The history of HighPots begins in 1984 with the foundation of an honorary association for student tutoring in South Germany. Initiator was Mr. Dr. Schuster, a math and physics teacher, who wanted to offer a free tutoring opportunity for the children of financially weaker families.
The association was a success. The number of members increased, the association was able to book donations and rented an older building, which was renovated together.
The association changed from a pure pupil tutoring to a social meeting place for pupils of several schools. The number of pupils increased as did the number of teachers, – on certain days parents joined in and helped to accompany projects.
The pupils prepared themselves for the radio amateur examination, took part in youth research projects, obtained navigation licences, learnt how to fly a glider or got involved in model making or software development.
During the holidays, many students worked at Daimler, Porsche, IBM or HP and often earned an extra income through ideas in the areas of production, quality improvement or process optimization.
At that time, established terms such as “idea management” or “innovation development” did not exist. There was the company suggestion system in the form of letterboxes on the walls, in which suggestions for improvement, sketched on a piece of paper, were thrown in. “At that time, “innovations” were called “inventions” and the associated profession was “inventor” and not “innovator”.
The originally founded tutoring club developed into an inventor’s shop. The pupils grew older and assumed more and more responsibility, initiated and organised the tutoring groups of the younger pupils as well as the occupancy of the rooms and the PC workstations.
In the 90s, the older pupils took their A-levels and went to university. At that time, the situation in mechanical engineering and the automotive industry was not particularly good, and Germany was increasingly changing from a production society to an information society.
The parents reduced the association’s commitment, – concentrated on their own further training measures and intensified their efforts in the workplace.
At that time, the association fell into a deep sleep.
In 2005 Kara, a member of the club from the old days, breathed new life into the club. Kara started her career after studying law at the public prosecutor’s office. She focused on patent law, left the public prosecutor’s office after 5 years and became in-house counsel for patent prosecution at Daimler. Only now did Kara understand how far the association had come with its ideas 10 years earlier. In the automotive industry, ideas and inventions were acclaimed that the association had already had many years before.
Recruitment of the basic crew
After Kara decided to wake the club from its deep sleep, Kara first called Nilay. Nilay, also a committed member of the association at the end of the 1980s, worked for the Boston Consulting Group as a strategy consultant M&A after studying economics. Kara convinced Nilay – the two met for the first time in many years at Frankfurt Airport to plan the next steps.
“IT is not everything, but without IT everything is nothing” – this awareness was the reason for the call to Thomas Kull (also called “Krulli”), who headed a software development department at IBM after his studies in computer science and his doctorate. Thomas was quickly enthusiastic about the idea and from now on was involved.
Last but not least, a natural scientist should be on board, who should have the big picture in mind and also design and build the prototypes, consisting of hardware and software.
Shortly after 20 o’clock the telephone rang at Rüdiger. As a quantum physicist and specialist for artificial intelligence, he was already researching McCulloch-Pitts cells and later Hopfield networks as a pupil and student. When the phone rang, he just left the KNCS Institute of the MIT.
Rüdiger was not taken with the idea. He was of the opinion that the most important competence would not lie in the development of the ideas or a prototype, but in identifying the right time for a certain idea – he denied this competence throughout Germany in the field of digitisation.
He also drew attention to the increasing importance of digital marketing; “Technological progress may have been crucial in the 1980s, but today companies that make it possible for as many people as possible to learn about progress and gain access to it – and that requires a lot of capital”.
Kara, Nilay and Thomas wrested Rüdiger despite his reservations 4 hours per week association commitment.
In the further process many “sleeping” club members and former members were reactivated. By 2010 the number of members had risen to over 2,500, of whom about 500 were active colleagues (more than 10 hours/week). Thus, more than 20,000 hours per month of volunteer personnel resources were available. The association carried out F&E and research assignments for municipalities, cities and industry in the conurbation of the central Neckar.
All income was invested in the equipment of the association (laboratory equipment, IT, licenses, etc.) as well as in the tutoring and school projects. The association also donated large amounts to educational institutes and other non-profit organizations.
In addition to the Fraunhofer Institute, the association developed into an important regional institution for the economy.
The year 2010 was not only negative because the political Agenda 2010 pushed through by the “social” SPD proved that citizens have to pay for a welfare state but are not allowed to make use of it.
In 2010, the postman brought the association a service of process from the court. The tax authorities complained that the purpose of the association had not been achieved and that millions of euros in tax arrears had been paid.
The association found itself unfairly deplored, rejected the settlement offer of the tax authorities and sought a legal process.
In 2011, a verdict was reached in the final instance. The court awarded justice to the tax authorities in the first point, misconduct of the association’s purpose, and ordered the closure of the association. The association was acquitted of the second point, tax evasion in the millions.
After the judgement, there was a long discussion as to whether a new association with new statutes should be founded or possibly also a non-profit company.
The lawyers had advised against the establishment of a non-profit organization, regardless of the type of company. The danger of being involved in a similar case again would be too high.
The basic crew, consisting of Kara, Nilay, Thomas and Rüdiger, agreed to found a classic company.
But it was unclear which of the association’s former corporate customers would also be open to an economic organization. Would the companies go along with this change? What income can be expected and how can expenses be kept low?
Which mantra should the new company have and which company name suits the mantra still to be defined?
Which type of company offers the highest financial flexibility with calculable liability at the same time?
mission and mantra
The new company should not significantly change its portfolio compared to the former association. The companies that had commissioned the association’s services should therefore be easier to re-acquire.
Nevertheless, the new company, with its lower personnel resource strength, was not able to map all of the association’s services.
Therefore, on the one hand, it was determined which products and services the companies had most frequently ordered from the association.
Secondly, it was determined where the markets were likely to develop in the future.
The last step was to identify the skills and passions of the available human and material resources via SWOT analysis.
The results were clear.
The mission is to maintain the marketing and sales interfaces between European companies and end customers in the context of digital transformation.
The new company will be…
- …to deal with the exploration of man in his role as consumer. The Big 5 and their subgroups should serve as scientific guidelines (conscientiousness, openness to new experiences, extraversion/intraversion, tolerability, neuroticism). The results will serve the precise dynamic and automated allocation of consumers to target groups.
- …to research methods for building and expanding as well as for measuring trust between companies and consumers.
- …to achieve the goals of high technology (artificial neural networks, visual intelligence, machine learning, etc.).
- …to develop profound mathematical know-how in the field of stochastics and statistical methods for mass data analysis.
- …to collaborate with strong research partners to achieve fast product and service development cycles.
Other secondary results were:
- Exclusive B2B Orientation.
- Focus on B2C industries (automotive, travel, energy, pharmaceuticals & medical, insurance and banking)
The developed mantra is:
“Digital Customer Centring & Data-Based Marketing”
Due to our extensive personnel selection procedures and demanding assessment centers, even for former club members, the new company has had personnel with above-average qualifications from the very beginning.
For this reason the name fell on HighPots, – an acronym for “High Potentials“.
HighPots – the logo
All HighPots employees were allowed to submit suggestions for the company logo.
Due to the strong focus on digitization, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the logo was chosen to be a neuron.
Based on our corporate philosophy that the biological human life form should always have the last word compared to the artificial life form, we sketched an artificial neural network as a smaller component within a biological neuron in the logo.
2011 to 2016
From 2011 to 2016, HighPots helped many marketing and sales departments across different companies increase sales.
The intelligent, automated and precise allocation of consumers to exact target groups in real time has proven to be worthwhile for our corporate customers.
Similarly, our developed KPI systems for industry-oriented trust measurement between consumers and B2C companies have become an important tool for our customers.
Since 2011, HighPots has been researching general and sector-based consumer behavior. We have divided these behaviors into numerous parameters. We record the behaviour of consumers, analyse it and assign the consumer with high accuracy to one or more target groups.
We then play out trust elements and measure the resulting trust. We have also developed KPIs for this purpose.
If the trust between the company and the consumer is high enough and the consumer’s interest in a product or service is sufficient, offers are played out.
The mapping of psychological and sociological consumer-related aspects in software offers great advantages for B2C companies.
Concrete developments of HighPots since 2011:
- Development of a method and software to measure trust
- Target Group Mapper® – Software for the dynamic allocation of consumer profiles to target groups and of products to target groups
- Gamification Klick-Rally® – Development and marketing of game apps for data enrichment and end customer profiling
- Interfaces to Web Tracking Systems
- Interfaces to CRM systems (Midoco, Microsoft Dynamics, SalesForce, CAS, etc.)
- Interfaces to Content Management Systems
- Browser and Clock Fingerprint Software
- Ultrasonic eBeacon for multi-screen user detection
- S4CRM® – integrated multi-channel system for social data enrichment, target group definition, product target group matching, campaign management and real-time campaign controlling
- MailStone® – System for the allocation of e-mail addresses to target groups
- HP Cloud – Building a High Performance Big Data Cloud
- Sales Service Desk (SSD) – Hybrid system consisting of bot and human for support and service centers
We are currently expanding our portfolio in the area of data-based marketing using neural networks and stochastic methods.
We are also developing further products and interfaces for data collection, some of which act as new marketing channels or as supplements to existing marketing channels.
In 2017, we taught our systems the distinction between success and failure.
If, for example, a high conversion is achieved, our systems remember all the parameters that led to it – from all campaigns… cross-channel advertising.
Sociological trends are also added to this – certain social or political events are set in context to the campaign result.
Thus our algorithms for machine learning bring permanent sales and marketing optimizations into our software products…. and thus the increase of sales for our customers.
For the end of 2018 and the year 2019 we will combine our products with M2M protocols (M2M = machine-to-machine). This allows consumer needs to be incorporated into the production process of the ordered product.