This Internet application to facilitate online teamwork comes from a group of young Chilean...
Turning the Page
In the face of a major economic crisis, the Vorobechik brothers found opportunity, creating an on-demand publishing company that has become a leader in Latin America.
Growing up in Argentina, brothers Diego and Gustavo Vorobechik always played together. First, it was Playmobil, then tennis. They had their squabbles, of course, but their fights never lasted long. Possessed of very different temperaments, the Vorobechik brothers learned to complement one another at an early age. Diego, now 35, is the more rational brother, while Gustavo (a year and a half younger) possesses an innate pragmatism. Before either had reached the age of 30, they decided to tackle their first project as partners.
After working as a senior marketing analyst at ACNielsen and serving as the online marketing manager for Officenet, Diego was determined to try his luck as an entrepreneur. Gustavo was studying for a career in law and working at his father’s studio when he joined his brother’s endeavor. “The commercial world was a lot more attractive to me than the courts,” he recalls.
In late 2001, the brothers launched a digital printing center in the heart of Buenos Aires, just weeks before Argentina endured its worst political and economic crisis in recent memory. The business closed, but their dreams were still very much alive. As Diego recalls: “I was finishing up my MBA. For my thesis, I did research on the publishing market, with the idea of developing a business model that could rescue out-of-print books from obscurity.” That thesis became the business plan of Bibliográfika, the company that the Vorobechiks founded in 2002, now a leader in the on-demand book publishing market in Argentina and throughout Latin America.
“It was a good time to take big risks. Diego had recently married, and I was still unmarried and in no big rush. We started out with a paper cutter, a bookbinder, a small client list from our previous venture, a rented printer and some family savings,” explains Gustavo. “And we went for ten months without billing a dime,” adds Diego.
To get their business up and running, they first contacted the major publishing houses and bookstores. “We had the feeling that the project was going to work, but we really knew we were on the right track when we presented the project to Xerox’s board of directors and they made the commitment to back us and then chose our business as a success story in on-demand printing for all of Latin America,” the brothers explain. Two years later, in 2004, Bibliográfika was recognized by Endeavor, an international organization that promotes the development of high-impact entrepreneurs.
According to the Vorobechik brothers, their success lies in the technologies that allow them to print from one to a thousand books with optimal quality and in record time, which lets Bibliográfika help expand the publishing business by revamping the value chain and creating important benefits for publishers, authors and readers. “On-demand book production offers the possibility of printing books in accordance with sales, reducing investment, risk and stock,” they explain.
Today, Bibliográfika operates out of an 8,600-square-foot building in Buenos Aires. They offer more than 20,000 titles from over 600 publishing houses and project invoices of two million dollars for 2010. In addition, the Vorobechiks plan to incorporate new businesses and services, like the development of the Spanish-language eBooks market in collaboration with Publidisa, a global leader in on-demand book production. The Feria Chilena del Libro and Argentina’s Musimundo will join the roster of affiliated eBook sellers, which already includes Spain’s El Corte Inglés and La Casa del Libro, Mexico’s Librería Gandhi and Colombia’s Librería Norma, among others. in
“We were always interested in the stories of people who founded large companies. At a family level, it was our uncles, who are also entrepreneurs.”
What do you wish you had known before starting your business?
“If we had known that the international crisis was coming, we could have saved ourselves some headaches!”
Any advice for entrepreneurs?
- Know how to consult experts and benefit from the advice of those who know more than you do.
- Compare ideas while maintaining your convictions. A professor once told us that you have to take a hammer to ideas to see if they hold up.
- Persevere, not by being stubborn but by always trying new things.