Web Hosting Interview - ServerIntellect.com November 2006

November 2006
Web Hosting Interview - ServerIntellect.com November 2006

Eric Pratt, owner of ServerIntellect.com

This month we interview Eric Pratt, the owner of ServerIntellect.com. His company has experienced rapid growth of nearly 300% in the past year alone and was named the fastest growing Windows host by Webhost Automation, makers of the HELM Control Panel. In a competitive world with millions of web hosts dotting the virtual landscape and jostling for customers we ask: How have you managed to attain such fast growth?

  • HOSTSEARCH: Mr. Pratt - nice of you to meet us like this. I hope we aren't intruding on your busy timetable too much. First of all, our visitors would probably benefit from an overview of Server Intellect and your role in the organization.
    ERIC PRATT: Thank You. It's an honor and privilege. The main focus of Server Intellect since day one has been on the Windows Hosting market. The current product set of Server Intellect is mainly Windows-based Shared, Virtual Private Servers (VPS) and Dedicated Web Hosting Solutions.

    My title in the company currently is President and CEO; however my main influence these days is on Product and General Business Development.
  • HOSTSEARCH: How long has the company been in business? Have you always been the owner? How did the company arrive at where it is today?
    ERIC PRATT: Client Intellect, Inc actually first started web hosting in 2003 under the brand of easerve.com. Back then it was nothing more than a few servers and a long-term goal to become a world renowned leader in the global web hosting market. We transitioned our customers over to the Server Intellect brand in 2004 and since then have experienced rapid growth. 2006 has been an incredible year for us so far by producing a growth rate of over 300% from the previous year.

    I am the sole owner of Client Intellect, Inc and have been since day one. I have personally overseen the growth from a few servers to hundreds of servers and thousands of customers from over 72 countries world-wide.

    I attribute a large part of our success to allowing the customer to dictate the products and services we offer, and not as a business owner individually. If a customer has a need for a product or service, we will do whatever we can to meet that customer's needs.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Surfing the Internet to see what I could find out about Server Intellect, I found this on a blog: "Server Intellect rocks! Server Intellect is a great web hosting company!" ... Somebody else added, "I think http://www.serverintellect.com rocks too." It must be nice to see people making such positive comments about your company. How did you manage to generate your own fan club?
    ERIC PRATT: I am a programmer by heart and been programming since 2001. When I first started in the web hosting market in 2003 I heavily catered our services to ASP.NET programmers and Windows developers. I gave ASP.NET programmers a solid platform to build from, understood their needs and did everything I could to make sure they had all of the tools they would need in order to succeed.

    In the beginning days of Server Intellect I assisted in all aspects of the company from Technical Support, Sales and Customer Service to Programming and Web Design.

    When my days allowed me to focus on Technical Support and a customer had a problem with their ASP.NET script, I would personally correct it for them, or at least point the customer in the right direction. Since I have a strong understanding of the .NET Framework and a love for programming, it was my pleasure to assist with any problems they experienced.

    All technicians at Server Intellect have a strong grasp of Microsoft technology allowing them to assist in, or at least understand most any ASP.NET programming issue.

    Understanding the customer's needs, providing a solid foundation and allowing the customer to continue to dictate what services we provide has always been a large part of the foundation of our success. Customer Service is a top priority at Server Intellect.
  • HOSTSEARCH: So, a 300% growth in the past year... named the fastest growing Windows host by Webhost Automation... I am sure the answer is going to involve 'customer service' but there must be more to it than that... Without giving too much away, how does a web hosting company position itself for such strong growth?
    ERIC PRATT: Surprisingly we allow our customers to do the majority of the marketing for us. If you provide an exceptional service at a reasonable price, your customers will tell others. You do not have to be the cheapest, the largest, the fastest or have the biggest bank account. If you are the best web host in the eyes of a single customer, that's all it really takes. They will tell others. It's a basic snowball effect. All it takes is a single happy customer to get the ball rolling. We're proof of that. We started with a single paying customer in 2003. I'm proud to say that customer is still happily with us today!
  • HOSTSEARCH: If your current rate continues, your company may very well become a major player in the industry. Where do you see Server Intellect in a few years?
    ERIC PRATT: Back in 2003 we started with a long-term goal to become a world renowned leader in the global web hosting market. I feel we are fast approaching that goal, and you can expect to see the Server Intellect brand around a lot more in the coming years. Without divulging too much information, I will simply say that we continue to have big plans!
  • HOSTSEARCH: When an organization of any nature grows quickly, to some extent it strategic planning becomes very difficult and many companies become a victim of their own success. That has obviously not happened to Server Intellect.com but how do you keep ahead of the curve... staffing... expansion... customer requirements, etc. when everything is just a blur?
    ERIC PRATT: A single person can only take a company so far. If every single responsibility fell on my shoulders today like they did in the past, we wouldn't be doing too well! Having a strong team with just as much dedication and drive is essential to any growing business if they plan to succeed. It is essential that a business owner choose the best of the best to help lead the company. I will admit that finding the right people to be a part of our team has always been one of the hardest tasks in my current job role.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Your packages feature ASP, ASP.NET 1.1/2.0 web hosting and your web sites says, "Microsoft Web Applications. (No PHP, Perl etc.)." Clearly this is a policy that has paid off, but in an environment where many web hosts offer more and more of everything in a bid to stay ahead of the curve, wasn't restricting yourself to Microsoft a difficult decision?
    ERIC PRATT: Catering to ASP.NET Developers is something that we have done since day one in our Shared Hosting environments. I strongly feel that picking a niche and understanding the customer's needs 100% is much more sensible than trying to provide every technology under the sun. Our customers can trust that we understand their problems, issues and concerns fully.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What sort of a role do you expect Microsoft to play in web hosting in the future?
    ERIC PRATT: Microsoft is a multi-billion dollar company with the resources to make a drastic impact on the future of Web Hosting. With the release of Windows Server 2003 we really saw Microsoft target Web Hosters like they never have before. Microsoft made available a wide range of free tools and resources such as the "Microsoft Solution for Windows-based Hosting", the "ASP.NET Hosting Advantage Program", the "Microsoft Solution for Windows-based Hosting for Applications" and of course the "Microsoft Service Provider License Agreement" (SPLA) which makes licensing Microsoft Software very affordable. I think Microsoft finally realized what a huge market Web Hosting will play in the future of business and decided to heavily target Web Hosters. You can count on Microsoft being a front runner in Web Application Hosting platforms of the future.
  • HOSTSEARCH: So... A similar question... and one we like to ask ... What's the next big thing to hit the Internet and how will it impact people's lives? Not necessarily anything to do with Microsoft...
    ERIC PRATT: The internet is still in its infancy. Over the next 10 years I really hope to see drastic improvements in information management and how information can be tied together to provide useful services. Bits and pieces are out there, and there is a basic framework in place with XML Web Services, but we haven't seen anything really useful as of yet. I honestly feel its going to the collaboration of a lot of major technology companies, retail, food and possibly even local governments to really get something life changing out in the world.
  • HOSTSEARCH: With such expansion going on around you, do you find time to relax? What do you do?
    ERIC PRATT: Living in Florida really has its advantages. I can guarantee you I would have a lot more stress if I lived in any other state.  I love being able to take quick weekend getaways. There is so much to do and it's all so close. When we are able to find the time you can usually catch my wife and me at the theme parks, boating out on the ocean, jet skiing, and at least twice a year we take a cruise to the Caribbean or the Bahamas. It's all so close! I really love Florida. It's a great place to live if you own a business. It really helps keep the stress low.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us today. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers about your company?
    ERIC PRATT: I guess the only thing I'd like to add is that your readers can expect to see a lot more of us in the coming years. I'd also like to thank you for taking the time to interview me.

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