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This interview with Vic Dorfman of Speedkills.io (who used to host this site, I’m now with WP Engine) is part of the Productizing Services Resources Hub. I wrote a post on why I host[ed] with speedkills.
“Hey Vic, how do you describe speedkills?”
I would describe it as “Insanely fast WordPress hosting that is 100% managed for you.”
I started this company on the basis of a bold proposition:
Entrepreneurs and business owners not only do NOT have time to manage their hosting “stuff”, but they have no earthly business doing so!
For their own good, it’s something they should delegate to professionals.
Business owners have better things to do than to worry about their servers and all of the endless technical minutiae involved in keeping their websites working properly and securely.
Not only that, but the world of hosting is incredibly complex and encompasses a lot of other issues, such as security.
Therefore, you’d be wasting your time barely scratching the surface of a vast galaxy of rather technical topics instead of building your business.
In my opinion, if it’s reasonable to do so, this is something you should hand off to a team who specializes in exactly such things and to whom you can entrust your website.
We strive to be that team, and to treat our customers like family.
“Would you say it’s a produtized service, a SWAS (software with a service) or SAAS?!”
I see ourselves as a productized services company.
There are countless hosting providers that come in all shapes and sizes.
So while our servers and configurations blow most hosting companies out of the water, that’s not really the reason folks choose us.
People become customers of SpeedKills.io it allows them to delegate “hosting” (and everything related to it) to us and feel confident that we’re on it.
It’s the productization of our service.
Plus, we (the founding team) have other businesses that we run on the same exact infrastructure and administer in the same exact way as we do for our customers.
So when we say that we treat our customers’ websites as if they were our own, we literally mean it!
That includes making proactive optimizations, doing security patches, etc.
“Why did you launch the biz?”
The short version is that I was sick of crappy hosting.
I didn’t intend to start a business in this space
My initial goal was actually to figure out the fastest possible hosting setup for my own commercial websites so that I could secure a competitive advantage in my space (as you may know, speed is a powerful Google ranking factor).
When I figured that out it occurred to me that my MemberFix customers might want a competitive advantage too.
But I know my customers and I know the reason they delegate membership site tasks to me is because they don’t know much about membership sites technology, and they don’t much care.
They just want it to work and they’re more than happy to pay me to ensure that it does.
I figured, why can’t hosting be the same way?
Turns out, it can be.
I flatter myself that what we’re doing is disruptive.
I’m fine with indulging a little vanity if it means I get to champion the idea that hosting should be really fast, super secure, and totally headache-free for the customer.
“How big is your team and what’s the hardest part of scaling?”
Our team is 7 members strong and growing.
We’re a 100% distributed (remote) team.
Vic – Founder (Thailand)
Lesly – Co-founder (Thailand)
Udit – WordPress Wizard / Systems Admin (India)
Cristian – Security specialist / sys admin (Romania)
Viktors – Sys admin specializing in AWS (Latvia)
Denis – Developer, WordPress tech (Russia)
Roland – Producer for our podcast (USA)
Only Lesly and I are full time.
Everybody else works ad hoc and gets paid hourly.
We’re in the process of bringing on our first full time sys admin now.
To segue into the second part of your question, the most difficult part of scaling our business at this stage is finding stellar team members who we can afford to hire without completely wiping out or margins.
You have to pay terrific team members terrific wages and balance it with selling your product at a reasonable price.
But I’m confident we’ll attract the kinds of folks who want to work with us soon enough, and we’re taking active steps to make it happen.
“What’s your personal goal for the business? i.e. cashflow lifestyle biz vs exit?”
Strangely, I find my goals for the business changing as time passes and circumstances evolve.
Initially I was gung-ho about being a ‘proper’ entrepreneur, getting funding, doing a 3 year sprint and then exiting the business for a fist full of cash.
But now that we’re 5 months into this thing I’m leaning more towards a lifestyle business approach.
You see, In the first 3 months of working on SpeedKills.io I put my health and emotional happiness on the backburner.
I know you can commiserate with this situation because you’ve been there Richard!
I busted my butt (along with Lesly) to get our first customers, hire some great team members (even if they’re not full time), and put together the systems, processes and structures necessary to get myself out of operations and scale smoothly
We got a lot accomplished in a short amount of time but I felt unhealthy, physically and emotionally.
Getting rich and building a company are great goals and I’m going to keep working towards them diligently.
But I refuse to martyr my health and well-being in the process.
That’s why I left Chiang Mai and my 12 hour workdays behind.
Now I’m back in Phuket and I’ve found the right work / life balance.
I’m feeling healthy and productive again, jiu jitsu and working, beach and podcast episodes, good food and good friends.
Yin and yang, brotha.
I should finally note that I feel deeply responsible for not only my own success and the people in my life who stand to benefit from it (like my loved ones), but also for the success of my team, who are also my friends.
This feeling of duty to my colleagues, juxtaposed with my commitment to healthy living and actually enjoying my life while living it, fuels me to find the most efficient and intelligent ways to approach business.