TL; DR: As the web hosting division of New York-based development agency Psionic Studios, MaiaHost connects aspiring site owners and developers with the technical expertise needed to effectively run and manage the world’s most popular content management system. Originally a trailblazer of the cheap shared hosting market, MaiaHost now concentrates on security-focused managed WordPress services known for producing impressive uptime rates. Founder Venetsian Jakimov shared with us how his team leverages the Divi theme and page builder to spin up secure sites with custom configurations and support.
As Venetsian Jakimov will tell you, he’s been on the internet since before Google. A software engineer by trade, Venetsian started building his first website in the mid-1990s and explored the early concepts of search engine optimization and content management systems; he even built a CMS with functionality similar to WordPress, backing off only when maintenance and support became too time-intensive.
“As I created all this stuff, I tried to find the best ways to safeguard my own websites plus those of my clients,” he said. “I tried to provide everything I could for the smallest amount possible.”
Today, Venetsian continues that customer-focused mantra through his companies, Psionic Studios and MaiaHost. After initially concentrating on web development and site creation, Venetsian expanded into web hosting — first by offering prices less than a third of what competitors charged, and now by providing high-touch, secure, and stable managed WordPress hosting.
“The common nature of web development, especially with a relatively small business like ours, is there’s always a website out of date,” he said. “You pay someone to make your website, they make it, they leave it, and they forget about it. You end up with chores, you can’t change anything because you’re not a technical person, you can’t contact your developer, and you have a problem. But you can call us. We can change it for you and stay by your side for however long you need.”
Early Days of Development and Pioneering the Cheap Hosting Market
After nearly a decade of developing websites for clients, Psionic Studios branched out into web hosting as a way to connect customers to a cost-effective and secure hosting platform that echoed the same philosophies the developers implemented in their websites.
“We had developed so many websites and regularly had to pay other companies to host them,” Venetsian said. “We figured why not buy a server and start hosting our projects there? If someone else wants to have good hosting, it’s fine because we’re already managing the server.”
So MaiaHost launched in May 2006 as a full-service provider emphasizing affordability. Venetsian said he initially hoped to support a whole stable of content management systems and software applications but quickly found the management to be overwhelming. The company elected to specialize in WordPress, which debuted three years earlier.
At a time when shared hosting providers regularly charged between $12 and $20 per month, MaiaHost burst out of the gates charging only $3.95 per month — landing it on the first page of Google results for cheap hosting.
“Back then, it was MaiaHost and Dot5,” he said. “We were the cheapest hosting provider on the internet that was offering PHP and WordPress. We were competing with everyone else on the market, but we weren’t a big fish. We were just a tiny company doing its own thing.”
Customized Configurations and Support for Managed WordPress
As MaiaHost began attracting a more tech-savvy customer base around WordPress development, the company shifted its focus away from budget-minded hosting and began concentrating on providing web designers and developers with the high-quality technical chops and professional infrastructure management to run optimized and protected websites.
“WordPress is its own niche,” Venetsian said. “It’s one of the largest software programs on the internet, and the most helpful. It’s pretty good and pretty stable, but it requires some specific hardware, settings, and security to really perform.”
At MaiaHost, that entails managed security, 24/7 monitoring, and free backups and restorations. The company’s special mix of services, experience, and support have delivered 100% uptime for the past six or seven years, according to Venetsian, with MaiaHost reaching 99.99% uptime for its 12 years of existence.
Day-to-day operations at MaiaHost revolves around supporting current customers and keeping them happy. The company’s developers have built such a strong reputation that MaiaHost doesn’t actively produce marketing campaigns — their work and talent are enough, Venetsian said.
“We do whatever the designers can spin up,” he said. “We’ll do the whole configuration and sometimes help them with plugins and other issues. They’re the creative folks, so they can’t necessarily figure out what tiny things to change that can make a whole lot of difference.”
Streamlining Web Development Through Divi Theme and Page Builder
With web development services driving much of MaiaHost’s business, the company has taken WordPress a step further by funneling new projects through the Divi drag-and-drop builder by Elegant Themes.
“This is the best, most magnificent software ever developed for WordPress,” Venetsian said. “WordPress is a magnificent thing, but the add-ons and plugins are really what makes it shine. It’s what makes a big difference with WordPress, it lets you style the websites in a very easy manner without having to do any type of HTML coding.”
To Venetsian, the Divi theme and page builder outshines the WordPress WYSIWYG interface as well as the Gutenberg drag-and-drop editor because of its rich functionality, ease of use, and stability. He estimated his team launches a new site for a client every two or three days and called Divi 20 times better than Gutenberg.
“Gutenberg is still being developed, and Divi is already on Version 3.5,” he said. “What they have given the WordPress community is enormous. I cannot express the opportunities they have given us.”
Divi enables users to set and adjust their layouts using a wide variety of elements and customizations. Although he admitted the platform was a bit more resource-heavy than he’d like, Venetsian particularly appreciates the ability to add animations without code and called Divi an incredibly cost-effective solution.
MaiaHost Concentrates on Boosting WordPress Security
As the technical experts in the host-client relationship, Venetsian said much of his team’s time is spent securing WordPress sites and making sure customers can do what they need to without exposing vulnerabilities.
In addition to managed security and around-the-clock monitoring, MaiaHost developed proprietary software that enables clients to access the WordPress dashboard in a way that no one else can attack.
“It’s like a nightmare or a war zone out there,” he said. “If I opened up the server right now, I’m going to find five or six attacks happening right now. It’s unbelievable.”
MaiaHost prioritizes WordPress security by restricting access to particularly vulnerable areas of the infrastructure or a specific website. Running a software firewall will also give users and admins early clues, he said, as to whether any components are outdated or no longer supported.
“You’ve got to update everything and make sure you’re using the most secure add-ons,” Venetsian said. “That’s the thing with open-source software: You can download things from all over the internet and you don’t necessarily know whether it’s secure, supported, or even professionally coded.”
But the beauty of WordPress — which Venetsian said outperforms Drupal in terms of security — is the rich community that passionately and continually works to strengthen and fortify the platform.
“I adore WordPress because they’re taking the time to fix any problems,” Venetsian said. “It’s backed by a huge team of website developers who spend a lot of time finding bugs and fixing them.”