Xantaro – deeply rooted in the carrier business
Xantaro was founded 16 years ago. But the history of the team behind it goes back much further – and so does its experience with critical network infrastructure. Especially because the company is now opening a new chapter with the foundation of a new business unit for enterprise customers, it is worth taking a look back at the beginnings. Xantaro CEO Gerold Arheilger answered our questions.
Mr. Arheilger, you originally studied mechanical engineering, combustion engines and turbomachines. How did you come to grid technology?
In the 80s and 90s, IT experienced an enormous upswing. At the university, too, the computers we worked with were becoming more and more powerful and networked. This aroused my interest, and one of my first professional positions was as a consultant for the integration of network operating systems, for example, Banyan VINES, Cisco and the like. Later I was a Cisco telecoms trainer, giving StrataCom, ATM and Frame Relay training to Cisco staff and partners. Then I was co-responsible for business development in Central and Eastern Europe at Juniper as a sales engineer and finally ended up at NK Networks…
…where you worked together with the later co-founders of Xantaro.
Yes, we built up the “Carrier & Service Provider” business unit here together – with exciting people. These included Ingo Kierse as a sales specialist in this environment, who had previously worked for Cisco partners, among others, but also for manufacturers, already here with a focus on the carrier business. Also, Peter Schulte, who founded ABC Telecom together with the later CEO of Deutsche Telekom, René Obermann. As a consultant at BRS Information Management Partner, he was also active in the telecommunications sector. And last but not least, Michael Horn, who gained industry experience as Managing Director at NK Networks and previously worked as a consultant at PWC. In addition, there was of course a growing team of hand-picked specialists for sales and service, who also had a wealth of experience in TC technologies and the carrier business.
Sounds like a success story – how did the split come about?
In 2005, the ownership structure of our employer changed. Initially, we were very optimistic about the future because we were convinced that the new parent company would offer us considerable growth opportunities. We wanted to roll out the carrier business across Europe on the basis of the existing branches and ensure growth. The group did not share our confidence. However, since we were convinced of our idea and were signalled high recognition in the market, we then looked for ways to reach our plans independently.
You could have switched to a competitor…
…but we found an investor who enabled us to set up an independent company. After examining our plans, Mummert + Partner Vermögensverwaltung came to the conclusion that we could be a good investment. This meant that the foundation of Xantaro was financially secured.
How did the company develop in the first period?
The plan was for the four of us to set up the company and then build up a sales team step by step. But things turned out quite differently. Former colleagues from sales followed us in masses. Of course, we couldn’t say “no”. They all had in-depth know-how, carrier-affine qualifications, were well known in the telecommunications market and were extremely motivated. So shortly after the official start of the business, we already had a large team, but no customers, no turnover, no offices and not even business cards. And after we were able to show that our young company operated reliably, the companies that relied on the well-known expertise of the Xantaro staff started to come in. Our first customer was HostEurope, now part of GoDaddy, with whom we are still in contact today.
So you’re saying that the expertise of the team was crucial to the company’s launch?
Yes, we managed to transfer the expertise and awareness of our team to the newly founded Xantaro and grow with it. But of course, you cannot rest on a good reputation. Step by step, we have brought additional competences into the company with new colleagues and expanded our wealth of knowledge to include other technology areas, such as mobile communications technology, which we have been operating since 2010. It is one of the roots for our current offering around 5G campus networks. Sometimes colleagues also had to “swim free” in a project first, in other words: familiarise themselves with new technologies. This happened, for example, with an SGSN/GGSN project at Vodafone. The customer was highly satisfied and immediately thanked us with follow-up orders. At Xantaro, we have also further deepened the field of optical transmission technology. Only recently, we received great praise for our competence in this field of technology. The managing director of a well-known southern German network operator said on the eve of a telecommunications trade fair: “There is only one company – apart from the manufacturers – with whom I can talk about complex IP topics in Germany, and that is Xantaro. And the same is true in the area of OTN (optical transport networks)!” I see this as an accolade for our whole team.
What was the strategy behind the development of Xantaro?
The starting point for the plan to set up our own company was the assessment that we had only scratched the surface of the market potential until then. Our customers’ need for highly specialised experts was and still is enormous. In addition, we were encouraged by manufacturers like Juniper, who assured us that there was also relevant potential in other countries for an offer of our quality. In the meantime, we are not only represented on the German market, but in recent years we have also been able to establish a branch office in the UK, which today operates very successfully and is constantly acquiring more customers.
You can find out what Xantaro plans to do in the future in the second part of the interview.