Falk Weinreich, Colt: Truly Eurocentric
There are very few carriers left in the market as truly Eurocentric as Colt. The company’s VP of sales, Falk Weinreich, explains why the company is revelling in this role.
The Eurozone crisis has prompted many of Europe’s leading operators to look overseas for new profit margins, most notably in emerging markets in regions such as Africa and Asia.
Not Colt. In fact, over the last few years, the company has only looked to enhance its position and service offering in the European market.
“No one is defining Europe as their core market,” says Falk Weinreich, VP of sales at Colt.
“The very big players go after global accounts, but in doing so neglect parts of Europe. Or the smaller players are only focussed on their home territories.”
It is precisely why Weinreich feels Colt holds such a valuable position in the European market. The company boasts a complete European solution in terms of coverage and product offering.
It operates a 22-country, 43,000km network that includes metropolitan area networks in 39 major European cities with direct fibre connections into 18,000 buildings and 20 carrier neutral Colt data centres.
Weinreich feels the company’s voice, data and managed services portfolio has helped the carrier stand out in the marketplace, in particular catching the attention of overseas carriers looking to establish connectivity in Europe.
“No carrier can entirely do what Colt’s does in Europe,” he says. “On the wholesale side, we have a lot of attraction from the overseas carriers, particularly from India and Asia. They don’t need to build points of presence (PoPs) themselves or establish interconnection.”
The culture of Colt
Weinreich is Colt through and through, and talks passionately about the company he started his career with over 16 years ago. Since then he has worked in a number of sales and marketing roles at the business before landing his present role as VP of sales at the start of last year.
During this time, he has witnessed much change to both the company and the wider European wholesale telecoms market.
However, he says the company continues to hold the same belief in its asset-based model: “We started with networks. And today we continue to roll out more networks.”
He says from a business culture point of view that the company has evolved into a “much more innovative, smarter and agile” entity.
This he attributes to a transformation to Colt’s business model several years ago, which saw the company veer away from dividing its operations by country: “Going back 10 years, all our processes were country based – even down to the circuits. Some carriers still do that and it doesn’t encourage a team approach. Also the costs were enormous.”
By outsourcing internal processes such as accounting and IT to India, Colt was able to establish cost competitiveness in the market. Effectively the company went from a country model to a European model, says Weinreich.
The arrival of the company’s present CEO, Rakesh Bhasin, in 2006 also brought a renewed focus on quality of service according to Weinreich. “Sometimes you need to step back from what the competition is doing,” says Weinreich.
“About 10-15 years ago we won awards for customer quality and service, but that was diluted over some years. Now we are back.”
A real high flyer
Weinreich is a high flyer both in and out of the office. In his spare time, he enjoys taking to the sky as an aerobatic pilot, having previously demonstrated his skills at air shows and displays. “It can be very intense,” says Weinreich.
Now a family man with a young daughter, Weinreich says the best of his daredevil days are behind him. He hasn’t, however, lost any of his appetite for enhancing Colt’s position in the European marketplace. “The main things we can bring to Europe are creativity and innovation,” he says.
Across each of Colt’s service areas, Weinreich feels the company brings something new to the table in Europe.
For voice, he says, the company’s white label voice and SIP trunking solution is unique in Europe. “We can deliver SIP trunking across our entire European network, which is one of the densest you can find as a carrier,” he says.
On the data side, he highlights the company’s IP VPN offering, which is MPLS-based and operates over its Ethernet infrastructure. “No one else has focussed on mid-sized businesses with this type of offering,” says Weinreich.
While for the company’s managed services, Weinreich singles out Colt’s infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud offering, which is supported by the company’s growing data centre business.
Colt Data Centre Services was launched in 2010, and the company now operates 20 carrier neutral data centres across Europe.
“You won’t find anyone else in Europe which has cloud capabilities in more than maybe two or three countries,” says Weinreich. “The focus on combining the data centres and networks and having it based locally in the market’s infrastructure is our uniqueness.”
Earlier this month, the company launched its new data centre solution, which aims to offer carriers customers a more flexible approach towards the scalability of their power, space and cooling requirements.
The idea behind the ftec data centre, says Weinreich, is to help carriers avoid the high costs often encountered when expanding or building a new data centre. It builds on the design options of the Colt modular data centre which the company launched last year.
“We are basically scaling everything to much smaller sections, so the cooling and other features are autonomous. It means you can build much faster,” says Weinreich.
Stepping up the value chain
By developing new ways of bringing value to each of its service areas, says Weinreich, Colt can continue to step up the value chain. Even in spite of the continent’s difficult and uncertain economic conditions.
“There is a big risk in the market at the moment, particularly in Greece, Italy and Spain. The Euro is in danger and that brings a threat to the economy and our market,” says Weinreich.
“We believe, however, that even in a difficult economic environment, if you are able to position yourself right, you can still benefit.”
History: Colt was founded in 1992 with funding from Fidelity Investments. In 1996 Colt was floated on the London Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. In 2010, the Colt Data Centre Services business was launched to deliver data centre solutions at a Colt or customer site.
Network: Colt operates a 22-country, 43,000km network that includes metropolitan area networks in 39 major European cities with direct fibre connections into 18,000 buildings and 20 carrier neutral Colt data centres.
CEO: Rakesh Bhasin was appointed chief executive officer of Colt in December 2006.
Services: Colt enables its customers to deliver, share, process and store their vital business information. It claims to be an established leader in delivering integrated computing and network services to major organisations, mid-sized businesses and wholesale customers.
Customers: Colt serves more than 30,000 organisations in 22 countries across Europe. Its customers are from organisations in both the private and public sector ranging from multinational or national corporations to smaller companies in a single city location.