Maximise your startup's chances of success: begin with your web hosting

Written by David Kramaley
Being a startup founder can be tough. Prominent serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, has compared starting a company to eating glass. There are financial struggles, unpaid time, website downtime, taxes, accounting, and many other challenges (GDPR anyone?). It soon becomes obvious what Elon meant.

So, how can founders go from such adverse circumstances to prosperity and success? We recently raised £100,000 from investors and eventually closed on even more. To achieve that, we have needed every little advantage we could get. Regardless of how small, these advantages add up. In this post, I will share what I consider one of the important things we did right on our path to growth and success.

When your business depends on your web site, choosing fast and reliable web hosting is a must. These are seemingly simple things that if you get wrong, can come back to haunt you. Regardless of which web host you choose, you should look for the following things:

1. Staying secure and preventing hacking

Possibly one of the biggest pain points you will come across as a founder. I started one of my first online ventures as a teenager and reached tens of thousands of members within days. It truly went viral before viral was a thing. However, success brings attention, and within a week it was hacked. It never recovered, and it was always playing catch up from there on.

Overnight, a hack can get you blacklisted by Google and cost you thousands in lost business. Since then I have gained a degree in Computer Science and took many classes in Internet Security. I have now many years of industry experience. Despite all that, I can honestly attest that staying secure can be a never ending game of cat and mouse.

Will you stay secure or will the hackers break through? This is where a good managed web host comes in as they will take care of critical updates and patches for you. A good host will also recommend website security packs and malware scanning. Our web host Kualo has gone above and beyond. In particular I very much enjoyed their recommendation of BitNinja. Security software like this not only adds an extra layer of protection, but helps speed up your web site by blocking automated hacking attempts. When you work so hard starting something up, it is almost essential to know that everything is safe and secure. This leads us straight to the next point.

2. Good Backups

In my previous company we had a dedicated CTO. He took care of back ups for us. Regularly creating back ups and ensuring their integrity can be a daunting task. Fortunately, a good web host will recommend the right solution for you. This can be the built-in default back up solution, or a custom solution suited to your needs. Our custom solution guarantees that if something were ever to go wrong, we are prepared. Check your back ups. Check that your web host has the right solution for you. The basics would have never been enough for us.

3. A web host who can fill in for your CTO

Even if you are a technical founder, sometimes your to-do list will be so long that any help is appreciated. This is why we are eternally grateful to the volunteers who have lent us a helping hand. Moreover, Kualo’s managed web hosting service has almost been like having a CTO on call, giving us help with things that normally cost an arm and a leg.

For instance, we have gotten help migrating to the latest version of PHP, implementing https and even help optimising our web site speed and performance. All of this is despite the fact that we run custom code which is much harder to maintain than say, WordPress. Even if you are a technical superstar and DevOps is but a game to you; I am sure you too would appreciate having someone at the other end of the line when you really need it.

4. Customer support that cares

As a final point, I have always been a major advocate of good customer service. I think in this day and age having a successful business is not enough. True success should be defined as not only doing well, but doing so ethically while treating your customers right. Take a hint, Uber! At Chessable we try our very best to live this every day, and we are fortunate that Kualo has gotten this right for us. A good customer service experience feels like you are in charge of it yourself. On the other hand, bad customer service will make you feel no one cares. This can drive you to despair. You do not need this extra stress when starting up. So please pick a web host with a good reputation for customer service.

Our web hosting may not be as cheap as a self-setup solution or perhaps a cheaper competitor. We are even paying a bit extra for the “fully managed solution.” However, the time saved due to this, plus the peace of mind knowing that our data is in good hands, has been worth every penny.

We’ve made the most of this competitive advantage. We have used this setup to channel all of our extra energy into developing a product people love. Therefore, I am convinced, whether you choose Kualo or something else, as long as you consider the points which I’ve raised, success will be that much closer. No one wants to chew glass every day. Good luck.

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About the Author

David Kramaley is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Chessable, an ed-tech startup that makes it easier to learn chess. Chessable uses learning-science techniques and gamification to improve how players learn and master the game.

David hosted his projects with Kualo since 2011; before ever taking chess seriously. Fast-forward seven years, and out of all of his projects we hosted, Chessable has come to the forefront and continues to grow.