TL; DR: Hostek has focused on providing managed server solutions centered on the customer experience since its inception in 1998. The company’s values come directly from Founder Brian Anderson, whose primary concern is eliminating server worries so customers can focus on what’s important: their businesses. With US-based support around the clock; shared, VPS, dedicated, and reseller solutions free from annual contracts; a new location in the UK; and enhanced product offerings on the way, Hostek is continuing to focus on customer happiness above all else.
When Brian Anderson says he loves helping people, it’s not just lip service. Throughout his life, Brian’s passion for assisting others has driven him to learn new technologies, sharpen his problem-solving skills, and ultimately launch his own hosting company.
In 1998, Brian was working as a developer for a tech company when a few of his acquaintances reached out with unusual requests. “They contacted me within a week or two of each other,” he said. “They both were like, ‘Hey, just hearing about this World Wide Web thing — can you get me a website?’ I never back down from a challenge, so even though I had no idea what I was doing, I said, “Yea, I can do that.’”
Brian did his research, signed up for a reseller account, and got the sites up and running. “That was the humble beginning of Hostek,” he said. “At the time, I thought it could be a cool little side business.”
In 2001, so that he could juggle both jobs, Brian hired two people to manage Hostek during the day. Later that year, Intuit acquired Brian’s employer at the time but wanted to retain him as a developer. “I was upfront with them about my little side business, which was too small to get me by at the time,” Brian said. “I’d do my normal job and then I would work on Hostek from around 5 p.m. until around 3 a.m.,” he said.
Intuit requested Brian let go of Hostek, either by selling the company or shutting it down entirely. “They told me they’d give me three months to make that decision,” he said.
Brian didn’t need the time. “After two months, I decided I’d never get this opportunity again and started managing Hostek full time,” he said. “It would have been so much easier just to fold up shop and work for Intuit — I could clock in, clock out, and have a full weekend. But there’s nothing like knowing we’ve helped our customers solve problems.”
Today, as CEO of Hostek, Brian’s goal is to provide the best customer support possible, whether that means helping sites load more quickly, improving uptime, or implementing managed server solutions. And, with hosting solutions free from annual lock-in, continually expanding datacenters, and new managed services on the horizon, the company is intent on beating its best.
Around-the-Clock Technical Support From a US-Based Team
Brian told us a lot of his customers find Hostek after traveling a winding road of other providers. In that way, Brian said, Hostek is somewhat of a hidden gem. “We get customers all the time who are like, ‘Man, I wish we’d have found you a long time ago — we tried this company, and this company, and this company…but we weren’t happy,'” he said.
Where those companies struggled, Brian would shine. “I get such great satisfaction from taking care of customers,” he said. “I’ve always felt like I can solve problems better than anybody — and I don’t mean that in a condescending way. If you give me an opportunity, I can make it work.”
As you might imagine, Brian sets the bar high when it comes to his customer service team. “I made a commitment early on to both my customers and my team that we would never outsource our support — even if it puts us at a disadvantage from a cost standpoint,” he said. “I would rather take care of customers properly than put a dollar in my pocket.”
Brian also ensures customers’ needs are met 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. “From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to provide around-the-clock service, but I couldn’t do it myself initially,” he said. “I hired a guy with a strong work ethic, and between the two of us, we did a great job.”
The staff has expanded since then, and standards have remained high. In fact, Hostek now aims to serve all customers within a 20-minute response period. “That’s our goal — and that doesn’t mean we’ve just looked at the ticket by that time,” Brian said. “It means we’ve found a resolution.”
Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and Reseller Solutions Free From Annual Lock-In
For the most part, Hostek serves small and medium-sized businesses, but it also caters to some Fortune 500 companies, large universities, and cities. The company provides a wide range of managed hosting options to its clients, from shared hosting for those just starting out to VPS and dedicated resources for businesses that require high performance and availability. In addition, Hostek offers various reseller products.
Brian told us Hostek began providing virtual servers in 2012. “Realistically, we were probably two or three years late to that in my opinion, but I’m not the type who will just throw something out,” he said. “When I do it, it’s going to be solid.”
So he waited until the time was right. “We actually got ourselves fully virtualized in our own environment first, and then I felt comfortable going out and offering the service to customers,” Brian said.
Brian’s customer-centric mentality also extends to plan terms: He refuses to lock clients into long-term contracts. “A lot of hosts out there require people to sign a year-long commitment, but we’re month to month,” he said. “That’s because I want to prove to customers every single month that I deserve their business.”
He makes that case each month through performance and customer support. “We offer a performance difference and a support difference, and when you combine the two, it’s powerful,” he said. “I look at some of my competitors and see what kind of hardware they’re using, and it becomes obvious why they’re only charging so much.”
Continually Expanding Datacenters, Including a New Location in the UK
Strategically located across the globe, the company’s datacenters include Tier 3 facilities in Missouri and Virginia and a Tier 4 location just outside of London. The St. Louis location, valued for its central position within the US, is the company’s flagship datacenter. The UK location is newer, acquired October 2017.
“It’s been cool to learn about a different culture and harness the synergy between both companies,” he said. “Since the UK company, Hostek Limited, is six hours ahead of us, they’re able to help the Hostek team during off hours.”
The Hostek US team remains staffed around the clock, but Hostek Limited assists as well. “We basically got some extra overnight guys in a way,” Brian said. “It was a terrific deal all around.”
At the end of the day, Brian said he’d rather have staff on board in case of an emergency than risk not providing customers the service they deserve. “There are times when our guys are sitting around doing nothing — and I’m perfectly OK with that,” he said. “I would rather have that happen than cause our response times to go down.”
The fact that all datacenters are manned 24/7 also increases security. Hostek has multiple levels of security in place beyond that, including biometric access control, continuous closed-circuit television surveillance, and required photo ID access cards. In addition, the company has taken precautions to ensure servers receive proper power, including the installation of redundant power grid feeds, uninterruptible power supply systems, and diesel generators.
Next Up: WordPress Optimization and Managed Services for AWS
Never satisfied with good enough, Hostek is working to provide enhanced product offerings in hopes of making customers’ lives easier. “I just want to help our customers, no matter what platform they use,” Brian said.
To that end, Hostek is currently developing a WordPress-optimized hosting solution. “We’re working on including a lot of value-add in terms of security and speed, and every single piece is geared toward WordPress,” Brian said. “A few of our customers already know about this, and they’re really excited.”
Over the years, Brian has observed his clients’ growth patterns and noticed a trend: Once a company has multiple investors, they tend to push for solutions through AWS. “We’ve had cases where investors require a company or startup to move to AWS, so we’re actually starting to manage servers for customers on platforms other than our own to better serve those customers.”
To mark this path forward, Hostek even signed on to be a sponsor at the AWS annual conference in Las Vegas later this year. “Becoming a sponsor this year has been exciting, and a few of our team members have already become AWS Certified Solutions Architects,” Brian said.
Whether he’s helping clients on his platform or someone else’s, Brian remains rooted in his guiding principle — to help people. “It doesn’t matter what platform they use,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, and all we want to do is help customers improve their situations.”