Powering Innovation in Print

Anna Oñate, OctoBoost CEO & Co-founder, talks about the VIGC Hackathon, a global virtual event sponsored by Sappi which aims to find innovative solutions to some of the graphic arts industry’s biggest challenges and that will take place from 12th-13th October 2020.

hackaton 2020

One of the Hackathon’s mentors is Anna Maria Oñate, CEO and co-founder of OctoBoost, Sappi’s internal tech start-up. Here she explains what the Hackathon is all about and why events like these are so important for the future of the industry.

1. What is the aim of the Hackathon, and why is Sappi sponsoring it?

The Hackathon’s purpose is to bring together industry enthusiasts, start-ups, scale-ups, creatives, designers, students – anybody who has an interest in finding solutions for the burning issues faced by the print industry today. Issues like ROI, data usage and sustainability. Participating teams will come up with a prototype, or just an idea if it’s more complex.

Sappi’s strategy is to support the print industry and to ensure print remains sustainable, attractive and competitive within the media mix. It’s not about fighting against digital media but showing how print and digital can work together to achieve great marketing results.

2. Who should take part?

Anybody who wants to join! Even if you’re not a coder or programmer you are welcome at the Hackathon. Obviously, technology helps to solve the burning issues of any industry, but Hackathon teams might come up with a new business idea, for example connecting brand owners with printers in a different way. Out of that idea, a mini-start-up could be formed.

I am already mentoring one group, which will probably put forward an idea around either measuring the marketing ROI of print, or integrating technologies to improve the efficiency of packaging.

anna onate-octoboost-ceo

3. What is your advice to participants in the Hackathon?

Don’t be scared – it’s an amazing experience and so much fun! It’s the opportunity to contribute to making an industry even more solid and future proof.

I was lucky enough to participate in the Hack the Crisis virtual Hackathon in the Netherlands during the Covid crisis in April, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I met a group of amazing people from eight countries, and we’ve become friends. It was incredible, and we won! We founded a start-up connecting volunteers with food business owners to make contactless deliveries for free.

Obviously, winning is amazing, but just participating is incredible. I call it a brain boost or a brainpower party. At the very least, you network with amazing people from all around the world who want to make an impact. I’ve become a Hackathon addict!


4. What prize will the winners receive?

The winners will get 3,000 euros sponsored by Sappi to help them further develop their minimum viable product, or MVP, so they can scale up, test the idea and go to market.

They also win a three-month Sappi mentoring programme from me and my colleagues who work in digital transformation. I will provide mentoring in business model innovation; print value chain; print technology, efficiency and workflow innovation; and e-commerce.

Plus, they will get exposure. They will be able to showcase their MVP at the VICG Congress on 15th October and get a lot attention and enthusiasm from the new generation of print. They will probably get investors, too, because everybody’s anxious for innovation in these difficult times.

5. How did OctoBoost get started?

OctoBoost was born in a similar initiative five years ago. Sappi was already recognising the challenges faced by the print industry from digital media, and decided to invest in different ideation processes for new solutions to help our customers become more efficient or to make print even more attractive.

So Sappi selected a group of 10 people from different disciplines, and locked us in a loft in Berlin for two days! We were given coaching, and inspired and pushed to the limits to come up with ideas to turn around the declining trend of print.

One of the ideas was OctoBoost: Sappi’s internal start-up developing technologies for printing companies. Like any start-up, we had to fight for budget, create a business plan and pitch to investors. Covid has affected us, but we have continued developing new solutions because the industry needs it more than ever.

6. How should the print industry respond to the Covid-19 crisis?

Coronavirus has been really tough, because companies had to transform digitally overnight. But it’s also brought huge opportunities, because now everyone is more open to technologies, changing processes, and automation.

This is definitely a great time for start-ups and scale-ups or any creative person to push their idea, because it will have the best chance of being sponsored and embraced. 

Click here to register now to the online Hackathon |Future-proofing the Graphic Arts Industry

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