The second reason for their success is the pricing model. The arbitrary prices of other providers did not understand Pasche and his colleagues. “There is then a bronze tariff with ten e-mail addresses – for eleven addresses you need the silver tariff for twice the price,” says Pasche. “For the users this looks like an additional feature, for an admin, this difference is a line in the config.” Such a system did not want Pasche with his company.
Not the question of money should determine their customer contact, but the admin work. “We do not want to discuss prices with people,” says Pasche. A pay-what-you-want model interested him. “With brand eins, there is the option, if you are financially ill, to continue an existing subscription for up to one year free of charge,” says Pasche. The left-leaning daily taz also has a model with reduced prices for people who have to make do with very little money. Together, the Uberspace team developed its own model: The first month should be free, then it is up to the user, which amount he wants to pay.
Digital coffee pot
Were there no fears that they would end up at the expense? “So I say cheeky: This goes against the laws of probability,” says Pasche. For a good product pay enough people, Uberspace believed from the beginning. So it rings again and again in the digital Kaffeekasse when the team fixes a server failure quickly. “We would do something wrong if it did not work.” A bit of ambition also played a role in Uberspace – the ambition to show that it works.
A key to success is certainly the product itself. Founder Pasche calls it “high threshold”. More precisely: If you are not familiar with terms such as SSH access, SFTP and svscan instance, it is difficult for Uberspace. The target group names the team itself as a “command line lover”. These tech-savvy users appreciate the support, ten gigabytes of web space, and the calm appearance of the hosting provider.
And so Uberspace has grown over the years. The hosting service for end customers now accounts for 70 percent of sales, the rest is still the server business for agencies. About one third of users pay the minimum price, says Pasche. The average is above the cost per user, Uberspace does not want to publish exact numbers. “I do not want to give users an orientation value, they should be free to decide what they pay,” says Pasche.
An account plus at the end of the year
Over the years, founder Jonas Pasche got along without foreign money. Only once did he borrow 12,000 euros from the bank to purchase a new server. Quickly he paid the money back. “It’s corrosive if someone has you on the eggs,” says Pasche. They have always grown organically: In some years, sales have even doubled. In recent years, the growth curve has been flattened somewhat. With 30,000 euros profit per year they would have started, today, more than ten years later, it was 120,000 euros.
Other suppliers in the industry are seeing the success of the unusual pricing model. A modern Uberspace employee had once suggested to his old employer – also an agency – “Let us demand from the people as much as they want to pay.” The minimum price should be one euro. His boss replied: “If the customer is allowed to choose the price, he will pay as little as possible.” And the proposal was off the table. Two years after his dismissal and the start at Uberspace, his old boss has called again. He wrote with a wink: “We should have done it the way you suggested.”
Yet, behind the concept of Uberspace, there is no strategy outlined in detail with large master plans. An account that is positive at the end of the year – that’s the business objective. He is not a number person, says Jonas Pasche. No one who checks his controlling software every hour. “If I have 100,000 euros in my account at the end of the year, I’m thinking of whether I could hire someone,” says Pasche.