kinsta team

How to Start a Web Hosting Business: An Interview with Tom Zsomborgi of Kinsta

If you think running a WordPress site is hard, then you haven’t worked for a web hosting company.

Being at the mercy of your clients, you need to provide blazing-fast loading speed and reliable customer support in this cutthroat market.

While most companies fold even before they get started, others like Kinsta are most than up for the challenge.

Known as one of the best hosting platforms around, Kinsta knows how difficult and rewarding it is to offer WordPress users hosting packages that fit their needs.

I was able to get hold of Tom Zsomborgi, CFO of Kinsta, for a quick chat about their business. We also discussed how they were able to establish themselves as one of the top web hosts in the market and tips to help users build an optimised site using WordPress.

Whether you’re into building a web hosting business or looking to improve your current site’s performance, you must read this interview!

Interview with Tom Zsomborgi, Chief Financial Officer of Kinsta

1. Tell us a little about yourself – who you are, what you do, your background and what you enjoy doing outside of work?

My name is Tom Zsomborgi, I’m the CFO and one of the co-founders of Kinsta, a premium managed WordPress hosting provider.

I have an MBA and no specific technical background but I’ve always been intrigued by the opportunities the web can provide entrepreneurs. We can say I somewhat found myself in the internet industry.

When I don’t spend time working, I love reading books on history and science. But what helps me the most to really disconnect from work is hiking and wandering around in nature.

customer support kinsta quote

2. How did you become the Chief Financial Officer at Kinsta? What was the journey that got you to where you are now? Was there a learning curve from transitioning to a job at a web hosting company?

In the early days of a company, you wear many hats. You answer support tickets, you do sales, you manage your Content Marketing workflow, you take care of paid ads, and a lot of other additional tasks.

I did end up managing our finances because, drum roll please, someone had to start tracking revenue, investments, and expenses.

I should say I’ve always enjoyed numbers, stats, metrics, and the like but there isn’t a special reason behind role here at Kinsta.

3. What made you decide to start a web hosting company? What’s your process that resulted in this decision?

Kinsta was originally founded by four of us: Mark Gavalda (currently our CEO), Anita Dunai (currently Head of Local Operations), Peter Sziraki, and myself.

Before we gave life to Kinsta, we were already providing web design and web development services to our clients. And — here’s the interesting part — we noticed one thing that grabbed our entrepreneurial mind:

Almost every time we finished a project, clients asked us where and how they should host their new website.

Most of those clients were lacking the technical knowledge to set up and maintain their own server environment so this wasn’t an option.

To provide them with some help, we used to refer them to some well-known yet third-party providers. At the end of the day, though, both our clients and we weren’t satisfied with the level of support and service provided.

That was the Eureka moment, right there, for the four of us!

Those cheap hosts performed awfully, while the best ones usually charged more than our clients wanted to spend. That’s where we saw an opportunity we wanted to explore, not to mention how promising the recurring revenue model looked to all of us. That’s how Kinsta was born!

4. What do you think helps you stand out among other web hosting companies in this very competitive niche?

The most important factor which set us apart from the competition is the level and the quality of the support we provide to our clients.

Our support agents are regularly in touch with all our clients: they are the ones who answer your questions or help you out when something goes wrong on your site.

Our expectations and standards are pretty high. Thus, not everyone is qualified high enough to work in support.

3% only of all candidates who apply for a support role here successfully go through the whole hiring process. We don’t have different levels of support like most of the hosting companies. All our support team members are skilled and knowledgeable enough to answer your questions.

They are experienced WordPress developers who know everything about WordPress, which is a key requirement to provide fast and outstanding tech support to clients. On top of that, we are not some faceless corporation and people appreciate this aspect a lot. We have an incredible team that keeps growing with extremely talented professionals!

Kinsta wordpress developers working

5. How important is targeting the right audience? It seems like most companies target small business owners with their hosting services. Do you have a certain process for this?

It’s important, of course. But sometimes it’s easier said than done.

First, you need to identify your buyer persona and figure out where they hang out.

What kind of sites do they visit regularly? How and from which sources do they get their information they need to run and improve their business? What channels do they use the most to retrieve info? Is it a simple Google search, Youtube videos? What else? Maybe more traditional ways like printed magazines?

Most of the hosting companies targeting small businesses make sense. With a global service, the number of potential clients is tens of millions or even more.

Usually, these are small deals and the time to close a deal is short compared to large clients. The key here is that you need lots and lots of clients to support and eventually even grow your business because these clients pay you a small fee.

Targeting higher-end clients (enterprises, agencies, and big organisations) is more interesting/appealing from a  financial aspect. But you have to keep in mind that these clients have completely different requirements and companies in their early stages are not ready yet to fulfill their needs.

This is how things evolve, the same happened with Kinsta and now we serve some very large organisations we weren’t able to a few years ago. As your business evolves so does your client base.

6. What’s the one thing that people don’t know about hosting websites?

Even in 2019, when businesses need an online presence, most of them don’t realise the importance of web hosting.

Having a fast loading site can bring you the sales you need, serving 502 error pages could result in a lost lead. As a community, we have to keep educating the users and raise the bar when it comes to quality web services. The same applies to maintain a website.

I know, the time you can spend with regular maintenance on the complexity of the website but we shouldn’t forget that most business owners are not tech-savvy users or developers and that’s completely fine. They shouldn’t know how to update or customise a WordPress plugin to make it work or how to create a full backup of their site. That’s not the core of their business.

That’s why we always recommend delegating this aspect to someone who is specialised for this, especially if they’re small business owners.

Newt Labs is a great example, for a relatively small amount they can help you manage your website making sure everything is working fine. At the end of the day, you as a business owner will not just save time but money as well as you don’t have to act as a developer or sysadmin.

7. What’s the most difficult part of running a hosting company?

That’s a tough call to make! You are managing a development team to make sure requested features are in progress, you are constantly working on your current and next infrastructure staying one step ahead of the competition. You are serving thousands of customers and managing your team while also looking for and hiring the next talented people for the company.

It’s a complex and an always-changing process but I think this is just the nature of this business.

8. What do you think is the main reason for your company’s success so far?

Differentiation.

Right in the beginning, we knew that we had to be different and we had to provide a different level of service in order to compete with the established and well-funded hosting companies on the market. We did not want to become another budget/cheap hosting with mediocre performance and low-quality customer service.

We designed an infrastructure to make the most out of your WordPress site and we employ world-class talented professionals to help you when you open up a support ticket.

9. Any tips for site owners on how to optimise their WordPress websites?

There are some basic tips that everyone can implement such as running the latest PHP version, implementing a CDN, optimising your database, or just simply going through your plugins and delete any you don’t use anymore.

But if you want some serious performance improvement my teammate Brian Jackson, CMO at Kinsta, wrote a massive 25K+ words in-depth tutorial on the topic: How to Speed Up Your WordPress site.

on motivation to readers by tom

10. What are your productivity hacks in order to do what you do and keep moving forward?

I try to keep things organised around me.

One thing I don’t like is a full inbox so whenever possible I reply to my emails, usually within 12 or 24 hours.

If a newsletter isn’t providing me value anymore, then I unsubscribe immediately. This reduced my daily number of emails by 50% maybe even more.

Same applies to social media especially, for Twitter. Twitter for me is mainly for work and I follow just a handful of people and account to cut the noise.

Email or Slack is a perfect way to discuss the most important things and you don’t need a meeting or a conference call for everything.

11. Any words of motivation for our readers?

Consistency is key. Don’t give up too early – even if it takes 12 or 18 months to see any success. I know it’s hard to keep pushing it if you don’t see much results but be patient and you will be rewarded. Also, investing in connections and business relationships is one of the best things you can do. Start building relationships as early as you can.

12. As a managed WordPress hosting provider I’m sure you can understand the need for additional site care and support outside of hosting, how would you compare someone doing it alone/in-house vs having a team to take care of the technical aspects such as WordPress updates, backups, security monitoring and more such as what Newt Labs provide?

It’s a no brainer to go with a site care provider. Site owners can save so much time, thus money by letting real experts do their job and minimise issues.

The DIY approach applied to site care doesn’t seem a good business move to me. Especially, if you are lacking some technical background and you are not familiar with the basics of how a website works and what kind of regular maintenance tasks need to be performed. You’d better focus on your core business and let the tech guys do this for you!

Wrapping It Up

I hope you enjoyed our chat with Tom from Kinsta. To get in touch with Tom, follow or connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

And, of course, if you want to host your WordPress site on one of the highest-rated web hosts in the market, then Kinsta is for you! They offer various plans that suit the needs of different site owners – from small to enterprise-level businesses.

Unlike other companies, Kinsta offers dedicated support, PHP workers per site, unlimited migration from other hosts (!), and more. Check out their Plans page for more information.

Tom mentioned that Newt Labs is a prime example of a company that specialises in WordPress support and care. To his credit, we do take pride in helping WordPress users maintain their sites. We make sure that your sites are secure and are operating at optimum levels, among other things.

For now, we can offer you our 7-Day FREE Course to help keep your site safe from hackers, improve speed and performance, set up automatic backups, and other easy-to-do tasks to set your website right.

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About Christopher Jan Benitez

Christopher Jan BenitezChris is a professional content marketer and writer. He has helped small businesses achieve their goals by implementing a robust content strategy that emphasises unique selling points and promoting created content using effective online channels and methods.

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