Gelato to expand into 3D printing with $240 million funding round

Gelato, a Norwegian-born platform for shipping customized products, has raised $240 million in funding to further tap into the growing “creator economy” and expand into new local production hubs and products, including 3D printing. 

The funding round was led by global venture capital firm Insight Partners, which has previously invested in the likes of engineering software developer nTopology and software-as-a-service firm SimScale. The investment also saw participation from SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and its existing investors.

The capital injection will accelerate the company’s market penetration and growth in the US and Asia, as it aims to fulfill its goal of empowering ecommerce and the creator economy while achieving hyper-efficient local production on a global scale. 

“By bringing production of customized products to local markets all across our planet, we empower ecommerce sellers and the creator economy to serve any customer, anywhere, in a way that is much more cost-effective and sustainable,” said Henrik Müller-Hansen, CEO and Founder of Gelato. “Through software that connects to idle production capacity, our platform is taking an active part in transforming global manufacturing as we know it.

“As ecommerce continues to grow, so will our local production partners and their ability to create jobs in their local communities.”

Gelato CEO and Founder Henrik Müller-Hansen. Photo via Gelato.
Gelato CEO and Founder Henrik Müller-Hansen. Photo via Gelato.

Solving hyper-efficient local production

Gelato was founded in 2007 with the goal of solving the challenge of producing and distributing customized printed products to a global customer base for both ecommerce entrepreneurs and global companies alike. Since then, the company has established a network of more than 100 production partners in 33 countries, reportedly enabling its ecommerce sellers to reach some five billion consumers worldwide within 72 hours. 

The company launched its application programming interface (API)-driven platform to the ecommerce sector in 2019, and has supported partners ranging from individual sellers and creators to global companies like online graphic design tool Canva

Gelato’s platform enables orders to be made on-demand and near the end-customer in a bid to slash delivery times, waste, carbon emissions, and costs. The platform also removes the seller’s need to manage inventory, manufacturing, or shipping operations.

The firm estimates the market for customized products will grow from $230 billion to more than $320 billion by 2025, and believes its platform will help companies and individuals alike to take advantage of this, providing them an instant global reach through local production and distribution “anywhere, anytime”. 

“Gelato’s customized software platform connects two of the world’s largest industries, the $230 billion digital production industry with the rapidly growing ecommerce sector,” said Anthony Doeh, Partner for SoftBank Investment Advisors. “Long-term, we believe that Gelato’s curated marketplace can redefine manufacturing, breaking through previous barriers for individual sellers to access a global consumer base, faster, and at a lower cost.”

Screenshot of Gelato's API-driven platform.
Screenshot of Gelato’s API-driven platform.

Moving into 3D printing

The company’s latest funding round has provided it with a $240 million capital injection to accelerate its market penetration and growth throughout the US and Asia. 

Led by Insight Partners, the funding round saw participation from SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Goldman Sachs, and the company’s existing investors Dawn Capital, SEB Pension Fund, Gelato’s Chairman John Hepburn, and Tellef Thorleifsson, CEO of Norwegian investment fund Norfund

The investment will also enable Gelato to expand its network of local production hubs and products, including 3D printing. The firm’s goal is to continue broadening its hyper-local network of worldwide production partners and improve upon its software platform.

“Gelato is a game changer for the world’s creator community,” said Adam Berger, Managing Director at Insight Partners and incoming member to Gelato’s Board. “With Gelato’s software, an entrepreneur in, for example, Africa, with a great idea and little to no capital, can in minutes be able to produce, ship, and get paid for their product sold in, for example, Germany, with no upfront investment in inventory, manufacturing or logistics – and achieve similar profit margins as competitors 100 times their size.”

As such, Gelato’s business model and global production network are capable of lowering the barriers to creators and entrepreneurs around the world by giving them the production costs and delivery speed of large ecommerce sellers, without the requirement for upfront investment. The platform has now set its sights on entering the 3D printing arena, and could potentially enable hobbyists and designers in the creator community to scale their 3D printing projects.

“This levels the global creator and ecommerce playing field and is an enormous economic and social opportunity,” added Berger. “We believe Gelato is solving hyper-efficient local production at a global scale. 

“With the emergence of new technologies such as 3D printing, Gelato’s curated and global marketplace will empower businesses and consumers around the world.”

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Featured image shows Gelato CEO and Founder Henrik Müller-Hansen. Photo via Gelato.