Host4u Group CEO Paul Hughes on the Strengths of the Company's UK Division — 25+ Years of Feature-Loaded Hosting & Support for SMBs

Host4u Group CEO Paul Hughes on the Strengths of the Company's UK Division — 25+ Years of Feature-Loaded Hosting & Support for SMBs

TL; DR: Started more than 25 years ago by Paul Hughes as a small web design and hosting company for local clients, UKHost4u quickly gained popularity among the UK business community and expanded coverage to the entire country. Today, UKHost4u provides a wide range of web solutions, including cloud computing, website development, VoIP, domain registration, and an array of hosting services. With a focus on customer support and dedication to providing fast, reliable, and scalable hosting environments, UKHost4u’s mission hasn’t changed since its inception — to help UK SMBs streamline IT operations, reach target audiences, and turn profits online.

In the 1990s, Paul Hughes was running a small web design company in the UK working primarily with a local client base. Among his customers were a few online magazines that needed hosting services — and that’s when he stumbled on a problem that would change the course of his business. Paul realized that most of the hosting industry was dominated by a handful of US-based providers ill-equipped to deliver the services necessary to effectively power the online assets of businesses roughly 4,000 miles away.

Seeing the perfect opportunity to jump into an unsaturated market, Paul decided to expand his operations and launched the Host4u Group — with UKHost4u as its flagship property. Paul’s company quickly gained momentum, scaled coverage across the entire country, and effectively pioneered UK-based hosting as it’s known today.

Establishing the Host4u Group was both a way for Paul to seize a lucrative business opportunity and avoid having to outsource to the much larger US market.

“When I launched this 25 years ago, it was actually a product that was part of another project requirement,” Paul said.

Paul Hughes's headshot and the UKHost4u logo

Paul Hughes founded UKHost4u to power the web apps of the UK’s small- and medium-sized business community.

Due to the lack of hosts in the UK at the time, Paul and his clients had to rely on infrastructure located across the pond, where — especially in the late 1990s and early 2000s — performance suffered, support was harder to obtain, and Paul had less control over his assets.

“There wasn’t much market in the UK for hosting,” Paul said. “So it was an opportunity to set up my own entity where I didn’t have to outsource whenever I had to do website projects.”

Today, UKHost4u remains a prominent UK host, powering the web apps of thousands of organizations. The company has also expanded internationally, with an operation running in Australia called AUHost4u, and plans to launch in other international markets in the near future.

Despite its emergence as a leader in the market, UKHost4u maintains a small-business feel, catering to SMBs with a mission to help them build presence and widen revenue streams on the web.

Overcoming The Challenges of a Shifting Hosting Landscape

UKHost4u entered the UK hosting market with two key business advantages — strategic timing and an existing client base on which to build. In the beginning, the company had a small but loyal client base consisting of its web design customers.

“We’ve always had the advantage that we started young enough and had a sector of existing clients that we could work on,” Paul said. “When we first launched, there were very few competitors and customers were very easy to acquire.”

As more hosts entered the local market, however, UkHost4u had to adjust its corporate strategy to stay in business. Yet, despite the challenges of a constantly changing industry, UKHost4u would see continued success in the ensuing decades.

“The market has shifted considerably in my opinion,” Paul said. “We’ve had to price ourselves to compete with some of the larger companies. That was the first time we saw exponential growth in customers. As the market started to mature, tech started to change as well.”

While smaller hosts began to offer low-cost services, larger hosts answered by delivering better infrastructure, more robust services, and greater overall security.

In the late 2000s, the market evolved further as the number of hosts increased. Paul cited two main variables in the shift of power to large hosts: one, the inability of smaller hosts to provide the sufficient infrastructure, products, security, and reliability required by some businesses — and, two, the fact that larger hosts began consolidating mid-market customer bases.

“The number of providers is steadily increasing,” he said. “With emerging vulnerabilities, such as DDoS, small hosts could no longer provide the level of care that was required. We’ve always tried to sit in the middle of that market.”

Nurturing Modern Business Missions With a Special Focus on SMBs

Because the company started as a small-scale web design service that worked with local e-zines, UKHost4u understands the challenges modern SMBs face. Despite its rise to prominence, the company is still run like a small business and employs fewer than 50 people.

In addition to technical support, UKHost4u staff is trained to offer SMBs guidance regarding business and technical decisions, acting more as a partner than simply a host.

“Our staff members are technically focused and technically trained,” Paul said. “They can advise on what solution is needed and also tell customers how to go about implementing it.”

UKHost4u also steps in to work on IT, design, and marketing for SMBs that are either understaffed in those departments or don’t have those resources at all. Either way, SMBs have gained a valuable partner as UKHost4u works directly with customers, taking individual needs into account.

“The primary focus we have with customers is flexibility,” Paul said. “When customers have an idea, technical issue, or service requirement, they can drop us an email or phone call — and we can have a solution or at least an idea sent out within 24 hours.”

A Rich History of Reliable Hosting Enhanced with Add-On Services

The company’s transition from a small-business web designer to a hosting provider was met by an initial whirlwind of success because UKHost4u was breaking new ground. As time went on, however, the hosting market in the UK would become more saturated, with many new competitors offering what was once a unique product. Thus, throughout its more than 25-year run, UKHost4u has had to add to its repertoire of products to stay competitive.

Over the years, UKHost4u has implemented many new solutions, including highly specialized tools to help businesses create and maintain online presence, VPS and reseller hosting, and VoIP, among others. These additional offerings supplement UKHost4u’s domain registration and basic shared hosting packages. UKHost4u delivers packages at a range of price points, with cheap solutions for SMBs and dedicated SSD servers for enterprises. For security, UKHost4u provides spam protection and SSL certificates.

Screenshot of UKHost4u's website featuring some of the company's offerings

Over its 25-year history, UKHost4u has evolved its offerings and delivers turnkey web solutions for SMBs.

To better accommodate its customers, UKHost4u is working on consolidating its customer service approach.

“We have different teams working different cases, and we’re spending a lot of time trying to work on a centralized system where information is fed to each member,” Paul said. “Customers like to deal with the same person regularly, as it’s much easier on them if they don’t have to retell their story to five different members of staff.”

As UKHost4u adds more products to its portfolio, the internal knowledgebase expands, keeping troubleshooting consistent and effective.

Tapping Into Global Markets With an Expanding Product Portfolio

After nine years in operation, the Host4u Group launched AUHost4u in Australia. The release came after the 2006 merger with Low Cost Space and its subsequent expansion in 2008.

Following the 2015 construction of a new datacenter in Scotland, Paul announced plans to overhaul his group to prepare for the global market.

“We are looking at more add-on services, and, in 12 to 48 months, we plan to promote ourselves in different markets like Asia,” Paul said. “We’re trying to increase our product portfolio to include things other web hosting companies offer. For example, we now offer telephone services as part of your hosting service — customers don’t need two suppliers for one job.”

Providing local hosting was a natural transition that allowed UKHost4u to offer much more than a single service to its clients. With more than 25 years of experience under its belt, the Host4u Group has stood the test of time and aims to always have something new to offer.

“Things are changing on a day-to-day basis — we’re in a very dynamic period of growth right now,” Paul said.

Sean Garrity

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