Nero Ink

Matt Zito Website
Bridgeport, Chicago, Illinois
Services utilized:

Matt Zito learned the ins and outs of entrepreneurship at a young age from his father who owned a pizza restaurant in Skokie. Though his father’s pizzeria eventually had to close, Matt’s entrepreneurial dreams persisted. “I saw all the trials and tribulations he went through, and I said to myself ‘I’m never going to open a pizzeria,’ but I always had dreams of opening my own [print] shop,” said Matt. “I have a passion for the written word as well as art and publishing.”

Matt discovered his love for printing as a teenager. “In high school we published our own newspapers and I saw how powerful that was,” said Matt. From there, he went to College of DuPage and received an Associates of Science in Print Production. After graduation, Matt continued his career working in direct mail.

In 2021, Matt and his father founded Nero Ink, a full-service print shop located in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. Nero Ink specializes in offset lithography and digital printing for softcover books, magazines, flyers, posters, and more. They have recently begun offering mailing fulfillment after receiving their USPS Bulk Mail Permit. “We are very supportive of the First Amendment. We want people to use us to express themselves in whichever way shape or form they want,” said Matt. “A lot of the knowledge that we can pass on to one another gets lost in the void, so by putting it in print, we preserve it.”

In 2022, Nero Ink received an A4CB small business loan, which they used to purchase a Heidelberg GTO 4 color offset press. “Being a new player in a highly technological industry requires a lot of capital,” said Matt.

Nero Ink also strives to create more opportunities for freedom of expression in the community. “I want humanity to thrive, and I think that the best way we can do that is through art education, literacy, and accessibility for communities on the South and West Sides, as well as marginalized groups to be able to publish their own words,” said Matt. Nero Ink has worked with small businesses, artists and cultural nonprofits, independent publishers, progressive organizations, and self-published authors.

Three years into business, Matt is also looking to expand Nero Ink’s services, including launching new products. Addio is a new website, developed by Nero Ink, that families can use to create print-ready memorial booklets. Nero Ink is also currently beta testing The Zine Machine, a web-to-print technology that automatically renders websites into magazines.

Nero Ink also creates opportunities in the community through employment. “We want to support people in print who don’t traditionally have access to it,” said Matt. “The offerings of most community college technical programs and trade schools have been diminishing. There’s now a crisis of skilled workers in the industry.” Through a partnership with the non-profit National Able Network, Matt provides paid on-the-job training for the next generation of skilled tradespeople.

Nero Ink was originally conceived as a worker cooperative but chose to form an LLC as a first step. “Most cooperative print shops fail, so we started out as an LLC to first nail down the fundamentals of the business,” said Matt. “Having a team of people who are competent, who care, and are invested I think is the best way forward.”