Web Hosting Interview - SiteGround April 2009

Web Hosting Interview - SiteGround April 2009

Marina Yordanova, SiteGround Marketing Specialist

Ask ten people for their definition of success and chances are eight will come back with being in the right place at the right time. Even if it is that simple, recognizing that you are in the right place at the right time, and capitalizing on that situation, is much more the domain of business prowess than lady luck. Case in point: SiteGround. We last spoke to SiteGround in October 2004, a mere 7 months after they launched. Since then, for many with Open Source evangelical streaks, SiteGround has become a household name. So, how did they get it so right? We ask Marina Yordanova, a SiteGround Marketing Specialist, to fill in the gaps.

  • HOSTSEARCH: Marina - thanks for meeting us like this
    MARINA YORDANOVA: It is great to meet you too. We at SiteGround are all big fans of HostSearch and check it frequently for the latest web hosting news. I must say I am very happy that SiteGround has once again the chance to be on your pages and so many people will read about the things we have done recently.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Why don't you kick off by telling our visitors something about SiteGround and your position in the company?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: For the people who don't know us already: SiteGround was founded in 2004 by a small team of very creative and enthusiastic young people. Thanks to their hard work and commitment, SiteGround has emerged as a leader in web hosting. Today more than ever our customers can count on high-quality services including secure and powerful servers, fast and professional technical support, friendly customer care and extensive collection of free website resources.

    Since the goal of SiteGround is to constantly improve its services and products, there are many new people on board who bring new ideas and motivation. I am one of the newcomers. I work for SiteGround since February 2008 as a Marketing Specialist and have learned and achieved a great lot during this time. My job is to research the needs of our customers and create the best bundle of products and services for them.
  • HOSTSEARCH: The last time we spoke to SiteGround was in 2004 and I believe at that time you were based in Bulgaria. Is that still the case? Have you expanded into any other countries since then?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: Our headquarters are based in Bulgaria and our servers are in the United States. In Bulgaria there are many dynamic and highly professional young people seeking a career in the IT sector who form a powerful and skilled workforce. We now have several offices here and the company staff exceeds 60 people.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What do you think is your biggest achievement during the period?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: During these few years our team was able to create an extraordinary web hosting service for more than 100,000 customers. Since the establishment of our company we have been constantly developing new technologies, investing in innovative infrastructure, and working on usability and service improvements. Today we are proud to be the technology leader among the shared web hosting providers on the market.

    Because we are devoted to providing our customers with he best service quality for their websites, we have replaced our hardware entirely with the most stable and powerful solutions available. We have introduced significant improvement in the management of our servers that led to optimizations, better monitoring and load balance, etc. We have also created one of the largest collections on the web with website tutorials, web hosting articles, and beautiful website templates, which are free to use.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What would you say is the biggest difference between since we last met and the current situation as far as the web hosting industry is concerned?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: The difference is that now the competition is more fierce due to multiple new companies that have entered the market and due to evolution of technology. Differentiation is much more difficult and it's a war in features and price more than ever.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Now, I personally first heard of SiteGround some years ago when I was sourcing a provider for a Mambo website. Back then Mambo was the shining light of the Open Source movement, and SiteGround very much recognized as a Mambo specialist. These days, you still cater for Mambo but you also cater for a host of other Open Source solutions. What exactly do you support?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: Indeed, Mambo was one of the very first scripts which we began to support. Over the years, however, we have been adding more and more open source platforms in our portfolio and have made possible the coexistence of thousands of such softwares on our servers. We currently support about 500 scripts on shared platform and a lot more on VPS and dedicated servers. Some of these are Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, osCommerce, PhpBB, vBulletin, Magento, and a lot more great open source applications.
  • HOSTSEARCH: I know that most Open Source solutions are free and often when you don't pay for something, you get what you pay for in terms of quality. But some of the Open Source solutions - Joomla, WordPress these types of solutions Well, they are quite amazing. Why has Open Source become such a big issue? Why do people put so much of their own time into developing these solutions?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: People have been always looking for high-quality software solutions. The more affordable they are, the better. Open Source software offers them exactly this - in the majority of cases it is free yet with powerful functionality and a user-friendly interface. They also gain access to the core code and are free to modify it. Behind the open source software there are great communities, which means that these projects never stay still, there are always improvements, new versions and added functionality. The power of the community is what makes the open source script stronger than the commercial one.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Will Open Source eventually dominate or will big players like Microsoft always have a role?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: In my opinion both will continue to exist. Our experience shows that the open source software is a very important factor in the industry. Even a major player like Microsoft is aware of its advantages and has recently released an open source Content Management System named Oxit. On the other hand, there are areas such as the intelligence and the army in which commercial software is a must as its code is not known to the public and it' more difficult to hack it.
  • HOSTSEARCH: How far do you see Open Source going? What will be available in say 5 to 10 years?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: I suppose in 5 or 10 years more than 60% of the used software will be open source. The future of software will be closely bundled with social cooperation and community networking. In software fields such as security software or business intelligence it would be difficult for the open source to enter, but not impossible.
  • HOSTSEARCH: So, as far as I can see, SiteGround was right in deciding to support the Open Source route, so to some extent you were in the right place at the right time, and that has obviously contributed to your success. However, it can't be the only reason - how has SiteGround grown into the company it is today?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: Our most important advantage are the great people working at SiteGround and the vision we all share for what our company should look like. We are much more than just colleagues - we are a devoted community and we like what we are doing.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You consistently get good reviews on HostSearch - people are clearly happy with your service. It's clear you please most of the people most of the time. What's special about the service you provide that keeps your customers coming back?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: We not only provide web space to our customers, but also give them a solid ground and secure environment for their websites. Our customers keep coming back because of the reliability of our technology and the quality support we offer. We use stable hardware and advanced software to control our machines. Our customers don't feel the server maintenance procedures or transfers when replacing our hardware with a better one.
    Our support is also very fast for critical issues and thus real service-related problems are resolved almost immediately. What makes our approach different, however, is that we do care for our customers and treat them all as a very special part of our community.
  • HOSTSEARCH: But if customers keep coming back, and you are consistently gaining new customers, isn't that a Catch 22 situation? Doesn't having more customers impact the level of service you can provide? How does a web hosting company manage growth and maintain the level of quality that fueled that growth in the first place?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: Indeed, that's usually the case with most companies, but we were aware of that and took a creative approach to the growth dilemma. We have optimized and automated significant part of the work processes and have introduced very aggressive training and quality monitoring programs regarding communication and customer service. These two things allowed us first to minimize the number of issues that might occur to a customer and second the time it takes us to resolve it.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Of course, these are difficult times as far as the global economy is concerned. But a number of reports have suggested that the recession hasn't had the same level of impact on the web hosting industry as it has had on other industries. Is this true? Are web hosts weathering the storm?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: The recession has affected all industry sectors, and indeed so far the least affected is the IT-sector. During this economy slowdown many people who are using web hosting services for fun would rather cut off these costs, because they are not considered essential. Others, however, choose to go online with their businesses because this is more affordable than establishing a brick and mortar store. Unfortunately, many web hosting companies are trying to weather the storm by offering prices or features they can't afford â€" there were few companies which were bought out or went bankrupt after deciding to follow such a strategy.

    Our receipt for getting out of the crisis is not only to win new customers, but to offer them a quality service, so they stay with us. Despite the world crisis we hold our position stable.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What about your customers? What is SiteGround doing to help your customers weather the storm?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: We have some hosting promotions running, suitable for business and private customers. We also have sponsorship projects targeting non-profit and open source organizations, as these are key partners to our business.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Recession aside, what is in the pipeline for SiteGround? Any plans for expansion? Other countries? New technologies? What can we expect in the short- to medium-term future?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: New technologies are always on the agenda for us. We also plan improvements in some areas of our work process and infrastructure. We are aiming to add more new content and free resources to our website. Last, but not least, we intend to increase our presence in the social media networks such as FaceBook and Twitter. We have recently started a company blog as well and we are very happy with the customer response.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Is there anything you would like to say to your customers?
    MARINA YORDANOVA: I would like to thank all our customers for their loyalty and support during the years. Thanks to them, their ideas and feedback we are able to offer the high-quality service they deserve.

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