Entrepreneur’s Diary #5 – The USP – Example Number 5: InterFace AG

USP1At long last, I now want to write about the final example in my selection of USPs – my own company. So this is about the USP of InterFace AG. For a better understanding of the situation, here are a few facts about InterFace AG, which until 1989 was named InterFace Connection GmbH.

In the 1980ies and early 1990ies, the metaphors of our success were UNIX and CLOU/HIT. Our text system on UNIX named HIT, along with the ingenious 4GL CLOU for document processing were unique and breathtakingly successful.

We were the first who offered an “embedded SQL interface” that included dynamic quests to databases while its components were running, and the results could even be written back directly. In those days, SQL had only just been invented and Hans Strack-Zimmermann (the Enterpreneur of SINIX inside Siemens AG) had just persuaded our American friends at RDS (Relational Database Systems – later Informix) to include the first SQL interface in their product Informix.

USP2That was really something special, and we were mightily proud of our huge success with HIT/CLOU. In those days, we did not know the meaning of the word USP, nor that of “elevator speech”.  But in our situation, that would only have been a hindrance.

Our business plan was just a simple budget plan with the modest aim of always earning more than we spent. We never made forward calculations about how much we would produce in the next three years, or how much we would have to invest into HIT/CLOU during that time.

USP3What is worse: if we had started wondering about these things, we would never have gone ahead with the plan. Had I known then what I know now about business (?), I would have taken a drastically negative approach and tried to talk InterFace Connection out of such a silly idea as developing a product in 1984…

On the other hand, I know the history of many enterprises first-hand. SAP, for instance, would never have been founded if the fathers of SAP had started wondering about USP and business plans too early.

USP4Instead, the three developed a kind of ERP software for a pharmaceutical enterprise during the initial stages of their entrepreneurship. A good friend of mine was managing director in that pharmaceutical enterprise. The special deal was that they were permitted to use the then incredibly expensive computing time of the enterprise for free during their leisure time in order to implement their ideas. This is how the first groundwork for SAPs success was laid … and it sounds almost like modern “collaboration”, doesn’t it?

Well, back to the USP of InterFace. We went on from being a producer to providing service. I would love to have an USP that makes us invincible and irreplaceable on the market. One that protects us against being potential blackmail victims as “David” by the “Goliaths” out there.

USP5We are proud of what we are good at: we have a good grasp of storage and virtualization. We also have plenty of experience in IT processes and project management. Our teams generate excellent solutions with JAVA. Once in a while, we have to work real wonders in a short time – which we manage by using agile programming and methods like SCRUM. And then there is the enthusiasm all our employees have in huge quantities.

We try to give the best we can. Yet, we also know that there are others who are not bad, either. Thus, we learned to accept that – in the long run – our USP cannot be merely technical. The USP of InterFace is the higher value our customers get from us. And that is something our employees do not only provide on the technical level, because the technical problems are often easier to solve than the human ones.
Maybe that is what makes InterFace special. And it is our greatest pleasure to hear our customers telling us that we are a very special firm in that respect. That is my most beautiful USP.
(Translated by EG)

The next article will be a summary on the USP, before I will write a little bit about “elevator speech.” After that, there are a few more topics I feel strongly about, such as:
– Who exactly can be called “an entrepreneur”?    
- What is an “ethical” enterprise?

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