AN INTERVIEW WITH OUR MANAGEMENT
The editorial team of C3 has taken the launch of the newsroom as an occasion to conducting an interview with the managing partners and let the previous year pass in review.
Editorial Team: If you look back on the past year, how content are you with the development of C3 and what has happened since then?
[Rudolf Knittelfelder] We’ve almost reached all of our goals and I have to say that I’m pretty satisfied with its development. We thought a lot of things would be much easier – every single day brings new challenges. But we also have to say that we’ve started from scratch with our vision of the “Next Generation Customer Loyalty”. What makes me most happy is that our team is being passionate about their work and engaged with great enthusiasm.
[Markus Hendrich] I’m very pleased too. After a little more than a year, we’ve set up a company with a team of more than 30 highly motivated employees who have grown together as a great and powerful team. Out of our idea grew an excellent concept that is very well received by stakeholders.
[Richard Kirschbaum] I totally agree. We can be very proud, especially of having found a creative and dynamic team of employees who can master future requirements. Initially, we’ve underestimated how long different processes for complex products take. But I think we’re set up very well.
[Mathias Vorbach] It’s been a year already!? (laughs) I can only agree with my colleagues – particularly regarding the crew. We’re all very proud of what we’ve managed to develop together in all this time. We’re at the threshold of our first market roll-out now – that’s our next step.
After a little more than a year, we’ve set up a company with a team of more than 30 highly motivated employees who have grown together as a great and powerful team.
Editorial Team: Why did you choose a small municipality as location for your company?
[Mathias Vorbach] (laughs) As a native from Cologne, that’s exactly what I asked myself in the beginning.
[Markus Hendrich] It was by chance. We needed a quiet place to develop our idea.
[Rudolf Knittelfelder] That’s true, and I could luckily provide our former food store. It gradually turned into our office of approximately 300m2 in the beginning. As a result of the continuous increase in the number of employees, we’re currently expanding all areas to 700m2. In addition, we’re situated in the midst of the Styrian so-called “Apple Street” – an “Apple Valley” if you want. (laughs) All our cooperation partners are positively surprised by the beautiful surroundings of our workplace.
[Richard Kirschbaum] As the idea – especially in the beginning – is much more important than the place of where the ideas are born and realised, we followed those founders who also started their business in their garages. Also, there were a lot of qualified employees available in the nearby regions.
[Markus Hendrich] Admittedly, persuading new employees to come to Markt Hartmannsdorf will be challenging in the future. After all, it’s not your typical place to start a business. However, we see it as a chance to offer highly qualified jobs in a wonderful place with a high quality of life.
It’s crucial to us to combine interesting information with blog-like contents and news to literally do “storytelling”, and we’re very much looking forward to telling interesting stories.
Editorial Team: What’s behind the concept of the newsroom?
[Rudolf Knittelfelder] If our marketing expert Mathias doesn’t know, who does? (laughs)
[Mathias Vorbach] We want to create a modern and lively communication as an integral part of our online strategy. A corporate newsroom provides this very opportunity – at a much faster speed and a broader reach across all digital channels.
[Markus Hendrich] Exactly. Our business partners, journalists, simply all interested parties, should find a well-arranged platform allowing them to quickly access relevant information about our company.
[Mathias Vorbach] “Interesting platform” is an important keyword: We position ourselves as experts at internal companies with our know-how. It’s no longer sufficient to provide some sort of information and contacts on a static page. It’s crucial to us to combine interesting information with blog-like contents and news to literally do “storytelling”, and we’re very much looking forward to telling interesting stories.
We’re adopting an innovative and unique approach with which we want to significantly increase our partners’ sales and profits and strengthen their market position.
Editorial Team: C3 is investing a lot of money and know-how in the development of an innovative data warehouse. Why do you think, the added value for the future of our partners lies precisely in the data warehouse?
[Rudolf Knittelfelder] Everyone is talking about big data and every company is collecting data. The secret lies in the meaningful use of this data. But how can I create added value for participating retail partners and their customers? We’re adopting an innovative and unique approach with which we want to significantly increase our partners’ sales and profits and strengthen their market position.
[Mathias Vorbach] We know that even large companies fail to analyse big data and to draw the right conclusions from them. That’s what we keep hearing in all of our conversations. From the retailers point of view, a loyalty programme of the “next generation” is not only expected to be able to provide all relevant analyses, it should also reach customers based on their individual needs – across several sectors. Individual companies lack this capability, and that’s why our data warehouse will be an essential added value for every retail partner.
[Richard Kirschbaum] You might say we’re the glasses that help retail partners see customers more clearly, and thus help them deliver tailored offers directly to customers at the right time.
[Markus Hendrich] Despite all innovation, it’s also important for us to emphasise data protection and data security. We fulfil the highest standards in all areas – also internationally. All data protection matters are reviewed, assessed and managed by the Austrian regulatory body for data protection [note: ARGE Daten]. In addition, our applications are already today based on the new EU data protection regulation, which is due to be enacted by 2018.
[Mathias Vorbach] This is a particularly crucial point – also relating to our brand. We’ll only be able to create confidence for our programme if the anonymity of consumers’ data is guaranteed. Thus, we’ll communicate openly and transparently about how and why we’re using data.
Editorial Team: For several months, we have now worked on the development of an international brand for our loyalty programme together with our advertising agency TBWAWien. What can we/the readers and customers expect?
[Rudolf Knittelfelder] That’s gonna be a surprise… “with a smile”. (laughs)
[Mathias Vorbach] And what a smile! (laughs) If we could we would make everything public now but we’re deliberately presenting our “baby” only to companies that we’re trying to gain for our programme. We aim at establishing an international brand that is unique amongst loyalty cards and programmes and have established a successful basis with our word & figurative mark and the look & feel of our brand. Readers of the newsroom still have to be patient. (smiles)
[Markus Hendrich] It’s really hard for us to not go public but we’re therefore all the more pleased when we finally can.
Editorial Team: We were able to win well-known investors and advisory board members for our company. Why does the advisory board play such an important role for C3?
[Richard Kirschbaum] Each personality has exceptional expertise in their relevant economic and business areas and a strong network of partners that we can reach out to thanks to the advisory board’s support, helping to open doors for us.
[Rudolf Knittelfelder] That’s also very important for our credibility. After all, we’re a start-up in conversations with companies of international reputation. Thus, we’re very happy to have such personalities as Mr van der Graaf, Mr Schwarz-Schilling, Mr Markwort and Mr Taner at our side who share our ideas and our passion.
[Markus Hendrich] I can endorse everything. Almost all advisory members are investors as well. This combination makes working together in all areas much easier and more valuable.
[Mathias Vorbach] Personalities such as Helmut Markwort or Dr. Schwarz-Schilling are not only proven experts in their relevant fields, they’re without a doubt part of our current history – beyond the German-speaking area. We’re all very proud to have convinced them of our concept.
Each personality has exceptional expertise in their relevant economic and business areas and a strong network of partners that we can reach out to thanks to the advisory board’s support, helping to open doors for us.
Editorial Team: Which particular challenges are you looking forward to?
[Rudolf Knittelfelder] We’re doing “people business”, so I’m looking forward to working together with different people and characters from different countries and cultures.
[Markus Hendrich] For me personally, the establishment of our foundation would be the most joyful challenge that I’m looking forward to impatiently.
[Richard Kirschbaum] Managing several subsidiaries. I guess we’ll have to extend our back office a bit. (laughs)
[Mathias Vorbach] To make a second “Silicon Valley” of “Apple Valley”. (laughs)
Editorial Team: When we meet again in a year. Where would C3 be then?
[Rudolf Knittelfelder] Still at the beginning of a great story. We’d be present in the first markets, celebrate our successful launch with our team and we’d be proud of the results of one and a half years work and of all our efforts put into developing the company. We’d still be a highly motivated troop, acting as a magnet for those who want to start a chapter in customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.
[Markus Hendrich] We’ll have opened the first two subsidiaries, and our customer loyalty programme will be rolled out successfully in these two countries by then. Our foundation will have been founded and our first project, the support of FSHD research, will have been started.
[Richard Kirschbaum] The number of employees exceeds the 100 mark and we’re in the middle of launch preparations of countries number three and four.
[Mathias Vorbach] We’re celebrating awards for our advertising campaigns – and that of course means that we’ll have launched our brand in the opened markets successfully.