TL; DR: For more than two decades, the team behind 1-grid has provided comprehensive web hosting solutions to its South African community. Now, the company is leveraging its experience to focus on enabling entrepreneurial growth via fast and reliable hosting, flexible site-building solutions, and proactive online protection. 1-grid’s new social media marketing services round out its portfolio of products, making it easier than ever for small and medium businesses to build and maintain an online presence.
Small businesses are crucial to job creation in South Africa, where unemployment rates have soared to an alarming 29% as of the second quarter of 2019.
Recognizing the value of entrepreneurship as a vehicle for economic growth, the South African government went as far as establishing the Ministry of Small Business Development in 2014, placing SMEs at the center of job creation.
The country’s tech community is also doing its part to stem joblessness by promoting a fertile entrepreneurial ecosystem. In 2017, Gridhost — one of South Africa’s largest hosting providers — rebranded itself as 1-grid to reflect the company’s passion for business growth and empowerment.
“1-grid specifically focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses succeed online,” said Dane Miller, Head of Marketing for the company. “We strive to enable growth for entrepreneurs in our African market through innovative hosting services and more.”
The company delivers a broad portfolio of tools for building and maintaining an online presence, including domain registration services; shared, virtual, and dedicated servers; a DIY website builder; and ongoing security protection. All services come backed by expert support via phone or chat, automatic backups, and simplified billing with no vendor lock-in.
Ultimately, 1-grid’s goal is to enable entrepreneurial growth online by offering intuitive and flexible options for hosting, building, and protecting SME sites. And with the company’s new social media marketing and SEO services, it will also drive growth through better rankings and increased traffic.
20 Years of Experience Growing Online Businesses
Dane told us that 1-grid’s story began in 1997 with the founding of Webafrica, an internet service provider (ISP) that offered a wide range of services, from broadband and modems to web hosting and domain management. In 2013, Webafrica purchased Gridhost to supplement its hosting offerings with shared, virtual, and dedicated solutions.
As the industry grew more complex, Webafrica realized that trying to provide everything web-related under one brand was too cumbersome, so the company formally split the businesses into two. At that point, Gridhost became 1-grid.
“Today, Webafrica focuses on internet access, and 1-grid focuses on hosting and design-related services,” Dane said. “1-grid now differentiates itself in the hosting market by growing along with our small and medium-sized online business customers — no matter what stage they are in.”
Today, 1-grid continues to take seriously its commitment to growing small businesses in South Africa. In September, the company partnered with students from the University of Cape Town to provide the tools they needed to establish their own businesses as part of an entrepreneurship course.
In addition to hosting services, 1-grid provided a domain name, SSL certificate, and access to its intuitive website builder.
“We wanted to provide the students with the necessary support to grow their businesses,” 1-grid’s Craig Feste told South Africa Business Report. “Young people make great entrepreneurs because they can approach old problems in new and innovative ways. However, they often lack the experience and resources needed to get online. This is where we could step in to give the students a step up.”
Intuitive and Flexible DIY Web Building Solutions
Over the last few years, Dane said he’s observed a shift in the industry from site creation via WordPress environments to DIY site-building solutions. “We tried to cater to that demand by creating a specific focus on DIY solutions that benefit end users, providing customers access to the tools they need to build their own customized websites,” he said.
1-grid’s drag-and-drop site-building tool makes it possible for anyone to create stylish websites, with or without prior coding and design chops. Users can choose from a variety of layout possibilities and predesigned sections, offering complete control over the site’s appearance.
Access to the web builder is provided via three plans with tiered pricing. The Small website builder plan includes up to 10 pages, 750MB disk space, 750MB traffic, and five email accounts. The Medium plan is ideal for selling products and services online, including up to 35 pages, 10 products, 2GB disk space, unlimited traffic, and 15 email accounts.
The Large plan is the cream of the crop in ecommerce, offering a free .store domain, unlimited pages, 50GB disk space, unlimited traffic, and unlimited email accounts. If you’re selling online, 1-grid also allows you to offer customers a number of payment options within the website builder.
All sites created through 1-grid’s website builder are compatible with any mobile device and screen size, so there’s no need for a separate application or site. The plans also include easy-to-use SEO tools, five free premium stock images with each new website, and the ability to add maps and forms with just one click.
Proactive Website Protection and Monitoring
1-grid provides a fully managed website security service that consists of preventative action, early detection, and immediate remediation to help businesses achieve as close to 100% uptime as possible.
For ecommerce shops, even small amounts of downtime come at a high cost. According to Gartner, the average cost of downtime per minute equates to $5,600. And that is just the average: On the low end, downtime can be as much as $140,000 per hour. On the high end, one hour of downtime costs an estimated $540,000.
1-grid’s security solutions help mitigate these risks with advanced monitoring in a real-time IT environment via Comodo cWatch Web, which scans, identifies, analyzes, and removes threats before they cause irreversible damage. An easy-to-manage user dashboard makes it simple to request cleanup with one click, as well as monitor your website security from any location or device.
To help businesses secure their sites, 1-grid also offers several Comodo SSL certificates designed to safely encrypt data sent from the customer’s browser to the company’s server. SSL certificates are a must-have for avoiding Google’s “Not Secure” warnings in the visitor’s URL bar, which diminish trust and negatively impact conversions. SSL certificates also boost search rankings and traffic, protect against phishing attacks, and improve site performance.
New: Increase Reach with 1-Grid’s Social Media Marketing
Moving forward, 1-grid plans to focus on empowering businesses to expand their online reach. One such example is the company’s recently released social media marketing solution, designed to maximize brand awareness and engagement with target audiences through tailored and curated content.
The application-based service is complemented by assistance from a dedicated account manager who creates custom cover photos, posts relevant content, promotes sponsored posts, and provides knowledgeable support. The service also includes monthly insights reports that allow users to watch as their channels grow.
“With a big focus on innovations like our social media product, we aim to enable small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa to grow their businesses on an even greater scale,” Dane said.