On March 11th 2012, a Sunday, it was just past midnight and I was closing up tabs and getting ready to go to sleep. I had school the next day and I had already set myself up for less than 6 hours of sleep. My phone beeped to let me know that I had received an email. Usually it’s just a matter of taking a peek and archiving it. This one was a little different.
It was a monitoring alert. Panopta told me a server was down. Of course, I’m used to false-alarms. I get far too many of them. I figured I would run a quick check and call it a night – nothing out of the ordinary.
I seemed to be able to connect to the server fine. I thought, why did Panopta alert me then? A few seconds later, my terminal froze. I tried to connect to the server from an adjacent server — no dice. Uh oh. Then I got another email about another server going offline. Then another. And another. Uh oh.
Web hosting is all about uptime. Clients want their websites and servers running 100% of the time. Every day, hour, minute, and second of uptime is important. At the time, everything was down. It had to come back up. Nothing else mattered. Stuff had to get back online.
I went to the Latisys data center at around 1 AM. After hours of frustration, confusion, adrenaline, and (most importantly) keeping it together, I had a temporary solution in place. I think I got back home at around 4 AM. My alarm went off at 5:30 AM. I’m not sure if I slept at all.
I remember this day. I think you were dead in AMT (advanced math techniques)…
This blog post isn’t about that. This is about much more. This is to share my thoughts about what I started three years ago. Three years ago, I went to Suggest.Name to find a good domain name that I could use for a web hosting company. At first, it was just a “tech” prefix attached to a “hardware” suffix. Today, it’s much more than that.
I was 16 years old, highly ambitious, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Most of my decisions were based on intuition. I told myself early on that this wasn’t going to be about making profits. It’s still not about that.
I used to read Web Hosting Talk a lot. I used to read threads from people with complaints about their web hosts. I still see complaints. I used to go, “what is wrong with these companies?!” I saw people telling teenagers “you can’t run a web hosting company.” I wanted to prove them wrong. I wanted to show people brilliance.
In three years, I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad review. I’ve never seen anyone complain about Bitcable. Well, people complain about the lack of discounts :). Simply put, the company has never done anything terribly bad.
I don’t want to sound pretentious. It didn’t take much. Of course I’ve made mistakes, but I think all it takes is doing the right thing, being honest, being fair, and using common sense. I wanted to build a company people could trust. That’s all this is about. Do you trust me?
I put a lot into this. I made all the web designs from scratch. I wrote all the text. I answer all the support tickets. I manage all the servers. I pay all the bills. I decide the promotions and figure out the plans. I make sure things are running all the time.
Do you trust me? Do you trust a 19 year old? Heck, I started this when I was 16. Would you trust a high schooler to manage your websites? Guess what? People did. They took a chance on me. I did my best, and I strive to keep doing my best.
I do sleep :). I just like to keep my clients happy. It doesn’t matter if they’re paying $2 a month or even $100 a month. I will reply as soon as I can. I don’t care if it’s 2 AM or 2 PM. I reply. I’m not about boilerplate responses either — if there’s an issue, I resolve it, even if it means I have to get out of bed and spend hours to do so.
I’ve dealt with bad web hosts. People never respond to my emails. They send me boilerplate responses. My websites go down and I never know why. I know what it’s like to wait for a response. I never want my clients to feel the same way.
In the end, I don’t think this is, was, or will ever be about making money. It’s about something much more important for me: raising the bar.
By the way, Bitcable hosts one of the Washington, DC Panopta monitoring nodes. I guess our uptime is good enough to monitor your uptime! :)