Web Host Interview: HostPapa CEO, Jamie Opalchuk

Note from Jerry Low – Our web host interview section has gone silent for a long time and I am glad to bring you a new interview post today (finally!). In this post, we have HostPapa CEO, Jamie Opalchuk, in the interviewee seat. I am grateful to have Mr. Jamie to answer my questions and clear some of my doubts about the company Hostpapa, Inc. FYI, Canada based hosting company HostPapa, Inc. has been around for a decade (the site HostPapa.ca, was created in October 2005); the company was named 27th Annual PROFIT 500 Ranking of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies last year. Jamie Opalchuk was one of the speakers at HostingCon 2014; and has been the key person behind Hostpapa since day one.

Without further delay, here goes my Q&A with Jamie Opalchuk .

Introduction: From Lemonade Stand to Canadian Tech Startup

Hello Jamie, thank you very much for being with us today. Can you tell us about yourself?

Thank you, Jerry. I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed on Web Hosting Secrets Revealed.

As a serial entrepreneur I’ve been involved in the Canadian technology industry for over twenty years now, in a range of sectors including software and telecommunications. In 2006, we launched HostPapa in direct response to the growing demand for high-quality web hosting and professional cloud-based services to small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.

What’s the one thing that excites you the most about working at HostPapa?

I still get excited about the fact that HostPapa is helping countless small business owners achieve things that would have been virtually impossible fifteen years ago. The web along with cloud computing has leveled the playing field and now anyone can take advantage of robust, scalable technologies such as hosted applications and infrastructure delivered as a service. It truly is a great feeling to be able to bring powerful web solutions and world-class support to clients all over the globe.

Our customers turn to us for solutions that will help them grow their business and that’s exciting.

HostPapa continues to become not only a trusted adviser to these businesses but also a one-stop-shop. We really do want our customers to succeed by using the productivity tools, applications and computing power that was once only available to the ‘big guys’ through large-scale capital investments.

HostPapa building - taken from a drone that the HostPapa team flew over their building.

HostPapa building – taken from a drone that the HostPapa team flew over their building.

In the theme of “Secret Revealed” (which is our site name), can you tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you?

That’s a challenging question for me because I usually like to work behind-the-scenes as a pretty low-key CEO. Your readers may get a kick out of my first business venture. When I was seven, I opened a lemonade stand on my street. There was a paving crew on my road at the time, so I did quite well. My buddy Darren wanted a piece of the action, but his mom refused to make him any lemonade, so I franchised out by selling Darren lemonade at wholesale prices ;)

HostPapa Operations: 120+ Staff & HQ in Toronto Canada

Please give us an overview of HostPapa business.

As mentioned previously, HostPapa’s been operating for over ten years. Our primary offices are in a beautiful two-story corporate building located in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada, where the diligent, creative team that powers HostPapa on a day-to-day basis works alongside our talented customer care representatives.

All in all, HostPapa employs roughly 120 people. We are arguably the largest independent web hosting company based in Canada and we currently host approximately 500,000 websites on our servers. Our main data centers are located in Toronto, Vancouver and in the United States.

HostPapa workplace reviews at the Glassdoor.ca

One of the HostPapa workplace reviews at the Glassdoor.ca

Great! Thanks for the cool cool picture of the HostPapa building. What about HostPapa hosting services? Who are your target customers?

During our first few years, we focused primarily on delivering high quality web hosting and website building solutions for small businesses, freelancers, and web designers and coders. Since then, we have added other important services including domain name registration (one of our subsidiaries is ICANN certified), reseller and VPS hosting, and hosted email services as well. I believe HostPapa is the only web host to offer our own email products alongside others such as Google Apps for Work and Microsoft Office 365 for small business. In a nutshell, we want to offer our clients the perfect solution for their technological business needs and the quality support to back it up.

Our vision is to continue evolving our product portfolio for small businesses. We will be introducing other services in the future that will be seamlessly integrated into our overall client experience including further hosting options such as Windows Hosting, WordPress Hosting and strategic launches with supporting services such as online marketing solutions, mobile and telephone services, and cloud-based tools like online storage and apps such as customer relation management (CRM).

hostpapa staffs

HostPapa employs roughly 120 people and is hosting approximately 500,000 websites.

Hosting Plans: Starter vs Business vs Business Pro

According to your websites, clients who sign up on HostPapa’s Business Pro Plan will get extra fast server – namely “Rocket Fast Premium Servers”. How are these servers different from the other two (Business and Starter Plan)?

Great question, Jerry.

HostPapa’s Business Pro hosting plan was conceptualized in response to some of our clients who expressed their need for more speed and power without necessarily incurring the additional investment associated with VPS or even dedicated servers.

With Google’s recent emphasis on page load speed, we wanted to be able to give our customers a system and server architecture that would provide them with the competitive advantage they were looking for while still working inside the economics of shared web hosting. Of course, we would usually recommend a Virtual Private Server (VPS) to a client who requires more processing power, increased speed and added control.

We own all of our own equipment in our data centers and our servers are built on high-end SuperMicro machines. Our Business Pro clients are placed on higher performance servers with enhanced processors and more RAM than our standard shared servers.  Furthermore, we also ensure a significantly lower density of users on the server than our standard shared hosting servers.

HostPapa Business Pro Hosting plan offers the highest level of server performance.

HostPapa Business Pro Hosting plan offers the highest level of server performance – with enhanced processors and RAM.

How does HostPapa handle sudden traffic surge in clients’ websites? What happens when a client overuses the allocated server resources in his/her shared hosting account?

We use high-performance shared hosting servers to manage the finite resources within each shared environment.  All of our servers run CloudLinix OS which improves the server’s stability, density and security by allowing our system administrators to isolate each user in the shared environment and provide them not just the standard server resources they’ve purchased but also additional resources that may be required in certain high-demand situations. Sometimes a website can get a serious traffic surge, and that’s a great thing. We want all our customers to experience the online success they set out to achieve. But CloudLinix OS also allows our administrators to isolate and limit the resources of potentially abusive users who not only jeopardize the stability of the shared server but also hinder the overall performance for all clients.

Coming Soon: International Data Centers

I am confused with how HostPapa business works. The name HostPapa appears on so many different TLDs*. Without revealing your business secrets, can you tell us briefly the rationale behind this strategy?

We recognized early on that each international market we’re active in had unique variances and nuances that did not allow for a simple ‘one size fits all’ solution. HostPapa was probably the first in the industry to launch geo-based instances that provided our customers with localized language, currency, ccTLD domain name options and other details that enhanced their overall user experience. This includes the fact that we also provide support in four languages (English, French, Spanish and German). To date, we have launched in eighteen regionally-specific market segments. GoDaddy and others have recently followed a similar strategy with their international expansion plans by launching in various markets such as India and Latin America.

* FYI, HostPapa business is represented by a number of different websites, including hostpapa.co.uk, www.hostpapa.club, and hostpapa.ca.

Are all clients (sign up from different HostPapa sites) hosted on the same infrastructure? 

Yes, all HostPapa clients are hosted on the same robust infrastructure. We wanted our clients to take advantage of our economies of scale so we could offer more affordable solutions than our competitors. And we are very excited about our plans to expand our global footprint even further with the opening of international data centers scheduled for next year.

Looking Forward: Cloud Based Services & Managed WordPress Hosting

What is the #1 focus in HostPapa’s growth plan for the next 12 months? Is there a specific strategy or country or demographic that HostPapa is targeting?

Our primary focus is to continually improve our core service and product offerings including our technological architecture and our award-winning customer support. Our key demographic will continue to be small business owners, online entrepreneurs, freelancers and professionals responsible for their own web design and development.

Without giving up the ‘secret sauce’, we’re planning to expand our product offerings with some exciting new cloud-based services which will be carefully bundled into our core offerings. We have also recently launched our first foray into managed services with a pilot design and marketing service program (DIFM) which we plan to launch worldwide in the near future.  Lastly, you can expect HostPapa to go deeper into some new core hosting offerings including Managed WordPress and cloud hosting—both of which have been in high-demand from our current customer base.

Screenshot of HostPapa Website Builder

Wrapping Up

That’s all for my questions. Do you have anything to add before we end this interview?

The web hosting industry is a highly competitive marketplace dominated by some really great companies. Like them, HostPapa is always trying to strive for improvement. We know we’re not perfect. But the entire HostPapa team here at the head office is dedicated to bettering not just the products and services HostPapa offers, but the web hosting landscape as a whole. If there’s anything we at HostPapa can do better, I urge people to reach out to us on one of our social profiles like Twitter or Facebook and let us know. One thing I learned selling lemonade on my street so many years ago: if you stop evolving as a professional, or as a company, you should probably call it quits.

* Jerry’s note: You can also learn more about HostPapa from this review.