We talked to Andreas Michalski, CEO of CI HUB GmbH, about one access to the digital asset ecosystem and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andreas Michalski: We are doing reasonably well. We are very fortunate to have space at home to work in separate areas of the house, and we have a dog. So we still are allowed to leave home quite often. Not everybody has the same luck. Until now, we can be considered to be not affected too much, even if we miss seeing friends and family and enjoying lunch or dinner in one of our favorite restaurants. But…we are very optimistic that this will return in 2021.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded CI HUB.
Andreas Michalski: This was an exciting ride. I started early. I was 19 when I had the chance to start in a computer store. I started to develop workflow solutions based on Lotus Notes, long before it became an IBM Company. And then, we used workflows to automate Graphic Workflow and Label Creation processes. This was so cool. We use 14.400-bit Modems to connect Lotus notes to global Artwork studios before the Internet came on. And all of this lead to a company helping some of the largest global companies to automate Marketing creation and help 80,000 Apple Partners to create their Marketing material without using an Agency. We are talking about 9 digit savings.
After some years, I sold the company to a French Digital Asset Management company. I took some unique talents from the past and created CI HUB to disrupt traditional manual Artwork processes by Automation. And this journey is still so much fun.
How does CI HUB innovate?
Andreas Michalski: CI HUB is changing the way how creatives and sales/Marketing teams access their assets. Assets are everything you need in a Marketing operation. Pictures, Graphics, Text, Layout incl, videos, and animations. We help people to have everything they need in one place and in the tool where they need it. This allows Adobe InDesign, Photoshop or After Effects, or Microsoft Powerpoint users to save hours a week and safeguard their work. Our Cloud economy has delivered new Cloud Storage systems every week. Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Sharepoint, Adobe Stock, and much more, including Creative needs to access them daily. We make this so easy that people love it. And CI HUB Connector is the beginning of AI-driven automation and lots of helpful services. That’s today a billion-dollar market of manual work done by agencies. This will be replaced by CI HUB Platform services.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Andreas Michalski: The C19 had a positive effect on our business. The CI HUB Connector for Adobe and Microsoft products is an essential part of enabling Agencies and Corporates to make Marketing Assets available. In the home office. We foster collaboration in creative teams, and we are a driver of new creative remote working environments. So C19 was a massive driver in driving traditional working habits to a more open and independent location model.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Andreas Michalski: No, we are in the fortunate situation that we did not need difficult decisions. It is the opposite, we grew our team, and we gained new users and customers. However, we saw partners that had to make hard decisions, and some of them are struggling. But we see that C19 is more of an opportunity than it is a risk. It has changed much of our workalike, and it will never change back. So this creates tremendous chances.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Andreas Michalski: Teamwork, Transparency, and fast decisions. Tools that already worked on all past crises. Plus, we love Slack, Skype, and Zoom. These tools have already saved us 7 tons of CO2, hours on the plane, and many nights in a hotel. I had the chance to use all of this new time with family, and this was amazing. I love it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andreas Michalski: In the space of “Marketing Asset Connectors” that’s how we call it, we have some hundreds of competitors, it’s not really a lot. Mainly as we deliver a definite value proposition. But in the end, it is simple: Innovate and listen to what your customer and partners want. We are very focused on this. We had to understand that we are not building “our “product. We make the user’s product. So we listen, and we try to innovate as fast as we can. This gives us a unique position.
Your final thoughts
Andreas Michalski: Take your chance. There is one every day. And try not to get too comfortable…