TL; DR: Websavers.ca Owner Allen Pooley and Co-Founder Jordan Schelew have been helping site owners build web presence since the early days of the internet. So it’s no wonder that when the duo teamed up the result was a company hyper-focused on customer care and high-performing hosting solutions. We recently caught up with Allen and Jordan, who told us how, despite tremendous growth, Websavers.ca remains true to its core mission to deliver personalized support and empower entrepreneurs to realize their online business goals.
In the early- to mid-2000s, the hosting market was dominated primarily by large US-based companies that preferred the one-size-fits-all approach many found too impersonal. Facing long queues of support tickets and inboxes full of cut-and-paste answers to technical issues, many site owners — like Allen Pooley — sought out smaller, more hands-on providers. Dissatisfied with his previous host, Allen set out to explore Canada’s local hosting scene.
Meanwhile, Adam Bate and Jordan Schelew were attending Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. By this time, Adam had already launched and sold his own hosting company while attending high school. Itching for a new tech-driven venture, Adam suggested he and Jordan start a company together.
After graduating from a computer science program — and gaining a small client base — the two revamped their infrastructure, website, and software to take their business to the next level — launching the rapid rise to success of Websavers.ca.
Over the next few years, Websavers experienced tremendous growth that drew Allen’s attention.
“A few years ago, I was looking for a new web host, actually,” Allen said. “I came from one of the big name companies and was getting tired of the poor service.”
An avid tech enthusiast, Allen had been working on websites and servers since 2001, having built sites for numerous professional clients. After realizing that Websavers’s rapid growth and structural changes were managed by a simple two-man show, Allen decided to hop aboard the project, eventually becoming Owner and Lead Developer.
A Commitment to Listening to Customers to Meet Their Individual Needs
Just as Allen was drawn to Websavers for its local, personal take on service, Jordan and Adam wanted to distinguish their company from the larger, more dominant hosts of the time.
“As the industry became more competitive, we found that a lot of the bigger names were starting to buy up a lot of other providers,” Jordan said. “We decided to become the top contact for anything web-related, and we changed our whole model.”
Not only was Websavers a hosting company, but it was also a team of consultants seeking to make website management easier for everyone. Essentially, as Jordan noted, the goal was to “save” the web from becoming monopolized by giants with an impersonal approach.
The company’s consultation services extended beyond the existing client base and were open to anyone experiencing site issues or curiosities. By prioritizing the needs of site owners, Websavers’s client base grew significantly.
“We said: ‘Instead of just coming to us when you have a problem, come to us if you have any questions about your website or how people interact with it,’” Jordan said. “That really helped us come up with different ways to provide services that help customers.”
Common subjects for consultation include market strategies and search engine optimization.
Traditional Hosting That Gives Site Owners Greater Independence
While there are numerous options when it comes to building a site, many of the popular blog-based platforms lack the full functionality and reliability of traditional hosting. With traditional hosting, the webmaster actually owns his or her domain and can freely upload files to the site, letting them make the exact website they want.
“There’s tons of new website building platforms, but there’s always been a place for people who want to build something themselves, but without having any technical knowledge,” Jordan said.
Aside from greater control over one’s site, traditional hosting is often cheaper in the long run. For example, eCommerce services, such as Shopify, may require per-transaction fees in addition to a monthly subscription.
“We’ve overcome this, thanks almost entirely to the open-source community,” Jordan said. “WordPress has been one of the main reasons why people still prefer traditional hosting because customers fully own their website.”
In the absence of proprietary platform software, open-source tools offer expansive capabilities for little to no cost. In addition, the prices of traditional hosting plans are commonly based on factors such as server size, speed, and bandwidth. This makes scaling much easier for a steadily growing online business, as prices are predictable and the decision to upgrade is ultimately in the hands of the site owner.
As Websavers embraces both a hands-on and DIY approach, it provides a tremendous amount of help through its knowledgebase, blog, and managed WordPress platform. Websavers offers both partially and fully managed WordPress, with basic services like backups and automatic updates available in all baseline packages.
“To many providers, offering managed WordPress hosting means providing the tools for self-management,” Jordan said.
Jordan compared Websavers’s baseline managed offerings with the expensive packages offered by competitors.
“Fully managed means we’ll help you take care of that,” he said.
With fully managed WordPress, Websavers not only provides management tools and support, but will also manage the installation at the client’s request.
The Mission: To Be Canada’s Most Helpful Provider
Given Allen’s personal experience, the Websavers team is no stranger to the ups and downs of website management. In keeping with its original, consultative approach, Websavers is primarily focused on making the web a better place for site owners and end users alike.
“We bring peace of mind to a lot of people, like when we had a client looking to hire a web person for her company,” Allen said. “No one in her company knew about hosting, and they had recently lost their designer. Things just weren’t in a great spot for them.”
Upon reaching out to Websavers, the team provided her with a wish list of things to look for in potential employees, and also offered to vet any incoming résumés.
“We’ll help you as best as we can, within the confines of what we can do,” Allen said.
Jordan and Allen told us nearly all Websavers’s progress has been externally driven. Once again, maintaining open communication with customers has proven to be one of the biggest benefits for both parties.
“It’s probably 90% to95% discussions with customers about how they’ve tried to solve problems,” Jordan said. “Then we think about how we can get ahead of this so that it’s quicker and easier for them to solve those problems.”
Customers also give direct feedback on what works and what doesn’t, allowing Websavers to gauge the most effective tools and methods, as well as see what needs improvement. In turn, Websavers is better equipped to provide effective services and suggestions that help online businesses flourish.
Transforming The Hosting Landscape With Better Site Optimization
Websavers has migrated all its customers to purely Canadian-based infrastructure. The central location, along with the powerful hardware its datacenter provider employs, results in optimal speed and performance for clients around the globe. The host’s staff works out of Halifax, NS, and Allen and Jordan work remotely, with periodic meet ups and Skype discussions. Overall, the Websavers team has more than 20 years of combined IT experience, as well as on-hand technical expertise.
With its vast network and far-reaching influence, Websavers is determined to transform the hosting landscape with hands-on help and overall better quality of service.
“We’ve been working over the last several months to optimize resources using some clever techniques, like moving backups to a separate storage system,” Jordan said. “We’re also working on some locally focused marketing techniques, and we’re excited to see where that goes.”
Migrating stored backups to their own system reduces the I/O load on a website’s server, allowing it to load faster.
When Adam and Jordan began growing Websavers into a full-fledged hosting company, they decided to focus primarily on customer service and ease of use. Similar to Google’s “Do no Harm,” Websavers adopted “Do What’s Right” as its code of conduct. In doing so, the company attracted a mass of clients who were unsatisfied with their previous hosts. By emphasizing the importance of independent site ownership and management, Websavers has enabled many site owners to pursue a DIY approach while still having a strong safety net of support — effectively saving their websites from poor service.