Well, I haven’t started yet, but getting started on shared hosting, so I only can kinda answer the first question.
1) What did you think you could offer that someone else hadn’t?
There is a lot of competition that’s for sure, but I haven’t seem anyone offering a high performance hosting solution. Some offer NVMe but don’t offer LiteSpeed and vice versa, some offer Litespeed but dont offer LSCache (wordpress makes ~ 25% of known websites), and LSCache is a really good plugin for wordpress. Some offer 1x low frequency CPU core. Some offer email spam filtering, but don’t guarantee deliverability with MailChannels.
The idea is to create a AIO somewhat cheap package, to have a high performance hosting and with the right limitations so there is not bottlenecks. And thanks to modest prices, not having to oversell the node, because that would be counterproductive.
A marketing plan is already made, server is configured, now all is left is to finish a few small things on the website to increase the ROI on ads.
Started out looking for servers to run Minecraft on. Found the VPS market and the players, the one man shows vs the corporate giants. It seemed like a really intriguing market where one could pick themselves up off the ground and make something of themselves.
Q: what did you think you could offer that someone else hadn’t?
Not being jaded by the industry, looking out for customers on a more personal level. I called it “context-based system administration” because, with OpenVZ, it was no secret that I new what process was using all of that CPU. How I’d react was based on that, and not just “let live vs kill” but “oh this is a website, traffic looks like legitimate pattern, I should support their usage and prioritize their needs.” Maybe a lot of people do that, but there’s also more than enough that just say “X% CPU? Bye.”
Q: was it just for fun or did you intend to try and make serious money from it?
A bit of both.
Q: how tough were the first few months?
Q: how long did it take before you felt it was successful?
I don’t know that I ever felt successful completely. There have been days where I propped up my feet and said “Damn, I built something that won’t stop growing, it just paid for _____.” But then next week I might feel like a complete failure because of my expectations of myself when something unexpected happens.
Q: would you do it again?
Yeah, only if I could do it over again I’d like to skip college. That was a waste of money.
Q: what do you feel you learnt along the way?
To trust my instincts, and that a person can fuck up in a lot of ways and survive it if they genuinely feel bad about it and make no attempts to cover up their failure.
I had started just renting out spare resources on a reseller I had, there was a demand increase within the community I was a part of, so I expanded and started selling ever since. When I was selling personally and not under a company, there was no pressure to profit, but the first three months as a company were pretty up and down, honestly. A small shuffle in ideas and such, kept it simple and now I’m here.
Perhaps to others I may not be all that successful, but as soon as @WSS (Or anyone else who has) posted positive remarks on threads, that’s pretty much where I can differentiate between starting off and feeling like you’re actually making somewhat of an impact. The numbers are only important to an extent, so gaining some customer feedback is definitely what makes it good.
I feel I’ve learned a lot about decision making, I think with the knowledge and experience I have now, if I were to start again, the beginning wouldn’t be so bumpy. I’m hoping it’s only up from here, still keeping it simple
The first few months were the easiest. Maybe 2-3 tickets a day, answer them quickly, and then spend a lot of time playing with the servers and trying different things out. Researching datacenters, software, servers, etc. was fun. At that time, it very much felt more like a hobby than a job. I remember naively thinking how easy running a business was, and I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. Woops.
3 years in, things are a bit different. Tickets are no longer a passive activity - they’re nearly constant at this point. When we first launched, I’d be able to take a whole day to myself and my business wouldn’t care. Nowadays, I end up feeling guilty if I go out to see a movie or something because I know there’s probably some work to be done somewhere.
I have an immense amount of respect towards people like Francisco, who’ve been doing this for 10 years.
I started my own after my old business partner sold his business (I had no paper ownership, just a contract worker despite my role). Didn’t want to let my experience in game hosting (at the time, since I mainly do VPS now) go to waste, plus I wanted to do something “right” that I was in control of. Learning from the mistakes that the others I worked with or saw in the past made, which caused missed opportunities or lost clients, and made sure those were avoided. I did have the chance to work with some other great people that own other much larger businesses that’ll remain unnamed, but I undervalued myself at the time, and was kind of lazy to stick with set salaried hours. Kind of ironic I can get up for a local 10 hour shift but I couldn’t get up for a shorter remote shift!
Tough? Not necessarily, just need dedication and know how to manage money properly. I worked a full time job alongside my business for some time, but I quit after a while because I didn’t want to have to push longer ticket responses on a growing client base, and I wouldn’t want to hire someone to do that without being able to pay them a good salary.
Despite just selling game and VPS on primarily OVH, which obviously some in the field have disgust for (and some rightfully so, I would’ve done colo with their protection if it were an option), I’d consider it successful, but I’m very minimal.
There’s never a time you can’t do better, with anything.