Web host SiteGround first made a brief appearance on HostJury’s top rated host list earlier this year, before dropping back off, then reappearing again. Since that time, SiteGround has steadily climbed higher through the ranking. As we've done in the past, HJ decided to take a closer look at some of the inner workings of this company.
As detailed in the SiteGround company blog, what began as “simply not wanting to waste a few tickets we had”, quickly turned into a project to increase the company’s support of the Open Source communities. SiteGround has sponsored, and supported (as well as attended) a number of events like JoomlaDays and WordCamps all over the world.
SiteGround also got some press in recent days for their new user area. The redeveloped portal is designed to helps customers carry out administration and get the most from their hosting, including exclusive features that are not available in a web hosting control panel.
HostJury contacted SiteGround and asked if they’d mind answering a few questions about where they’ve been, and maybe where they want to go.
Possibly Levan Apriashvili, SiteGround’s Customer Care Supervisor may have had a different notion of what constitutes “a few questions”, but none the less he was a good sport and did fabulous!
HJ: Please tell us a little about SiteGround, historically speaking.
Levan: SiteGround was founded back in 2004, by a small team of a few people with some experience in web hosting and a few others with no experience whatsoever in the industry but with tons of enthusiasm. Today, 8 years later, we all have learned a lot and have become one of the most technologically advanced shared hosting companies. We employ more than 80 people and we serve more than 250000 domains.
HJ: Since SiteGround was launched, what are some of the biggest lessons that you have learned?
Levan: I would say there are two really important lessons we have learned. First, we learned to look for our own technological solutions where other hosting companies would never imagine such can be found. We are proud to have invented unique technologies like the account isolation on a shared server, or the multiple versions of PHP available on a single server.
The second lesson we learned is that the success on our company depends on the success of each of our customers. So we invest a lot in helping each person and our customer service goes well beyond what a standard hosting company support would ever do.
HJ: What would you consider as your accomplishments up to this point?
Levan: Accomplishment… we consider any happy customer as an achievement, any new project as an accomplishment, any positive customer feedback as a success.
One of the main things SiteGround has always stood for is bringing open source applications to the end users and showing them how easily they can both use those scripts and contribute to the community. Open source is freedom and that freedom should be shared by all of us on the web. It is amazing how easy it is to start a blog with WordPress and how much you can earn online with a e-store build with Magento.
But maybe from all the open source applications Joomla has always been the biggest inspiration to us and we will keep on spreading the word and doing the best we can to sustain the optimal environment for it.
HJ: Any failures you’d like to tell us about?
Levan: As a company with more than 8 years of experience and one of the top webhost worldwide, sure we have failures :) That is how we grew and became stronger. We do not deny failure and we take responsibility for it, everyone fails at something. But what we cannot accept is not trying at all.
Our biggest failure was internally called “Terminator 2”, anyone in the office knows that story, thank god our customers don’t ;) It did not affected our end users, at least not all of them and not permanently.
It was a newly launched internal system for terminating inactive hosting accounts. It was supposed to free up space and automate manual work. Well… after the launch it turned out that it cannot be controlled quite well and it went ahead and terminated a few active accounts. After a manual restore and the whole staff working overtime, we were able to fix everything.
Then… on the next day, guess what? – at the crack of dawn ”Terminator 2” was back and did exactly the same thing once again :)
(editor's note: cute story Levan.. love that shameless little plug about " top webhost worldwide".. it's a big world but you're getting there!)
HJ: Maybe this will have the same response but If you had to go back and change anything, what would top your list?
Levan: I think the question #4 about covers it :) so we might skip this one if you don't mind.
HJ: Can you talk about how SiteGround has powered its marketing efforts? What role does has social media played?
Levan: The majority of our clients have always come from referrals. When people like something and are happy with it they tend to spread the word. The social media serves as a natural accelerator and broadcasts the word of mouth to a wider range of people.
The thing about social media is that it always finds a way to rule out the bad from the good. For us it has always been great to have a supportive and happy community.
HJ: How has growth been? Has it met your expectations? Do you oversell?
Levan: We have certainly grown quite a bit. The two new offices we launched are housing an expanding staff and we will keep on hiring more people whenever our clients need more hands on deck.
We are not a start up company anymore, so we have quite a good idea about our growth patterns and the hardware is always set up before it is actually needed. So we are never in a situation to put more customers on one server, just because the next is not ready.
Otherwise, I do not think overselling has anything to do with the size of a company. You can have a single server with ten customers on it and still if you know that your server is actually good for 8 customers you will be overselling. Being such freaks about website speed, security and uptime, as we are, overselling is completely out of question. We would never make a compromise with the quality of our service.
HJ: Tell us about your control panel, is it based on cPanel?
Levan: We do provide cPanel, but it is actually a part of a larger customer postal: our User Area, which was recently completely redesigned. So apart from the vast functionality for managing each single hosting account that the cPanel offers we add the freedom of managing multiple accounts and domain names, all billing and support issues from a single place.
HJ: Does SiteGround manage any other brands in its fold?
Levan: Not yet, but we do have some ambitions plans :)
HJ: How active is the SiteGround community and does your business benefit from it?
Levan: We are very happy with the way our community support us. People will forever remain the driving force of this industry and we never forgot that giving back is also important.
We have a lot of fun, and always share it with our followers and fans. There have been numerous gifts as well as specials on holidays where everyone can be part of the scene. The greatest benefit is that you can read, see and listen to the feedback of the people who you work for. When they are satisfied, we are as well.
HJ: In my work, I view the offerings from various web hosts on a daily basis. They all appear to offer similar services and claim the exact same features set them apart from their counterparts. Resisting the urge to say “service” or “price”, what sets SiteGround apart from its competition?
Levan: I would say heart. That’s what makes us different. Heart is needed to be really passionate about what we do, heart is needed to be patient and to understand the needs of the people and heart is needed to overcome difficulties that most of the others consider inherent for the industry.
That is exactly what drives us to seek perfection and ensures server security and reliability though hours and hours of hard work and determination as well as a level of customer service that can only be achieved when you truly care for your customers.
HJ: What’s next for SiteGround? Can you talk about any new features in the pipeline?
Levan: There are many :) We have been nothing but ambitious all the way through and will continue to innovate and define what a hosting company should be.
Now that we have redesigned the user areas for our clients, a brand new site design is coming along as well. We have also planned several technological innovations for the next few months that will redefine what speed means in the shared hosting industry. Stayed tuned there is always something cooking in SiteGround! :)
Levan may "escalate" any future inquiries from HostJury (it was only 12 Q's), but for the record, our inquiry to SiteGround received very prompt responses.
Clients of SiteGround can share and review their experiences here!