As seen on Oprah: Ecofont, the Dutch font-with-holes in it
In 2008, entrepreneur Alexander Kraaij and his coworkers at communication agency Spranq came up with a deceptively simple solution to cut toner costs: a font with holes in it. They thought it could save on toner costs – not to mention the ecological benefits of using less (toxic) printer toner.
While the idea was simple, getting it to work wasn’t: it took months to come up with a passable prototype. It’s actually so hard that even today, Kraaij doesn’t deem it necessary to patent the process, he told the Financieel Dagblad today:
‘It’s about a lot more than priting a few holes in the letters. Our algorithm is very complex.’
The first version of Ecofont was a piece of software and the font Bitstream Vera. It was accompanied by a short press release – that was picked up by Oprah Winfrey, The Associated Press, Nationa Geographic, The Economist and CNN. Says Kraaij today in FD: ’We reached 500 million people with a 500 € press release.’
Ecofont was such an overnight success that the entrepreneur had to spin out Ecofont into a separate company and find technical help and financing to cope with the demand.
Four years later, Ecofont offers hole riddled versions of the 5 most used Microsoft fonts – Arial, Verdana, Calibri, Times New Romand and Trebuchet MS.
It has 50 000 paying customers who license the software, among which Türk Telecom, CIBC Mellon and even a newspaper: Diàrio do Comércio. Consumer licenses are priced at $ 25, larger corporations contract a separate license deal. Dow Chemical, the Dutch government and Telegraaf Media are interested in the font. The company claims that you can save “up to 50% of toner costs” thanks to its solution.
Ecofont has a turnover between € 500 k and € 1 million, according to the FD. The company was recently named ‘Challenger of the Year’ by Dutch entrepreneur magazine Sprout.
Read more (Dutch): Duurzame letter met gaatjes gaat als inktvlek de wereld over
Photo, Djsoundwave, Flickr
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