The Gelato culture deck



Why we exist

Why we exist

All great ideas start out small. But to make a true impact, they need a lot of work and passion. Time and grit.

Gelato is here to make creators around the world turn their dreams into reality. To help unlock their potential. To connect people and ideas everywhere and turn them into real products that can be sold anywhere. Together we bring creativity to life. And into business.

Producing everything in one place and shipping it across the planet has caused enough harm. It can’t sustain. That’s why we’re using the power of partnerships and technology to rethink production.

Gelato enables local, on-demand production on a global scale. So that local communities can produce what local communities need when they need it.

By doing so we are changing the game. We make it possible for small ideas to grow and make an impact for both people and planet.

Gelato. Bringing creativity to life – and into business.

woman at sea CD

Chapter 1

Our values

Our values

Our values govern our internal and external relationships. They set the foundation for what we stand for and the behaviors we promote. And in an ever-changing world, our brand values always remain the moral compass
 guiding our decision-making.

  • Authentic

  • Long-term

  • Friendly

  • Innovative

remi-walle-UO culture deck


As a brand and team, we don’t try to be anything we are not. We try never to exaggerate or dress ourselves up. We like it plain and simple. We describe the world as it is – straight to the point. We see no differences between people and people. Hierarchies do not exist. We battle over ideas while we forget our titles.  

We know that we don’t know. We like honesty and humbleness – yet we have great confidence in what we do. These are the consequences of hiring good-hearted and smart team members, people that want to make the world a  better place.

Old lady culture


Time is a crucial ingredient in the recipe for creating lasting value. What is easily created is easily replicated. Your most valuable relationships have taken time to build. So, since Gelato does not own fixed assets, we rely on long-term partnerships. We exist to give every human being access to sustainable and local production.

Democratizing such value creation also takes time,  endurance and grit. We’re not one for shortcuts. Our vision is global, bold and important. Our journey has no “finishing line”, and we like to travel like that – guided by long-term thinking and good karma. 



We are part of the global society. Our tattoo states “no nationality”. Gelato is a citizen of the world. Here, there is no difference between people and people, man or woman, color of your skin or religions. In our world there are no borders. 

We believe in making friends. We prioritize the collective rather than the individual. Think about it. We know that the greater good is better than the smaller good. Please don’t misunderstand us; we are not naive. We are as much realists as idealists. We are here to make profit, otherwise we can do no good. 



Innovation has always been the core of Gelato. Our eagerness to constantly develop our platform, our network and products helps empower human beings, creators, entrepreneurs and organizations. Our tools bring creativity to life – and into business. Innovation originates from a desire to do better, but also from the fact that time is running out.

We are convinced that most of us want to change the way we consume. Products produced locally, in the amount needed, when they’re needed. This represents the change characterizing the next generation of manufacturing. To drive this transformation, we are problem-solvers. We are executional ninjas. Because we know that change will only come after sharp focus and hard work.


Chapter 2

The way we live

The way we live

At Gelato we enable local, on-demand production on a global scale. So that local communities can produce what local communities need when they need it. That’s the core of what we do.

We represent the world’s largest network for production on-demand. By producing personalized products locally across the globe, reaching billions of people, we take an active part in making the world a slightly better place.

To make this happen, we need a rare breed of people. The kind of people who truly want to win. People that think making a positive change is worth the extra effort. People that want to reach the top while at the same time ensuring strong collaboration with others in the team. Always reminding themselves that reaching the summit is only one milestone on the journey.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life. The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the way to do great work is to love what you do. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

By joining Gelato you make an active choice. A choice that means – for you – the journey is the reward. Together we build a global marketplace with services that other people feel good when using. Services that bring creativity to life – and into business.

We wanted to put into words how we work together and operate in this company, what this team and our mentality are about. In this culture deck, you will read about what we believe are important aspects of Gelato and our culture. How we win and fail as a team. Both are inseparable in the pursuit of change.

Welcome to Gelato!


Chapter 3

Our team - Foundational pillars

We hire for attitude and train for skill

Skills are always important, but it’s the attitude that creates a winner. An attitude that’s open to change. An attitude that’s constantly pushing towards learning and acquiring new skills.

Our industry is constantly evolving. New production technologies and rapid shifts in consumer demand play to our advantage. We never stand still. We know today's knowledge and skill sets will be less valuable tomorrow. Constantly changing is what defines disruptors. It’s required to stay at the forefront. We therefore actively seek it: we embrace the change.

We are looking for the team members who want to win the gold medal in the Olympics. People who are self-propelled and whose passion overrides momentary dips in motivation. People who never lose sight of the endgame. People who wake up early because they simply can’t stop practicing.

Those who also know how to ‘sharpen the saw’, meaning when to pause and invest in yourself. Because great achievements are only possible if you have the energy to pursue them.


A global company with a global team

Many companies only pay lip service to diversity.

This is not the case at Gelato. We are global citizens acknowledging that the combination of different backgrounds, age, opinions, religions, cultures and genders add up to one of our greatest assets: true diversity.

With our diverse team, our ambition and vision are important unifiers. With so many nationalities, we know that depending on where you live, all global events are interpreted very differently. Your view on life and the world we live in are impacted by many factors. What religion you belong to, What your family has experienced? These are some of the reasons why we at Gelato avoid speaking about politics. It’s not like we don’t care about politics. We respect the complexities of the world we live in. Who are we to decide what is right and what is wrong?

Also, we are not here to speak about politics. We are here to build a lasting company. We are careful about what we invest our energy into. The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed – only converted from one form of energy to another. This means that a system always has the same amount of energy, unless it's added from the outside. Our team has chosen to invest the energy in building a lasting company. We focus on why we exist. We focus on all the good things that Gelato’s growth will bring to communities and people all around the world.


Travelling like nomadic people

We don’t believe in the lifestyle of settlers. We don’t want to own land or property. We never stay to protect a piece of land that’s no longer fertile. We quickly gather our belongings and move on. We know that we get along by getting along. This is also the reason why we call our suppliers ‘partners’, not suppliers.  

Just like nomadic people, we travel light and fast.  

And just like them, we collaborate and build relationships. Undertaking the nomadic way of life means accepting a level of constant change.  

We seek to constantly evolve. We do not seek the security that society wants us to believe in. You know the “stuff” that many of our teachers and some of our parents told us when we grow up. We are not saying that’s right; we are simply saying that’s how we think.  

These are all reasons for why we do not believe in owning fixed assets.  


We battle over ideas

We don’t believe in hierarchies. We all have equal value. The best idea wins. For a company that calls itself innovative,  there can be no other way.  

Cognitive diversity also makes a group smarter. Two heads are better than one. Many heads are even better, provided everyone is willing to share their expertise and opinions. At Gelato, everyone is expected to innovate. And innovation requires battling over ideas.  

Building products that don’t exist today is only possible if we remember that criticizing an idea is the easy part. At Gelato,  we question and challenge, but never without also providing a recommended solution.  

We search for resources where others see waste.  

We recognize that building a successful global company is extremely hard. We disagree because it makes us less fragile. But once we agree, we focus all our energy on execution.


Chapter 4

We're here to change the world. Want to join us?

Those who can't change their minds can't change anything

In this era, change is the only constant.  

Over the last decade, we have seen how fragile and fast-moving the world is. Industries have collapsed, companies disappeared and new innovations have successfully challenged what we thought was certain.  

The challenges with the old manufacturing model and global supply chains are now undeniable. Acknowledgement of these changes is accelerating the transformation from unsustainable manufacturing systems towards local production and distribution models. Enabling and accelerating this shift from central to local has never been more important. 

Personal development is propelled by our curiosity. In this hurricane of change, the most difficult thing to change is often ourselves. At Gelato we work hard in order to constantly change our way of thinking and operating. We embrace this constant change. We proactively seek personal change. We read a lot. We question our conclusions. We stay close to the innovators and try to understand the change-makers. 

Our company’s competitiveness is propelled by the search for and implementation of new technologies. After all, the technologies we see today will eventually fade away to make room for the new. 


The bureaucrat versus the entrepreneur

“The bureaucrat starts with their resources. We start with our opportunities. The bureaucrat wants to be right from the start.  We want to start early so that we can change when we are wrong. The bureaucrat wants to make long-lasting decisions.  We move step by step.  

Our way of working is always evolving – much is forced upon us, while certain changes are simply necessary. We know that we need to act now, and often before we have enough information to make ‘rational’ decisions. 

Our way of working goes against the expectations of the traditional business world. We don’t inform fully because we simply do not know more. 

Changing direction does not necessarily mean bad planning: it highlights our acceptance of constantly seeking  the ‘right’ path.”  

Jan Hugo Stenbeck 



As much idealists as we are realists

You can have lofty goals and beautiful dreams, but they will remain only dreams unless you have the resources to fulfil them. 

Idealism and realism are two leadership attributes that can inspire and mobilize. Separately, they are limited and ineffective. Combined, they create a powerful tool for turning a dream into a reality. 

An entrepreneur who is also a realist knows that one of the most important assets when you build a company is cash. When building a company, access to financial resources is as important as water is to a human being. Financial assets are fundamental to any team and company that wants to build something with lasting value. 

So, for any innovation to happen, we need shareholders and investors. What we do must therefore create meaning and long-term economic value.  

In the pursuit of building a lasting and valuable company we need to show respect for the money our investors have entrusted to us. Therefore, capital efficiency is important for us. A question you could ask yourself is: “Would I invest in this  if it was my parents’ money?”. If the answer is ‘yes’, it’s most likely a great investment.


Walking the extra miles

We want to surround ourselves with people who are here because they took an active choice – an active choice to join  Gelato. You should want to be an entrepreneur. You need to think as an owner of a company. Working in a company with  our vision and commitment to change how the world works will require a lot of energy and time from you. We are here because we love building companies. We are here because we are passionate about our journey and vision.  

If you ask someone who’s climbing Mount Everest or training to win an Olympic gold how many hours they're training,  you’re likely only going to hear,

“This is my passion. I am not happy if I do not get to climb mountains. Therefore, I don’t count the hours; I count the altitude I am at and the peaks I  have climbed”. 

 “Never let failure discourage you. Every time you get to the base of a mountain (literal or metaphorical), you're presented with a new opportunity to challenge yourself, to push your limits beyond what you thought possible, to learn from climbers on the trail ahead of you, and to take in some amazing views. Your performance on the mountain you  climbed last week or last month or last year doesn't matter –  because it's all about what you are doing right now.”  

Alison Levine 


Transparency and honesty

Everyone has room for improvement, regardless of title or seniority. Transparency is our way of working. Here we want to seek constant self-improvement. This is our way of living. It is the only way of building a lasting company, at least if you ask us. 


Consequently, we speak about how things really are. If things don’t work out, you will know. Equally importantly, if things are working well, you will also hear about it. By the way,  this is mutual. For feedback to be productive, it must go both ways. Therefore, we expect everyone to speak up. 

Be candid, but respectful. Always. 


If you understand who we are and where we come from,  we’re convinced you will learn to appreciate this honesty. We aspire to offer you an open culture, a culture in which we seek to understand each other’s opinions. A culture that is about giving as well as receiving feedback.  

Gelato’s open feedback culture and transparent communication can be challenging for some, but if you aspire to become the best version of yourself, you will appreciate it.


Growing the apple tree

Change is propelled by accessing knowledge and experience.

No matter where we access the knowledge, where we find it, or who invented it. The amount of time we can save and the pain we can avoid feeds our curiosity to find the representatives of this knowledge and experience.

At Gelato, we have taken on the huge taskof building the world’s most intelligent production cloud. Bringing creativity to life - and into business. On this journey, time is one of scarcest and most valuable resources.

So, if you are to grow an apple tree, and since you probably never have grown one before, you should start by reading a summary written by “the world champion” in apple tree farming. You can probably save 200 years’ worth of effort.

We know we have.


Chapter 5

It’s not the big that eats the small; it’s the fast that eats the slow

Time is our scarcest resource

The feeling of comfort is often an illusion and a consequence of mediocre goals.  

If you want to change the world, you need to set your own rules. You need to accept being misunderstood for a long period of time.  

If our ambition is to rethink production at a global scale,  thereby empowering local communities to produce what they consume… we have a lot of work ahead of us! 

Making this world a bit of a better place takes time. In order to deliver on our vision, we therefore have to ‘bend’ the concept of time.  

To guide us after we set aggressive goals, we are guided by our ‘3Ds’. They are: Discipline, Details, and Deadlines. All three words sit at the heart of how we operate.  

With clear deadlines we naturally upgrade our discipline. We do our best work when we are in the moment and focused. With clear deadlines our focus is translated into discipline. Discipline completes plans. 

With deadlines combined with the necessary discipline, all the necessary details will surface. When we combine the 3Ds, we move fast. We tend to move faster than most other companies you have experienced or operated in.  

We know that time is our scarcest resource. Therefore, we need to work smart. We need to seek access to existing knowledge and experience. By not having to reinvent the wheel, we are able to move faster. We can scale faster.  

The speed we gain and the pain we avoid by connecting to the outside world continues to feed our curiosity. Our curiosity leads us to constantly seek and find the latest knowledge and connect to the most relevant and valuable experience. 


Rapid prototyping

Since the launch of Gelato in 2008, this industry has transformed into something completely different from when we embarked on this journey. What started out as ‘printing’ is today moving towards the on-demand production of most items you have in your home. We believe that the production technology will continue to evolve and that we in the future,
 will be able to offer the production and distribution of any product.  

Betting that rapid technological evolution will only accelerate is a core part of our strategy. It’s one of the most important business opportunities for Gelato. Why? Because we travel like nomadic people: light and fast. 

Also, since we are breaking new ground, much of what we thought the customers would love, they ended up ignoring.  Much of what we didn’t think the customers wanted, they ended up demanding. Many of the great business opportunities are yet to be realized. We need to travel light so that we can move quickly towards the growth opportunities our customers expect from us.  

With a product landscape that’s rapidly changing and evolving, it’s required from us that we constantly iterate through rapid prototyping and adaptation of new products,  services and innovations. 

Again: speed and agility sits at the heart of who we are.


The power of deadlines

We have already touched upon our 3Ds. But the importance of deadlines stands out. Here’s why. 

If you dread deadlines, you’re thinking about them all wrong. Deadlines are there so that you can prioritize effectively. Deadlines will help you navigate to the most important. Deadlines will naturally establish focus. Deadlines can make it easier for all of us to assess workload and link it to available resources. Deadlines will remove ‘fuzz’.  

Many teams and organizations feel good about their progress because they subjectively believe they are moving fast. That assessment of speed is an illusion. The outside world defines speed. 

When you’re not understanding what is happening around you – in Shanghai, in Mumbai, in São Paulo, in Tokyo, and in other important clusters around the world – you are easily fooled into believing that you’re much faster than you truly are. (Another reason why connecting to the outside world is so important.) 

In short, we always push to move faster and faster and with greater and greater accuracy.  

Conclusion: we are not the definition of speed of innovation. We are a consequence of it. 

Customers will always be eager to access better and more sustainable alternatives. Thus, operating under a strict time regime is necessary in order to earn the trust and loyalty of customers, the market, our investors – and ourselves. In the end, it’s the customer who decides on the winner.  

Deadlines that are clearly articulated have a funny way of instilling discipline and nurturing our ability to say no. Clear deadlines support the organization in building what doesn’t exist today. Clear deadlines make us complete things, not just start them. Clear deadlines make it evident to everyone involved that you can’t go for perfection. 

In the world of the innovator, perfection doesn’t exist. Deadlines help you see this.


Learning from our failures

Failure is the unavoidable companion of innovation.  

If you want to innovate, you must accept being misunderstood, often for a long period of time. When you fail, it’s sometimes to the amusement of the outside world. It’s not uncommon to hear, “I told you so”.  

Inside Gelato, however, failures are an important companion to our evolution. Failure equals valuable learning. The innovation coin has two sides: failure on one side but new solutions on the other. As Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” If you view failures with humility and seek to learn and improve from them, the failures of today will create the winners of tomorrow. 

We therefore dwell on our failures. We dive deep. We seek to understand the root causes and the solutions. In our failures we find some of our most valuable learnings. By approaching  failures with this perspective, the burden of realizing a sunk cost is easier to carry


Dont jump to hasty conclusions (its the world's most dangerous sport)

In a Blackberry board meeting, Mr Lazaridis, one of the co-founders, pointed towards a Blackberry phone with a  keyboard. "I get this," he said. "It's clearly differentiated."  Then he pointed to an iPhone with a touchscreen, saying, "I don't get this."  

Stay open, stay curious. Don’t fall into the trap of looking for evidence of your thesis or for people to confirm your point of view. A healthy distrust of our own ideas is often good,  questioning our own assumptions and realizing that we can sometimes be fatally wrong in our conclusions.  

In a world where objective truth is constantly under assault,  data combined with respect for other peoples’ and companies’ capabilities are important tools for helping us navigate.  

“The amount of evidence and its quality do not count for much, because poor evidence can make a very good story. For some of our most important beliefs we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold these beliefs.  Considering how little we know, the confidence we have in our beliefs is preposterous – and it is also essential.” 

Daniel Kahneman,

 Nobel Prize Winner, Author of Thinking, Fast and Slow 

”Here’s what the objective and validated data tells us…”
 is often a good start to a good conversation.  


Chapter 6


Focus is saying "no"

Over-commitment is one of those things that serves no purpose other than to steal your focus and ruin your productivity. But, for some inexplicable reason, we find ourselves continually committing our time and attention to new projects despite having schedules that are already bursting with action points and to-does.  

Overcommitting seems to be as natural of an instinct as blinking, and… that’s because it is. 

The excessive urge to please everyone around you, the desire to always say yes, comes from our innate (and many times unconscious) fear of conflict and disappointment that could result from declining to help and support others. 

Here are a few tips on your way of becoming a master 
 of focus: 

  1. “Focus is about saying no” – a simple quote from the late  Steve Jobs. In order to focus and be highly productive, you have to say no—and there’s no way around it.ˆ

  2.  High priority, high impact – If the extra tasks you’re thinking about taking on don’t meet these two criteria, it’s probably best to say no.ˆ 

  3. Reflect deeply upon your already existing obligations – Outline a realistic timeline for finishing what’s already on your list. Then, determine if you can add a new commitment. 

  4. There’s freedom in saying ‘no’ -- Be confident in what you’re already committed to doing.

In the end, it boils down to finding the right balance between our high ambitions while at the same time ensuring operational efficiency. This balance is necessary in order for us to successfully turn our vision into reality. Balancing our limited time, energy, and attention can only happen if we understand all our priorities. 


Your discipline establishes your balance

We do not intend to micromanage anyone’s life. However,  we’ve seen some common traits in the people who succeed in and enjoy working at Gelato.  

With high pressure and the constant expectations to deliver on agreed deadlines, being disciplined is important. You need to know how to prioritize. You need to know how to say ‘no’ to the unimportant details. With many hard-working team members and our bold vision, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed.  

Significant responsibilities coupled with a big workload is part of any team that’s set out to make its positive mark on the world we live in. In our case, we are drawn to Gelato because we are committed to building a tool that other human beings can use – no matter where they live on our planet. We have a deeply rooted passion for entrepreneurship. We are here because we love building.  

At the same time we are running a marathon, not a sprint. Every elite runner needs to disconnect, recharge, recuperate and rest. No matter how passionate you are. Like Eliud Kipchoge’s coach, Patrick Sang, has said about the marathon training camps in Kenya: 

“One thing comes through very strongly and that is that while they train pretty hard most of the time and certainly very  consistently when they are not training they really do relax. They enjoy each other’s company and they really know how to chill out.” 

It’s better to train at 90% effort for a long period than to overdo it and get injured or even burn out mentally. It isn’t necessarily the case that these great athletes are always training so much harder than the rest of us. They just train more sensibly.


How we communicate

Speed and efficiency are key in how we communicate. We constantly clear our inboxes and action items, and add whoever is necessary into conversations. 

Any time you spend thinking about which items in your inbox you should respond to next is a waste of time. It’s much better to clear out our action items every day.  

Zero mails in your inbox is ideal. If you do this well, then your inbox becomes a to-do list of only the complex issues –  things that require deeper thought.  


The three fundamentals of leadership in Gelato

There are three signs of great leadership and teamwork.

1. If you do not know – raise your hand and say, “I do not know.”

2. If you make a mistake – raise your hand. and say, “I am sorry, but I made a mistake.”

3. If you need help – raise your hand and say, “I need your help.”

It’s perfectly fine not to know something. No one expects you to know everything. If they do, then they need to be much more realistic in their expectation of people’s skills and knowledge. How you deal with lack of knowledge is what will define you. In our world, admitting you do not know is a sign of strength.

Apologizing is often considered embarrassing – a confession that you made a mistake. We disagree. Saying you’re sorry can save a huge amount of time and frustration and build momentum both inside our company as well as towards our customers.

Few of us enjoy asking for help. Research in neuroscience shows that asking for help activates the same brain regions that physical pain does. However, it’s virtually impossible to advance in modern organizations without assistance from others.


Chapter 7

Our brand, competitors and customers

Our brand

A brand is an idea that exists in the mind of a person. A brand is not something you make; it’s something you manage. Everything we do impacts the perception of our brand. It’s the sum of all our decisions, actions and interactions – from us as a company and from every member of our team. 

This is also why this text about our brand is part of this culture deck. Because what sits at the heart of who we are and how we do things is ultimately also the foundation of our brand. We are all part of building Gelato’s brand. That’s why we need to be mindful and sensible in everything we write, say and do.  

However, in the end, what affects the perception of our brand the most is the quality of our products and the service we give our customers. The customer’s opinion about a company and its products is the starting point of building a brand. Without exceptions. Marketing and ads echo emptily without great products and high-quality customer service. 

Our brand book covers how we define our brand, present our brand identity and manage our brand over time. Together, the culture deck and the brand book should give you the knowledge and tools needed to understand how we want  Gelato to be represented by us and understood by our customers.  


Competitors are needed to solve the market demand

We believe the greatest challenge is not keeping up with our competitors but with our own customers. Individuals are transforming to digital faster than organizations. Customer expectations are also changing faster. They are no longer based on industry boundaries. Customers don’t compare our customer service to that of our competitors, but to the best customer service they experience anywhere. 

Historically it used to be about getting customers to do what you wanted them to do. But customers don’t accept this anymore. Our customers don’t like to be told what to do. They want relationships based on reciprocity, transparency and authenticity. 

Therefore, we rarely speak about or focus on our competitors. Our experience tells us that focusing too much on what our competitors are doing can make us ‘chase after’  the wrong things. We take quick decisions in the hope of quick wins. It rarely works.  

We have our own vision. We need to craft our own innovation plans and future services. We focus on understanding our customers' needs. If anything, we take inspiration from other role model companies in completely different industries. That’s often where valuable and disruptive innovation happens. 

We are never speaking about our competitors in a  condescending way. Instead, we respect and seek to learn from them where possible. It helps that we do not believe in the zero-sum game: for someone to win, the others have
 to lose. 


Don't just listen to your customers; engage with them so you understand them

We end our culture deck with the most important thing. What brings us to dance and whose success is crucial for our ability to succeed: our customers. 

We should all be able to work as a Gelato customer service agent. Doing so makes it easier to understand our customers. We experience great joy in speaking with our customers. They make us better. That’s why we always put in the work and research needed to fully understand their needs and improve their experience.  

We never take any customer for granted. We pay great respect to every individual customer. News of a bad experience will spread quickly. Many companies have fallen from greatness and global domination because of mismanaged customer care.  


A long game with no finish line

This is the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine. The tree is deemed to be the oldest tree in existence. It can reach an age of over 5,000 years. How can a tree be so strong and resilient? Well, It often grows in a twisted fashion at high altitudes. Its big roots then support different sections of the tree. Its roots feed only the branches of the tree directly above them. 

Its unique architecture creates this resilience and endurance. The earth’s evolution and nature's innovation has turned this tree into the oldest tree alive.

It takes time to build a lasting company.  


Image appendix

Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia started a project to plant
 two million trees. 20 years later, the seeds have grown into a rich forest in Brazil.
 Big accomplishments can be achieved through small act of kindness


In the late 90s, Sugata Mitra made a hole in the wall of his office building in New Delhi. With only a computer screen and mousepad for use by local slum kids. A few months afterwards the children solved complicated physics and explained


The Gelato culture deck