Starting From Scratch: The Mimeo Patents

David Uyttendaele, Co-Founder & CTO
Mimeo.com

Writing the first sentence on a blank page can often be the most challenging, as is starting anything from scratch. To the print industry, the internet was that blank page in the 1990’s. Naturally, we took the initiative to create a virtual Printer connected to the Internet that anyone could use. It was called Easy Copy (now Mimeo Print).

Mimeo Ezviewer Patent Ezviewer patent, filed in 1999, enabled users to see the first real-time proof of a printed document online, complete with binding and finishing. A separate patent was created to run the print service through this website.

At that time, as enterprise businesses were fully implementing the internet throughout their remaining divisions, the print industry reacted by trying to mold themselves around this revolution. The antiquated workflows and production facilities of existing printers, however, were not ready for this shift. Mimeo disrupted the industry because we were not just another printer scrambling to adapt our business for the internet. Instead, Mimeo was born to solve a problem for customers through technology.  This gave us a serious advantage –  we were able to invent precisely what we wanted in order to drive down costs and increase efficiency, rather than being limited by an existing process and customer base.

We set out to create a technology company… that printed. We invented an entirely new workflow for printing, and built production facilities whose core focus was to only print documents ordered online.

Mimeo has always been an incredibly visual solution – and we knew very early on that the best way to communicate our value was to show it. People were spending hours waiting in line at local copy shops, driving back and forth to submit their material. They would then receive a hard copy proof, wait again, and then finally pick up their order. Co-founder, Jeff Stewart, took his frustration of waiting in line to produce business proposals on the road, and thought that there must be a better way…

“When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.” ~ Elon Musk , Speaking to The Los Angeles Time

That better way was inventing an instant, visual, digital way. Mimeo’s UI was designed to be as intuitive as possible; we needed a platform to eliminate all of these antiquated copy shop steps. There was a real opportunity to create a platform that gave people back the time they were wasting. The more we boiled down the fundamental truths behind print, the stronger our clarity became.

Mimeo Ezviewer Patent Illustration Patent Illustration of uploading, building, proofing, and ordering on what would become Mimeo.com

We developed a method to store files and documents for organization and easy reordering called the library. We invented the first web-based document building  “WYSIWYG” technology – what you see is what you get. Customers could now view a detailed, interactive proof of their documents in real time. Flipping through the pages, we invented a way to view where staples, hole punches, and bindery options align with the actual content of the document. As a result, this greatly eliminated waste and error for our customers. Reasoning was derived from these truths, and the groundwork for Mimeo was set.

The patented Exact Print Mimeo.com Software The patented Exact Print Mimeo.com Software allowed customers to select Mimeo as their printer under their desktop ‘File >Print 15 years ago.

Inserting additional features to the documents, such as tabs and slip sheets, were now done instantly online. Our real-time pricing tool allowed customers to receive quotes instantly, reflecting what features were added and removed from the document. With every step we developed in the Mimeo process, we eliminated several steps from a traditional process. Our customers began saving hours of time using Mimeo compared to their previous processes. By breaking things down to their core, we were able to print and deliver higher quality documents more quickly. We hired full-time print professionals instead of part-time retail employees. Cost savings were passed on to our customers by eliminating the overwhelming expense of owning a network of brick and mortar locations. Through our efforts, print was finally ready for the 21st century.

Screenshot from Mimeo Patent enabling users to ship documents to multiple locations. Screenshot from Mimeo Patent enabling users to ship documents to multiple locations. Today, our corporate customers use this feature to send documents to hundreds of locations by placing a single order.

Almost two decades later, we haven’t stopped disrupting the industry by introducing new ways to produce and distribute content. We are excited to announce the global launch of Mimeo Digital. Our entire solution now encompasses the ability to manage and distribute content both digitally and physically, whenever you need it. Our customers are just as excited as we are.

We realized something while waiting in all of those copy shop lines – if there isn’t a better way out there, you just simply have to invent it.

Mimeo has transformed to offer multiple content distribution applications one platform(Left) Mimeo’s original homepage filed with the U.S. patent office in 1999. (Right) Mimeo’s homepage presently. Since 1999, Mimeo has produced and delivered 140 million documents to over 140 countries.

Free Account  Mimeo Print Logo

Mimeo was created to give people back time. Mimeo Print users can upload content to their digital library and organize files by folders. Want a hardcopy printed? Build, proof, and ship in a few minutes. Content can even be shared with varying levels of permissions to other Mimeo Print users. No order minimums, no commitments, 24/7 support! 

flipping (6)Users can place a print order for delivery to hundreds of locations with a single click. Instead of hundreds of emails, easily view and map the status of each shipment. What would have once been a massive undertaking is now organized in one screen.

Click around a free Mimeo Print account and start organizing your content, regardless if it’s a single poster or 1,000 different corporate brochures varying by geographic region or brand. No minimums, real-time pricing.

Now cross a content-related project off of your to-do list!

Editor’s note:  This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated to reflect accuracy.


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