful combination of great customer value, hard work and growth of e-commerce drove revenues from just $17 million in our 2002 fiscal year to $815 million by fiscal year 2011. All organically, with no acquisitions.
In 2011 we committed to extending our growth via a multi-pronged plan. Vistaprint would build manufacturing into a pillar of our competitive advantage, make customer centricity core to our culture, and invest in advertising based on the lifetime value of customers rather than on shorter-term returns. Beyond Vistaprint we would expand into new markets and business models. Across the company, we would rapidly expand our technology, finance, talent management, strategy and other support teams. And we would commit to making financial decisions based the long-term returns, not quarterly or annual financial results.
As our company expanded in multiple directions, in 2014 we changed our corporate-holding company name to Cimpress to clarify the distinction between the corporate entity and the company’s growing portfolio of customer-facing businesses.
Today’s Cimpress spans more than a dozen businesses and operations across more than twenty countries. Our revenues are growing each year by about as much as the value of our entire annual revenues of just a decade or so ago.
We manage our businesses in a decentralized, autonomous, manner in order to remain customer-focused and entrepreneurial – to “stay small as we get big”. We drive competitive advantage across Cimpress by investing in a select few shared capabilities that have the greatest potential to create company-wide value. We limit all other central activities to only those which absolutely must be performed centrally.
Great companies are those that can evolve and maintain industry leadership over many decades. Cimpress intends to remain at the forefront of mass customization, continuing to empower people to make an impression. The opportunities in front of us are immense. Our future is in our hands.
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