How many of you remember the fight of the century? It was Haagen-Dazs v. Ben & Jerry’s in 1984. Okay, maybe not Ali vs. Liston, but in the business world it was comparable.
It was a classic David vs. Goliath tale. In 1978, two young hippies, Ben and Jerry, started an ice-cream shop in a renovated gas station in Vermont. By 1980, the popularity of their ice cream made them dream bigger and by 1984, they had grown the business to $4 million in sales. Independent ice cream distributors started selling Ben & Jerry’s in big grocery stores in Boston. And that’s how the fight started.
“That year, Haagen-Dazs, owned at the time by Pillsbury, had enough of our upstart small business,” said Ben Cohen, co-founder in a special CNN story in 2011. “Did they try to promote their ice cream harder, develop some new flavors or cut prices to competitively beat us?
No. Their game plan was to try to stop our distributors from carrying our ice cream. Pillsbury, a $4 billion corporation back then, was a major source of income for these distributors and they were told, in no uncertain terms, not to do business with Ben & Jerry’s.”
Cohen and Greenfield were faced with two choices: accept the decision and find another way to get into the Boston market, or fight back against Pillsbury. Ben & Jerry’s was a young company with limited resources. So they did the one thing that would give them a shot: they became the David to Pillsbury’s Goliath. They launched a grassroots campaign printed on the pints of their ice cream called “What’s the Doughboy Afraid of? If a customer sent in $10 they could get a bumper sticker and a t-shirt with the rallying cry: “What’s the Doughboy Afraid of?” on the front and “Ben & Jerry’s Legal Defense Fund: Major Contributor” on the back. The customer-centered approach worked, the lawsuit was settled out of court and the rest is history.
Fast forward 33-years and one of our valued platinum partners experienced an eerily similar obstruction of competition. Specifically, CUProdigy (David), a 20-person CUSO, was “uninvited” to speak about Cloud Managed Services at the 2017 SymEast and SymWest conferences because Jack Henry & Associates (Goliath) didn’t want competition. Organizers were pressured to remove CUProdigy or risk backlash.
It begs the question, “What’s Symitar afraid of?” Is it CUProdigy’s browser-based, open API core system? Is it CUProdigy’s core agnostic cloud services? Both? Frankly, if you think about it, showing up on Symitar’s radar is really a compliment to CUProdigy. CUProdigy is tiny compared to JHA. Yet, it’s also rather “un-American” for a big company to bully the little guy, especially in such a collaborative industry like credit unions. Competition is good for all industries. It makes us up our game, avoid complacency, and look for ways to stay relevant.
According to the “About Us” section of Jack Henry and Associates, JHA was “founded in 1976 on the premise that strong relationships and sound technology go hand-in-hand. Today with more than 10,000 customers and over 6,000 associates, we combine this idea with the pursuit of one common goal – excellence in financial services.”
CUProdigy was founded in 1991 by a group of forward-thinking credit union executives who recognized that, working together, they could produce a superior core processing system for less than the cost of a traditional system. Collaboration is at the very heart of CUProdigy.
While CUProdigy’s technologies have continuously advanced since the company’s founding, the collaborative spirit lives on in the organization today. As a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), CUProdigy is committed to creating core and cloud solutions for the benefit of their credit union partners. In the true spirit of cooperation, their partner credit unions have always enjoyed directing the priorities and development of their software products.
Banks have been trying to “shut down” the credit union “hippies” of the financial world for as long as we can remember. Credit Unions are those scrappy players, that have gone to their members in times of crisis to fend off the bank bullies, and so far we’ve won every time. As the only trade association representing CUSOs, we urge credit unions to fight back by “Buying CUSO.” And, in the spirit of Ben and Jerry’s grass roots effort, if you send $10 to CUProdigy, they will send you a t-shirt with “CUSO Lover” on the front and “You don’t know Jack!” on the back.
The best way for credit unions to win is by working together by focusing on the 6th cooperative principle: cooperation among cooperatives.
For a t-shirt, send $10 to:
Attn: “You Don’t Know Jack!”
209 E. Gordon Ave.
Layton, UT 84041