Jeff, you are now a successful businessman and your software is one of the most sought-after in the industry. How did you become "Mr InspectionXpert"?
I founded my current company in 2004, initially under a different name. Before that, there were a few other stations in my life. After my mechanical engineering studies, I first worked as an engineer in various companies. Then came a not so nice phase, I had problems finding an adequate job in my field. But my motto has always been "don't give up"! - I continued to work very intensively on software development, and quite successfully at that. During this time, I also came into contact with CAD technology.
In what way did that influence you specifically?
I just knew first-hand what daily problems engineers have to deal with. Let's imagine Jeff Cope as an unbiased young engineer who takes his CAD drawing to the colleague in charge at the company. His task at the time was to insert my ideas into a table in Microsoft Word, to mark up table rows in a cumbersome way, and so on. And woe betide this young engineer if he thought of something else a few hours later and came back and said "Oh, I've discovered a few more mistakes, I've redone it".
That's no way to make friends in the company, is it?
No, certainly not. Nobody would be happy if they had wasted 5 hours of working time in this way. - Exactly such problems existed and still exist today, I had observed this frequently in my more than four years of working in this field. So I started thinking about how to solve these and similar problems.
So that was the birth of InspectionXpert?
Yes, almost. I first programmed a software under a different name, the name InspectionXpert came a short time later.
How big was the response?
Amazingly big! I was surprised myself at the response when I published my offers on a message board that was common at the time. Not only small, but also big companies all wanted the product. I could hardly keep up with the order processing.
Did you do everything yourself in the beginning?
In the beginning, yes, there was simply no other way. I also still think a lot of personal customer contact. From the very beginning, we had very different customers, from a simple small business owner in Alabama who could hear his baby crying in the background during telephone support. At the same time, however, we also received more and more enquiries from larger companies as word spread about what InspectionXpert does. There was everything, enquiries from the aerospace industry, from the military, but also from medical technology, for example. Quite simply from every sector where innovative and accurate quality management is important.
How is your company doing today?
Through the internet and word-of-mouth, we have grown very quickly in recent years. We now have over 7000 users in over 2000 companies on 7 continents.
Quality management is becoming increasingly important?
Absolutely, so it is no wonder that there are now some competing companies trying to get a piece of the "pie". Due to increasing globalisation, more and more competition is entering the market, for example from China, but also from other countries such as Vietnam or African countries. In the beginning, as I said, we were pioneers in the field. Therefore, we also have the most experience and can offer our clients the most.
Isn't this also a consequence of the increasingly tough competitive pressure in the industry?
Absolutely, the requirements have increased in general, which can be seen particularly well in the example of the automotive industry. Costs are always to be reduced, and yet ever higher product quality must be achieved. Sellers today are under enormous price pressure.
So have times become tougher?
Yes, to some extent it is. Let's put it this way, 20 years ago the world looked very different. There were a few standard software programmes, a lot of drawing was still done on paper, and so on.
Today we are more spoiled, we are simply used to something different: we use the internet as a matter of course, we are on Facebook, we send PDF documents. In the past, thousands of drawings were needed before a product was launched on the market. There were a lot of sources of error. Today, we send spreadsheets online that already contain all the necessary data.
But isn't it great to have access to software solutions today that can generate stamped test drawings and test plans from test drawings and models with just one click? And everyone involved has an overview of what's going on!
Thank you, Jeff, for the interview!