Meet Ashampoo’s Head of Sales & Marketing, Henning Seedorf
FileCritic Interview: Meet the Vendors
Germany-based software manufacturer Ashampoo has gradually morphed into a global player over the course of the last few years.
With programs such as the Burning Studio or the WinOptimizer, the company is now represented on many important markets.
Henning Seedorf has been the head of Ashampoo’s Sales and Marketing Department since 2011 and, in that time, has significantly spurred on development.
First things first, let’s talk about you! What has been your personal career path, and how did you end up at Ashampoo?
I initially completed my training as an IT system salesman at a small mid-market company. My trainer dumped a thick Delphi book on the table in front of me, and I had to start programming from scratch – without ever having done so before.
And talking to your colleagues was forbidden there, so that you weren’t distracted from your work … But, in those 3 years, I learnt to program modules for a merchandise management system and CRM software, among other things.
That was really good for my personal development, and it ensured that I developed permanent self-motivation, which drives me in my day to day work even today. After my training I was looking for something big, and found a job advert for a software tester at Ashampoo. Ashampoo was familiar to me – I had their media player on my PC, after all ….
I found out more on the website and via user comments on download portals, and then applied for the position. After the first interview I was invited back and then hired. I was particularly impressed by the fact that the first interview was with my future colleagues, who then said positive things about me to management. Now, I’ve been at Ashampoo for 10 years.
I started as a software tester, took over the management of quality assurance a year later, and then hired two more colleagues in this area. In the course of working in that position, I kept noticing that I could optimise a great deal in terms of processes and that there was a lot of demand – but that had more to do with marketing, so I became the Head of Online Marketing. There, I won big partners such as Microsoft, and ultimately took on the position of Director of Sales & Marketing.
Every beginning is hard, as the old adage says, and Ashampoo was not nearly as successful right off the bat as it is today. Which product represented your breakthrough and why?
Our big break came relatively early when we released an MP3/CD ripping programme in 2000 in the form of “Audio CD MP3 Studio 2000”, and distributed the software on portals such as Download.com.
People liked the look & feel and the easy handling of our software. At the time, we set up a banner on a file sharing client, which worked so well that our servers were brought to their knees by the traffic. And so it went – we released more and more new programs for almost every niche: burning, tweaking, Windows tuning, image editing, etc.
We wanted to provide users with software which made difficult, complicated things easy…and we succeeded. Another success factor was that we distributed the pre-version of current software to PC magazines for free. This meant that the magazines had access to high-quality software, which was normally fee-based, which they could make available to their readers, and we had more publicity. Because the software had to be registered via e-mail address, we were able to sell upgrades for each new version very effectively…we were the first to do so and keep it that way, and we’re still successful with this strategy to this day.
The software market is one of the most dynamic of all. In your opinion, what has changed regarding the demands on the program, and what does this mean for developers?
It is particularly important to put yourself in the customer’s shoes – most developers can’t do that, nor do they need to, though this requires more interaction between departments. A user journey has to take place. The program must win the user over, because you almost never get a second chance. Good first impressions are vital, just as much as the results that the program achieves for the customer.
It is also crucial to evaluate customer surveys or comments on social media and blogs. Blog comments help to better understand and serve requirements, as do discussions with editors. As the market is constantly changing, we’re getting involved everywhere. This also includes apps and connecting our software to all customer devices. In addition, we are further expanding the B2B sector, and in future will also provide developers with knowledge directly through a new Ashampoo company; in 16 years we have developed many technologies which are normal for us – but could greatly relieve the workload of other developers and companies.
By taking part in fairs and networking events around the world, among others like e-commerce providers such as CleverBridge, a friendly, family relationship to manufacturers like WinRAR, Malwarebytes, SPAMfighter, Avira and many other well-known companies has developed, from which one can learn from the other for mutual benefit.
One of Ashampoo’s showcase products is the Burning Studio. How do you see the future of burning and what role do special formats such as M-Disc play?
I think that even in 10 years, there will still be lots of people who will want to archive their data on M-Discs. We also serve those who are sceptical toward the fast-paced technology market. The world of technology moves extremely quickly, and not everyone wants to keep up with it, particularly when this means that the more comfortably you want to work with technology, the more you have to forego your private sphere…
Not everyone wants to save photos, documents etc. in a Cloud without knowing who will ultimately see this data. The M-Disc is an important alternative due to its longevity, and you could even lock it in a safe. That way you know that no third party can readily access sensitive data, and you can feel secure.
Last but not least: how do you balance a demanding work life in the software sector? Athletic pursuits, entertainment, games, family?
I’ve been a motorbike fanatic since I was a child, and I now have five motorbikes. Weather permitting, I like to like to ride the Harley to work, or the racing motorcycle if I need an extra boost – that balances me out. I exercise almost every afternoon, which energises me for the second half of the day – achieving my athletic goals allows me to funnel that motivation back into my work. My family and friends, and also fishing, let me relax.