TL; DR: With a classically modest startup story, EGIHosting is now an international provider of highly available dedicated servers and colocation facilities based in the heart of Silicon Valley. CEO Sally Simkiss unpacks the hosting company’s rich history, featuring a service experience that required little-to-no marketing and still led to a waiting list for customers. The founders’ personal experience building a startup from the ground up makes EGI an ideal partner to kick-start your startup’s explosive growth story.
A hosting company’s early days are very telling. The bootstrapped stories of screwing together servers in home garages often lead to the most successful entrepreneurial ventures. Simply put, hosting providers whose founders built every aspect of the company from the ground up understand what it takes to launch and grow a business. And that’s what the vast majority of hosting customers aspire to do.
Take EGIHosting, a highly redundant dedicated hosting service provider, as a perfect example.
“We were about as small as you can possibly be in that my husband built the first servers on our living room floor and then drove them down to Ashburn, Virginia,” said Sally Simkiss, CEO of EGI. “I think bandwidth cost us about $350 a megabit at the time.”
That was 2003. EGI entered the hosting market via the gaming niche with Counter-Strike servers. The company later added audio and video streaming to the mix of services provided. As hosting experts will tell you, both gamers and streamers take hardware performance uber seriously. So, exploring the idea of EGI owning bare-metal servers was a natural next step. Sally told us the founding team followed the same protocol with each new venture: buy what they could, build on their own, and then grow.
It’s a formula for success that EGI has shown to be repeatable, and the hosting provider wants its customers to share in the scaling potential.
From Building Servers At Home to Breaking Ground on a Datacenter
The EGI crew spent some time co-locating machines throughout the United States before settling into the company’s home base in the Santa Clara, California, area.
“It was then we decided to be masters of our future,” Sally said. “We decided, perhaps naively, to build our own datacenter.”
So, the company broke ground on a 71,000-square-foot warehouse “right smack in the middle” of one of the most fiber-rich areas of Silicon Valley, according to Sally. It was an ideal location, a startup founder’s dream — and a milestone the infamous COVID-19 pandemic could have easily sabotaged.
“We were very lucky,” Sally said. “We completed our build project and had migrated all of our servers out of all other datacenters literally within a month before California started shutting everything down.” That flagship datacenter houses EGIHosting and provides colocation under the brand OpenColo.
After a close finish, the EGI datacenter facility opening marked a new chapter for the dedicated hosting provider. We’re calling it EGI’s era of crazy growth.
“We’ve had waiting lists for customers interested in our dedicated servers,” Sally said. “This spoiled us a little bit because we’ve never really had to think very much about marketing.”
However, in our experience, some of the best products and services serve as their own marketing. Word-of-mouth goes a long way in the web hosting world. And it was through word-of-mouth that EGI acquired one of its unique niche customer bases: Chinese resellers of dedicated servers, who now account for a large chunk of the EGI client base. Sally said the demand is such that EGI now has two Chinese-speaking staff members to ensure the company meets these reseller hosting customers’ needs.
Serving Startups and Resellers with Highly Available Servers and Staff
As EGI’s growth trends upward, the team is ready to help its customers realize the same success for their organizations. The billing and sales teams are on the clock seven days a week, and customer support is available 24 hours a day.
“I would dare say our customer support is second to none,” Sally said. “We’re very entrepreneurial… It’s our independence and flexibility (that sets us apart).”
EGI extends the highly available server performance expectations to its customer service model, enabling the company to seamlessly accommodate a broad range of clientele. Whether you’re buying your first cabinet of servers, or perhaps a half, or you want a custom build requiring a full cage of dedicated bare-metal machines, EGI welcomes startups of all sizes. Custom configurations are well within the company’s wheelhouse.
“If we can design and we can deploy it, we will,” Sally said.
EGI’s Upcoming Pipeline: Online Ordering and Streaming Services
As EGI continues to scale — empowering its customers to do the same — the hosting company is looking to streamline the onboarding process, among other small-but-mighty operational improvements. After all, when you’re physically screwing together servers in your living room, you likely aren’t thinking about an online checkout system. During a company’s early days, the goal is to land that one significant client that signals success for your startup dream.
Looking ahead, EGI is excited to finally get around to some of those business staples that don’t make sense when you’re riding the word-of-mouth wave of a marketing-free startup story.
“Currently, people are mainly emailing us and telling us what they want, and then we deploy it, usually pretty quickly,” Sally said. “But we know people want to click, click, click and see what’s available.” The website will list what’s available and instantly deployable, and customers can place orders online in seconds.
Sally’s also looking forward to redeveloping the company’s audio and video streaming services. “Not everything has to be YouTube, right?” she said. “People want to embed their own videos and their own tutorials on their website — and not everyone wants the YouTube branding.”
A rework of the company’s streaming services would help EGI customers keep their website visitors on their sites — consuming their content rather than bouncing to the next influencer ad or streaming distraction.
These new developments uniquely position EGI for growth — and the company facilitates growth for its hosting customers who are embarking on startup journeys of their own.