My Week: Marcelo Bustamante of Amstore

Tech entrepreneur Marcelo Bustamante takes time out from his honeymoon to talk innovation, doing business with China, and, of course, being a workaholic.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Yes, I’m on my honeymoon. No, I’m not a workaholic. Well, maybe I am. I just like to know that my team and my customers can contact me at any time. It doesn’t matter if I’m at the top of a mountain, on a beach, or at the altar. Not really. I turned off my phone for a whole hour during the wedding. But only because I promised my wife.

When you’re in a fast-paced, time sensitive industry like digital media, you’ve got to be switched on all the time. I start my day at 5 or 6am talking to our partners in China, checking that our latest consignment of LCD screens is going to arrive on time, that sort of thing. During the day, I’m on call for my sales team to ask any questions or raise any issues. In the evening, I’m talking to my customers in the US. Americans like to talk, and there’s always a new enquiry or order update.

Amstore has been going ten years now. We manufacture all kinds of digital promotional media, everything from CD or DVD boxes to bespoke USB sticks – shaped like a car or a shoe or whatever the client requires. And now I’ve just perfected our latest innovation; it’s called the Videopak. This is basically a new way to send video. The Videopak has an LCD screen embedded in a card or promotional product and a video starts playing as soon as the product is opened – and it comes with audio too.

We are the first company in the world to produce a product like this, and being a pioneer is always tough. We had months of slipping on banana skins before we got the technology just right. And now that we’ve perfected it, other people are starting to copy us, so we have to keep innovating all the time to keep our lead in the market.

Two things comfort me about the fact that copycats are emerging, however. Firstly, it means that I’m doing something right. It’s an honour to be copied. And second, you can really see the time and effort that’s gone into our products compared to the cheap knock-offs. We get the raw materials in China, but we design and assemble here in the UK, and the difference in quality compared with the products finished in Asia is huge.

You’d think that after launching the Videopak, I’d take a breather, but that’s just not me. I’ve got a brand new product launching next week. A high tech promotional box that houses a product like a trainer or even a tin of pet food and displays information about it on a transparent digital screen. It’s very Minority Report.

Which reminds me: next week’s going to be incredibly hectic with the launch, so I’d better get on with enjoying my honeymoon.

My phone’s still on, though…

Find out more about Amstore

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