Web Hosting Interview - midPhase July 2008

July 2008
Web Hosting Interview - midPhase July 2008

Nick Nelson, Affiliates Evangelist, midPhase

midPhase (http://www.midphase.com/) is one of those success stories that makes you want to rush out and become a web host. This is a company that started operations with $2,000 and a single server, which grew big enough and successful enough to be taken over by one of the UK's leading players - the UK-2 Group, Ltd. Located in the tallest building in the United States, the Sears Tower in Chicago, midPhase provides a solid range of budget, shared, advanced and other types of web hosting services to around 120,000 customers (small business to individuals) in over 140 countries. We talk to Nick Nelson, Affiliates Evangelist at midPhase. We ask how to build a business as successful as midPhase, and what life has been like since the company was acquired.

  • HOSTSEARCH: Mr. Nelson. Thanks for the opportunity to talk to you like this today. First of all, why don't you introduce yourself and tell us about your role within midPhase.
    NICK NELSON: Hi! My name's Nick, and I'm the Sales/Marketing Director at Midphase. I was hired as the Affiliates Evangelist but quickly picked up additional roles and ended up taking on the Sales/Marketing Directorship as well. To steal a phrase from Eric Gregory at cPanel though, I like to try to be a swiss army knife for the UK2Group. I work on brand development, sales, marketing and a little bit of everything non-technical. Which has been a long time coming, since I started off in the industry in 2001 at a fellow budget shared hosting provider as a Datacenter Tech in Los Angeles, and moved through the industry slowly moving into the business development role.
  • HOSTSEARCH: How long have you been with the company?
    NICK NELSON: Well, as you said, Midphase and it's sister companies were purchased in December, I started with UK2Group in May.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You actually have a sister website to your main site - midphaseaffiliate.com. How important is your affiliate program to your business?
    NICK NELSON: We have many sister sites, MidphaseAffiliate.com is the site for our affiliate base. Affiliate sales is a HUGE part of Midphase and ANHosting.com, we pay our top affiliate over $40,000 a month!
  • HOSTSEARCH: You currently have over 8,000 affiliates.
    NICK NELSON: Yes we do. With $85 per sale, it's very attractive for everyone to become an affiliate. We do biweekly payouts, I've always dreamed of 'being' an affiliate, the affiliate business is very lucrative.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You have a broad range of services - budget web hosting, Virtual Private Servers, dedicated hosting - what would you say is your flagship area of activity?
    NICK NELSON: Shared hosting is definitely our flagship product, but our dedicated server segment is going strong. We're branching it off as a separate brand, 10TB.com, which recently launched at HostingCon! It's something I take great pride in, and it contains our new AJAX-based Control Panel, which I'd like to try to explain here, but simply put, it'll knock your socks off. Check it out!
  • HOSTSEARCH: You have just launched a new service - designPhase. Why don't you talk us through that?
    NICK NELSON: designPhase... another beauty that's been developed lately! Basically, there's a huge market for people who simply want a website, but don't want to manage their site, or design their site. designPhase is for that person, it's done on a yearly basis (paid monthly) and allows you to choose a template from over 10,000, choose a backend - OSCommerce, Joomla, etc... and we'll custom make a site for you based on that template and backend, and we'll manage the site, adding content as needed, adding email addresses. Basically for less than $60 a month, you're getting a webmaster, hosting, and a site, all wrapped up in one, and managed by our team of experts.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What other services do you offer?
    NICK NELSON: Wow..what don't we offer. In the 90 days (almost!) that I've been in Chicago with Midphase, it seems we've put the final touches on everything, we've recently introduce ShopPhase, our own shopping cart, built around CSS and being offered at $19.95/month with free SSL Certificates and a dedicated IP. For anyone using any of those "other" shopping carts, I'd highly recommend checking out ShopPhase. VPS, Dedicated Servers, Managed Dedicateds through our guys over at SupremeSupport.com. We do it all.
  • HOSTSEARCH: It's a difficult environment web hosting - especially now, but it has never been easy. Yet midPhase has been through it all - from a $2,000 investment to a buy out. I guess that's the route a lot of our visitors who might be kicking off reseller hosting accounts might be interested in taking... so, how do you navigate this route? What does it take to start off with next to nothing and end up the target of acquisition?
    NICK NELSON: Although I can't take claim to the work put in to move Midphase to the top - I can say in two words what it takes... HARD WORK. Zac and Dan worked very hard to build Midphase to be attractive enough to attract the team over at UK-2Group. Work hard, and good things will come. Speaking of which - we're always looking for new acquisitions, so if you'd like your hard work to pay off, drop me an email!
  • HOSTSEARCH: And you have been taken over by a British company. Is there anything intrinsically different about working under a British parent, or are things basically the same?
    NICK NELSON: They have crazy accents... no really, it's all the same. We work very closely with our counterparts at UK2, they spend time in our offices - we spend time in theirs. It's really no different. Except early morning conference calls to make our hours match up... ugh!
  • HOSTSEARCH: So people have said that these are difficult times for web hosting and that traditional web hosting services might not really be able to compete against 'Cloud' computing services. What's your take on that?
    NICK NELSON: Hosting is about that 10%, 90% of hosting is the same. The 10% rule was introduced to us by UK2Group, and basically it means that we simply want to make our 10% count. Value addons like free SSLs and customer service - putting a face and voice to our product is key. We always maintain an 800 # for US based support, and our management team is always available. Regardless of the technologies that may change, it's all in that 90%, we'll keep up, but it's the focus to that 10% that makes us rock.
  • HOSTSEARCH: There's no doubt that because of 'Cloud' computing the playing field is changing shape, and it's certain that more and more traditional web hosts are going to be fighting for a share of a contracting market. midPhase has shown what it takes to kick off with a limited investment and build it into something substantial, but what about future success - how are you going to assure your future success.
    NICK NELSON: I think I answered this one a bit early. It's all about that 10%. We're continue to strive and offer our clients the things that matter - quality service, and that extra value they don't get in typical hosting, whether it's cloud based or the traditional rock-steady hosting.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Do you think that web hosting is too dependent on a too few a number of products? The Linux versus Windows debate is case in point. Isn't there a need for web hosts to invest in their own futures rather than simply waiting for the next version of the OS they are using and the next Control Panel? Or will that always be the same?
    NICK NELSON: Response 12: Wow... we're falling all over the 10% rule now. All of that is in the 90%, it's okay, but yes, it's all the same. Hosts need to differentiate themselves to succeed. Make sure that 10% rocks. Because 90% is well, just plain boring webhosting.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What fills you time when you aren't evangelizing - if that's even a word! (laughs)
    NICK NELSON: When I'm not in the work mode, I like to enjoy Chicago. I moved here for Midphase, and I love it. The beaches in the summer are amazing, the city is just great. Now come winter, I think I'll pick up my second favorite hobby - traveling...anywhere warm!
  • HOSTSEARCH: Thank you very much for your insights.
    NICK NELSON: Thanks! It's been great. Now time to get back to work! For those of you with a dedicated server, I can't stress how proud I am of 10TB.com and our new control panel... it's like nothing you've seen, leaves  the competition in the dust... go on over and check it out! And for those who want those $40k a month paychecks as much as I do, head on over to our affiliate site and sign up!

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