Milan, 3 May 2018. Today we interviewed Simone Righini, Tophost Manager, who will share with us the vision of his company and the most relevant updates, news and insights.
Since the establishment date of Tophost, what vision did the company adopt from the very beginning of its operations?
Simone Righini: “From the early start, Tophost has adopted a precise vision – the company looks into providing the maximum value for its clients at the minimum prices. We strive to use professional infrastructure, while at the same maintaining low prices for everyday users by optimizing the standard nodes at the maximum rates.
The idea was to put a lot of small hostings inside big machines, which are the nodes. As a matter of fact, this system has already proved effective for the past 12 years. During these years, Tophost saw a lot of improvements and changes.
Yet, one of the key issues we always faced is the perception of the brand by the customers. It is widely known that consumers usually see the cost as the indicator of the quality. However, it is not always like this.
Our principal target was to make users understand that the value behind our product is significant. To make this possible, we have installed a software called MONITIS. This software provides an uptime status of all the nodes within our system. For about two years, and since the moment we introduced this feature, the uptime status of our server was always the highest in the market – at the moment, the figure stands at 99,99%.
On our website, we also have a badge called best price guarantee. This means that in case any of our clients find a better price on the market, we can match it. However, nobody has seen a lower price yet.
Some companies in the market offer their services for free during the first year, but the next year they might charge 30 euros. The bottom line is that when you compare Tophost pricing to other players in the market, no company can match our price list.
We also have another exciting offer, called “Buy us a coffee” for our clients when they renew their packages. They have the chance to pay either 1 euro less or 1 euro more, based on their experience. If they like the service and want to encourage us, they can pay 1 euro more for their package. In case they did not like something, they can pay 1 euro less.
We believe this approach is great for involving the customer in the decision process. This also gives us a lot of ideas regarding features that users would like to see.”
What is the crucial problem Tophost aims to solve? Primarily, who are the clients of Tophost?
Simone Righini: “As of the moment, Tophost is the perfect entry point for those people who are just starting their business but do not have a clear idea of the situation or whether their company will be successful or not.
Since we offer our hosting services at a relatively low price, around 6 euros per year, almost anyone can create their domain space. Starting from 10 euros per year, you can also get a database.
The idea is that we provide the opportunity to our clients to have their content and keep the rights for this content. This is as opposed to the case when companies try to establish online presence via Facebook pages. In this case, they do not have full control of the data they put online.
When you have your website, you have a lot of responsibilities, with one of these being the necessity of promoting your website so that it will have visitors. To aid users with all the first-time setting activities, we have WordPress one-click installer in place. Therefore, no coding skills are needed.
Our clients are people that have a limited budget for the hosting purpose. For example, a lot of our users are computer science schools, where teachers are explaining the web to the students. They teach them how to write their HTML, for instance.
Therefore, our clients are diverse, and they range from the classroom to the non-profit organizations.”
If we look back to 2017, which events inside Tophost can be highlighted as the most significant?
Simone Righini: “2017 has seen a constant flow of putting up the new features. For instance, we have improved a lot regarding automation – we use this to resolve the most common tickets from users. However, we are still looking into ways of how to enhance the assistance for our clients, since as of the moment, Tophost does not provide a lot of educational aid.
Coming back to the 2017 overview, we also have integrated new DNS compatible with DKIM, SPF, and SRV. We have adopted the new affiliation system, which works pretty great. Following on this, we have integrated the following features throughout 2017: new performance hosting panel and automatic backups, Google Safe Search checking on all the websites, and guide to optimizing WordPress hosting among many others.
All in all, it has been a hectic year with a lot of new functions being added to Tophost. We have noticed that with every new feature, new clients have appeared and in general, the results were outstanding. The new customers’ revenue has risen significantly during the past year (+26%). While in the previous years, Tophost has been experiencing some problems, 2017 has put the company back on track.”
In the second half of 2017, the company has registered +16.3% growth in bookings. What has prompted this growth?
Simone Righini: “We have made some Facebook posts to thank our clients for their commitment. The reaction we got was amazing – a lot of customers appeared to be very involved, as they also have shared these posts with their networks. Our customers really helped us grow in this sense.”
How did Tophost start the year? What happened within the company during the first months of 2018?
Simone Righini: “This year, we published the new backup product. This may be not the newest feature on the market, but for our company, it was a vital step. As of the moment, we are providing the backup for as much as 20 or 30 gigabytes. The normal practice in the market is to provide 1-gigabyte backup, therefore, to be able to provide such product, we had put a lot of effort into this idea.”
How do you see Tophost in the next 5 years? Which long-term goals the company plans to reach?
Simone Righini: “Right now, the company is pretty solid. Our primary goal now is to make new products, even more powerful ones. As a long-term goal, we want to expand into the professional area. While now we are the perfect match for the customer in their first years of experience on the web, we aim to advance our services to suit the above standard requirements.
Currently, Tophost is not able to handle some of the resource-intensive software. We are looking into developing concerning this matter and serving professional users, as well.”
Which trends are currently dominating web-hosting market in your opinion?
Simone Righini: “Right now, one of the biggest drivers for web hosting industry is the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). It can be seen as a mandatory trend from the community point of view. This regulation will be playing a significant role for our company in the current year since the EU officials believe that the privacy of web users should be preserved.
However, in reality, the users are totally unaware of their privacy rights. That is why making a mass of users to acknowledge their online rights and risks is such a difficult task.
In my opinion, this step should be taken by all the sectors, not only the web hosting industry. There is no doubt that web hosting sector is in the perfect place to start the movement since we are the last point between the website and the internet. What goes into our servers automatically goes online.
As of the moment, we have more than 130,000 active domains and more than 45,000 customers. Our crucial task right now is to communicate to the government in relation to the suspicious activity on any of these domains.
The web is continuously expanding, and the security is one of the critical issues that we have to address. I believe that the web security will remain as the key challenge, with even middle schools having special classes to educate students about online risks and the specifics of sharing the personal information.”