We are happy to announce that we had the opportunity to speak with Ivalio Ivanov, the Technical Support Supervisor of ICDSoft, and find out more about his exciting story.
Take a break by reading this great interview and learn more about the hosting industry.
Before the interview, we did a little research on ICDSoft, and we saw that ICDSoft is on the market for web hosting for 20 years now, which is a lot of experience. Can you tell us a bit more about how you founded the company and the idea behind it?
Ivailo: was initially started as a development company. Back in the early 2000s, when we first started offering hosting services, the hosting industry was very immature and most providers offered hosting as a side service, not as their main offering.
The company our CEO used for hosting his development websites had a reseller package, with a 50% discount for 10 accounts, which was more cost-effective than the single account he was using before. Since our CEO had six websites at that time, he chose the reseller package and resold the extra 4 accounts.
Due to the high level of customer experience, ICDSoft offered for all its services (development and hosting), new hosting customers quickly started growing, and hosting overtook the development side of the business.
We quickly outgrew the reseller hosting business. Our CEO - Dimitar Dimitrov - has very high expectations about the service level, and the dependency on the reseller hosting provider, who had a rather poor support team (something normal for the time) was disconcerting. This made him buy his first hosting server, and he quickly placed it in the nearest data center. In just a few years since the start, we had tens of servers already and over 25,000 customers.
What are the services ICDSoft is offering?
The Economy and Business shared hosting plans are used by most of our customers, because they offer high performance, generous disk space, and very high uptime at low prices.
The SmartVPS service is next in popularity - it is a fully managed VPS service, with a convenient monitoring and management panel, offering generous server resources for a monthly fee of just $19, which is a very competitive price for a fully managed server with included unlimited Control Panel accounts, free SSLs, monitoring and management interfaces.
A lot of people don't know anything about hosting. What is your approach with those people on hosting their websites?
Ivailo: Web hosting can indeed involve a steep learning curve for people just beginning their online ventures. For these customers we have recently introduced a drag-and-drop Website Builder, with professional design templates and video tutorials. Creating a website with this tool can be done by anyone and the results are always good thanks to the huge library of ready-made, professionally designed blocks - from content blocks for paragraphs, headers, images, videos and downloadable files, to application blocks for adding advanced functionality. The website builder uses the modern block editor concept and each element on the website is contained inside a block which can be edited individually. This makes building a website a joy - you can just drag-and-drop the block you need on the page and edit the content inside.
How does ICDSoft differentiate from the competition?
Ivailo: By providing the best customer support experience on the market. It may sound like a cliché, but this is one of the foundations on which our company was built. When our CEO started selling web hosting services, customers' expectations for support were pretty low – they expected that their mails and tickets would be answered in a day or two. This was in stark contrast with the plan of our CEO, who believed that each customer request should be answered immediately. This is the reason why we consider the support team at ICDSoft one of our greatest assets. In most companies, Customer Support is an entry level position, and rarely someone stays on it for more than a couple of years. At ICDSoft, Customer Support members are some of the most respected and experienced professionals working for the company.
We can see that you have a Web Builder Service on your website. Can you tell us a bit more about this service and how it works?
Ivailo: As already mentioned, the Website Builder allows anyone to build a professionally looking website without coding or web design experience. The resulting websites our clients produce with it continue to impress me, as we see more and more customers switch their websites from outdated and more complicated platforms to this tool. The Website Builder provides not only new website owners with tools to build their website presence, but also enables existing webmasters to migrate from other platforms to this fully managed and much simpler tool, which takes away many of the hurdles that come with traditional website maintenance.
Also, you are mentioning eCommerce on your website as well. We can see that more and more online shops are popping up on the market. How this is affecting the hosting industry?
Ivailo: The eCommerce sector is growing, and we see more and more people starting their own online shops. The most popular eCommerce platform on our servers is the free WooCommerce platform. The growth in this area may be troubling for some providers, as eCommerce software often requires more resources than traditional websites. With the rise of eCommerce platforms, we are seeing a rise in the interest in VPS plans. While our shared hosting plans are completely suitable for most online shops, once they start to grow, their owners often prefer a more premium offering that gives them additional peace of mind that their online business is well prepared for traffic surges.
The Covid-19 pandemic hit all industries hard. How ICDSoft is managing the pandemic and has this affected your business?
Ivailo: We were well prepared for this situation. For years, our company has employed a remote-working policy, and the switch once the lockdowns began was made in a day, without any issues. In the past, we have even run emergency simulations where we had teams working from a camp in the mountains.
On the business side, Covid-19 actually gave a push to new sales, as more businesses started working on their online presence. With this increased interest, we lowered the introductory price for all our hosting plans with 75% in order to help more people move their business online.
What are your expectations for this year in the hosting industry?
Ivailo: We expect that the industry will keep its momentum from last year. Many people were unprepared when the pandemic hit, but now that more and more people have found that online businesses can be at least as profitable as their offline ventures, they will bring more sites online.
What do you think is the most important that a hosting company needs to have in order to be successful?
Ivailo: While most people think of hosting companies as racks and racks of servers placed in a dark data center, we think of a hosting company as its people first. The people running the company and always giving it their best are the most important asset.
Finally, some last words for the hosting community?
Ivailo: Our hope is that soon the world will be able to recover from the pandemic. We truly love being close to our customers and would love to be able to resume going to various community meetups, WordCamps, and other technology events.