TL; DR: 1-grid has provided turnkey corporate services to companies across South Africa for more than 25 years. It specializes in online business solutions, including company registration, domain registration, website building, and comprehensive services ranging from shared website hosting to enterprise-grade servers. In a country where most people access the internet through mobile devices, 1-grid is the only hosting provider with a dedicated app for managing sites and content.
Many South African small businesses don’t make it past their initial stages into the growth phase of operations. According to Stellenbosch University in South Africa, one significant factor in the success of those SMBs was access to IT infrastructure and digital technology, which can contribute to growing an online presence.
1-grid delivers a turnkey solution for SMBs in South Africa that helps them build and grow their websites. The company initially launched in 1997 as Webafrica, and by 2018 it had moved on to form a new brand identity and a refreshed corporate vision: focusing on the needs of South African SMBs.
“Because our South African business community is growing so much, we saw an opportunity to support them with online resources,” said Dane Miller, 1-grid Marketing Manager. “And the beauty of what we offer is that it includes anything that startups need.”
1-grid delivers company registration services, small business web hosting, business email, domain registration, SEO optimization, and a variety of security services. Entrepreneurs with a business idea can partner with 1-grid to launch an operation, gain government approval, and get it online fast using a visual site builder or a template solution.
On the hosting front, 1-grid supports server migration, backup-as-a-service plans, and virtual private servers with or without cPanel or WHM. Its enterprise-grade servers are located in South Africa, and they include high-end hardware with unlimited bandwidth and fast network connectivity. The company’s VPS solutions — offered in three tiers — are competitive in both pricing and features. Additionally, the company delivers standard shared hosting, .NET hosting, and reseller accounts.
“Our product offering is quite broad, but we’re very proud of the fact that we are a local hosting provider,” Dane said. “And we stand behind businesses in the South African community.”
Helping South African Businesses Launch Quickly
Registration establishes a company as a legal entity in South Africa. Aspiring entrepreneurs can handle all of their registration efforts, including company name reservations, registration certificates, and notices of incorporation, directly through 1-grid. They can even take care of processing and filing fees for the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, register a domain name, and acquire an income tax number.
The 1-grid “business in a box” trial program delivers those services along with a business email address and a one-page site builder tool to create a simple landing page.
“We’re a small-to-medium size business ourselves, so we look for opportunities to help business as much as possible,” Dane said. “We’re always looking to help the South African community wherever possible.”
One such initiative is, together with a local radio station, to give away free website packages to people who have lost jobs in the pandemic and have been moonlighting with side jobs or have been trying to start their own business. The program provides these people with much needed media exposure as well as vital assistance in getting their new enterprises online.
That support for small businesses also applies to larger companies, and 1-grid offers a do-it-yourself search engine optimization tool. It runs tests against a site relative to Google’s discoverability to promote higher rankings while following the rules. Additionally, the company supports a migration pathway of increasing server size and complexity as a customer’s needs evolve.
The South African market is mobile-first, and most consumers use smartphones as their primary computing device instead of laptops or desktop machines.
“We recently launched a mobile app,” Dane said. “We’re the only hosting provider in South Africa to have one. The app helps our customers to manage and edit their websites.”
1-grid continues its support for growing customers with several significant educational offerings, including webinars and a podcast on Spotify.
“We come from an educational point of view, and that ties into assisting our small to medium enterprises to create a 1-grid community,” Dane said.
Customer Feedback Informs Product Road Maps
As a lean operation, 1-grid enjoys the flexibility to adapt to emerging market needs. The company has close relationships with its customers and can adjust much more quickly, even to minor bits of feedback. That agile response to consumer needs makes the product stronger and builds long-term brand loyalty.
“For customers who have uninstalled our mobile app, we ask them to complete some feedback for us on how we can improve to hopefully see them again on the app,” Dane said. “I work closely with the app, so I can see what comes in. From there, I take that feedback to our development team. We sit and brainstorm on how we can make the app better for our customers.”
As do many hosting providers, 1-grid maintains a public testimonial page. One common refrain in its public comments is how the support team deals with customer service issues quickly and cordially. Those service issues can also lead to actionable insights to support ongoing process improvement within the company.
Sometimes, customer feedback and common ticket types prompt the development of self-help tools that build on 1-grid’s online Knowledge Base. In recent years 1-grid has doubled down on improving its knowledge base tool, ensuring that documentation is up-to-date and responsive to the most common reasons site builders engage with the support team.
“We often refer customers to resources,” Dane said. “We redesigned our Knowledge Base and added more content that can assist customers in terms of their user journey and to round out gaps in their experience.”
1-grid: A One-Stop Shop that Allows SMBs to Thrive
1-grid has diligently served the South African market for more than a quarter-century. The 1-grid team aims to be a one-stop shop that empowers SMBs and aspiring entrepreneurs to maximize their online presence.
The company’s service portfolio includes all of the necessary forms, documents, and fees to register as a business entity with the South African government. 1-grid also offers a full-featured business email product, a visual site builder tool, and a variety of virtual and dedicated hosting packages. Hosting includes standard shared accounts plus reseller capabilities. The servers, meanwhile, range from affordable VPS options to dedicated and enterprise-grade servers.
One recent milestone for the company is its business email product. 1-grid delivered the product in early 2020, and it continues to be a priority for refinement.
“We have always had an email product, but we relaunched it in March because we wanted something a bit more collaborative,” Dane said. “The email tool gives customers the same features and functionalities as Microsoft 365. It has instant messaging and video conferencing, which was extremely useful throughout lockdown and enabled our customers to operate better.”
South Africa was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and early vaccine rollout was slow. In the ensuing disruption, companies like 1-grid stepped in to help people facing economic dislocation find opportunities in the online marketplace.
“The pandemic showed us that people and businesses realize the importance of the digital space and the importance of having an online presence,” Dane said.