TL; DR: In 2004, Tony Baird and Cody Robertson set out on a mission to build a zero-cost hosting solution for a few good friends. Word quickly spread, and, since the duo enjoyed the work so much, they decided to offer the service to paying customers. And, thus, Hawk Host was born. Hawk Host has scaled quite a bit since those early days and now offers an array of hosting packages, including cloud and VPS solutions. But this growth hasn’t changed the core of Hawk Host’s philosophy. As the company’s Operations Manager Brian Farrell told us, Hawk Host remains committed to delivering top-tier hosting with the personal touch of a small provider.
In the early to mid-2000s, the web was just starting to open its arms to a new breed of entrepreneur. Merchants and small businesses were beginning to realize the potential the web offered to market their products and services, and people were lining up in droves to learn how to grab market share in the new space.
Tony Baird and Cody Robertson saw many of their friends trying to get sites online, so they decided to try their hand at web hosting and started what would become Hawk Host.
“At first, they just wanted to host sites for their friends,” said Brian Farrell, Hawk Host’s Operations Manager. “But they realized they had a knack for the business as their company started to grow. Around 2007, that growth really took off.”
The time was a great boon for the shared hosting market, and, as Brian told us, Hawk Host got in at just the right moment.
“It’s a very saturated market today,” he said. “To break into the business has always been difficult, but I have no idea how anyone would do it now.”
In the beginning, Hawk Host had a single datacenter located in Dallas and catered mostly to shared hosting clients. As the business expanded, the team noticed that many of its new customers were international.
“A lot of them came from the Asia-Pacific region,” Brian said.
To capitalize on the opportunity, Hawk Host built a West Coast location in San Jose, California, and later opened datacenters in Singapore and Hong Kong.
By 2011, it was clear that Tony and Cody had created a powerhouse hosting company.
“Things were really booming,” Brian said. “While we still focused on shared hosting, we also launched our reseller and VPS packages.”
Since then, Hawk Host has seen steady growth and regularly expands its team and services.
“Our mission is to nurture our original core competency — shared hosting — while also expanding into cloud hosting and building more datacenters,” Brian said.
Hawk Host’s solutions work for everyone from web entrepreneurs looking for shared hosting to small businesses that need cloud and VPS solutions. Whether an individual wants to register a domain or a business wants to migrate to cloud web hosting, Hawk Host has the tools they need.
Evolving Alongside an Ever-Changing Industry
Over the last 14 years, the hosting market has changed dramatically. Hawk Host has thrived by paying close attention to these changes and updating its products so its customers always have access to the industry’s best solutions.
“Back in the day, it was easy to provide relatively few resources while charging customers high rates,” Brian said. “That was good for us because it gave us a niche — our prices were lower than the competition.”
That started to change as the market became saturated. Price wars ensued and costs became uniform across the industry. Being the cheapest was no longer a differentiator. As a result, Hawk Host has had to continually evolve.
“Our prices have to be at a point where our customers can’t understand how we make money. And we have to do everything just as well as our competitors, while also developing solutions they don’t have,” he said. “There are just a ton of hosting businesses, and the only way to bring in new clients is to offer the whole kit and caboodle.”
Addressing the Needs of a Diverse Customer Base
Another thing that has changed is the kind of customer who uses hosting services. A decade ago, most people looking into hosting were developers and tech entrepreneurs who appreciated super-technical tools. But Brian told us that has changed.
“Today, a lot of our customers are not very technical,” he said. “But our Founders still are! Both Tony and Cody are nerds and have been from the beginning. That’s why our products are always on the cutting edge but are also practical for different use cases.”
Throughout Hawk Host’s history, Tony and Cody have been quick to adopt powerful new tools. They used LiteSpeed web servers and Cloud Linux long before the solutions became industry standards.
“When Cloudflare opened its partner program, we were one of the first to sign up,” Brian said. “We were still a very young company, but the opportunity seemed too interesting to pass up. We’ve never been afraid to jump into a beta.”
This attitude was an advantage when Hawk Host’s customers were just as tech-savvy as its Founders. But now that its customers aren’t quite as excited about testing every new tech trend, it can be a risky strategy.
“We have to carefully tread the line,” Brian said. “While Tony and Cody want to offer our customers 10 different versions of PHP and proactively scan their sites for malware, we also have to pay attention to our average mom-and-pop shop that runs a dime store in Kansas. They don’t care about all of these new gadgets.”
That’s where Brian’s background in customer service and operations management comes in handy.
“It helps when I can talk to our customers and say, ‘I see what you mean. This new tool isn’t intuitive,’” he said. “We carefully toe a line that balances cool features for the techies with simple tools for people who just want a great hosting service. If we lose our balance, we’ll also lose touch with our customer base. We don’t want to offer features that no one actually cares about.”
Personalized Support: It’s More Than Just a Catchphrase at Hawk Host
While the hosting industry as a whole is notorious for its poor customer service, Brian told us it has become a cliché for individual hosting businesses to praise their own customer service to the skies.
“Part of the reason for this is that the industry has become all about mergers and acquisitions,” he said. “The employees who work for big monolithic giants don’t have a lot of passion. At the end of the day, they show up to work for the paycheck.”
Hawk Host operates with a different philosophy, according to Brian. Though the company has grown quite a bit since its early days as a two-man operation, the passion and commitment to hands-on care remains.
“I truly believe our customer support is second to none,” Brian said. “The difference is Hawk Host is still very niche. Our employees don’t just answer a ticket and then move on with their day. They take customer service very personally.”
The Mantra: Reliability Is the Key to Success
In addition to its stellar customer service, what separates Hawk Host from the competition is its reliability.
“Our prices may not be the cheapest in the industry,” Brian said. “But, if you sign up with us, you’re going to pay less than $20 a month, and we’re going to hit our uptime guarantee almost every single month of every single year. If there are any issues, we’re very quick to fix them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
Hawk Host’s service isn’t only reliable — it’s also growing. The company just launched a fully cloud-based datacenter in New York City.
“That’s the infrastructure we’re moving toward,” Brian said. “We’re already building it in Dallas and LA, and soon we’ll introduce the service internationally.”
Over a decade ago, Hawk Host was a service that provided shared hosting to a small number of customers. And, while Brian said the company will always cater to the needs of its shared hosting customers, Hawk Host doesn’t plan to slow down when it comes to delivering the latest infrastructure solutions.
“We’re proud of everything we’ve done, and we’re going to do it even better in the future,” he said.