Meet Olaf Kehrer, Managing Director of O&O Software
FileCritic Interview: Meet the Vendors
O&O Software is well known for its products O&O DiskRecovery and O&O Defrag, which started in the first version already 1998.
The name of the company is composed by the initial letters of the two founders Olaf Kehrer and Oliver Falkenthal.
The duo already started working together in 1991 with initiating the predecessor company, called O&O Systemtechnik GbR.
Within the scope of the MVP interviews, we talked to Olaf Kehrer, Managing Director of O&O Software – about the beginnings 25 years ago, the importance of listening to the customers and the great city Berlin.
First things first, let’s talk about your person! What has been your personal career path, when and why did you decide to found O&O Software?
After finishing my studies in Computer Sciences at the Technical University Berlin, Oliver Falkenthal and I decided to found a company for creating software solutions. As we’d been conducting business together while studying since 1991, there were already some customers to start off.
When O&O began, the number of potential customers was quite small. When was your breakthrough and which of your products was responsible for this?
We were focused on developing tailored software and one day, a friend of Oliver’s came up with the idea of creating a defragmentation solution for Windows NT 4. There were only two companies out there making such a product at the time and both were from the U.S., so we threw our hat into the ring and gave it a try. The first version was released in 1998 and a year later became such a best-seller that we re-focused on developing tools for Windows.
The software market is dynamic and changes nearly every year. In your opinion, what has changed regarding the demands on the program, and what does this mean for developers?
You have to listen to your customers. This is not just something that matters since the arrival of social media, it was always true. What has changed is that customers can now make up their minds about your products and company before you even know it. They can visit websites, where they read reviews about your company and its products and services, and you have almost no influence on what they see. This means. that you have to deliver a rock-solid product that meets a customer’s demands. If not, you are doomed.
The market for hardware changes as well, which is important for your products: More and more SSDs are in use and are installed directly on PCs by manufacturers. What does that mean for your O&O Defrag and O&O DiskRecovery programs? Obviously there is still a huge demand by the consumers of Software….
Data loss, data security, and system performance are still everyday problems for our customers. They might change a bit, so we have to change our products accordingly.
What are the main differences between the former O&O DiskRecovery 10 and the new Version 11?
Version 11 supports Windows 10 natively and has been certified as compatible. When using the Admin Edition, you can now create bootable media (i.e. DVD or USB thumb drive) to recover data from any PC or server within your organization. The new Tech Edition also enables this to be done on your clients’ machines, thus acting as a service license.
O&O is producing its own software, but there are also other successful players doing their own thing. What’s the software or app you are using the most and why?
Microsoft Outlook. It orchestrates my daily communication with our teams, our customers, and our partners. Without it, I would be lost. 🙂
Is there any chance for existing or potential users to meet with your company personally? Will O&O be exhibiting at any events over the coming months?
We always listen to our customers. This feedback is extremely useful when deciding whether to add (or remove) features to our products and services. As a result, most of the feedback we receive gets reviewed by me personally. And if there’s any need for further discussion, I will contact the customer personally. To meet us in person, our team is present at most important trade fairs such as MWC in Barcelona and CeBIT in Hannover.
Are there any plans and future changes you can share to give our readers an idea of where O&O Software will be in a few years’ time? Are you going to develop solutions for mobile devices or are there any new features you can tell us about?
We are in the cloud. We invested and are still investing a lot of money in our R&D, and have already landed our first cloud solution, “O&O Syspectr”, as an IT monitoring tool for SMBs. We’re currently working on additional research projects together with partners and universities around the globe to create new products for a better, faster, and more secure cloud storage experience.
You’re based in Berlin! What would you recommend visitors or business partners to see when they’re in the city? After all, it’s a historically important place…
I am a born Berliner so I think there’s a lot of places that are a must. You can always take a classical sight-seeing tour, but to feel the spirit of this city, plan a week-long stay and visit the Berlin Zoo, do some shopping on the Ku’damm (avoid the malls, if possible, since they all look the same), relax in the Berlin Tiergarten, and check out the night life in Kreuzberg, especially the Bergmannstraße.
For people with only a few hours or a day, take the Bus 100 from Bahnhof Zoo Central Station. For less than 3 Euros, you can see a major slice of the city from West to East, passing the Bundeskanzleramt and finish your tour in the very nice Nicolai Quarter, right in the heart of Berlin. This will give you a very good impression and a lot of nice pictures. By the way, if you accidently delete the pictures from your digital camera or smartphone, connect it to your PC and O&O DiskRecovery will help you out. 😉
The software business always seems to involve hustle and bustle. What’s your private compensation for balancing work and life?
My family and my friends. But actually, I don’t need any balance because I’m lucky to have made my hobby into my job.
So finally, how would you convince a friend, in two sentences, to use your O&O DiskRecovery instead of some no-name tool?
There’s a free trial version that will show you whatever can be recovered. See for yourself and decide.