Memset

Web hosting

Memset

Memset began life in a garage as a conversation between brother and sister Kate and Nick Craig-Wood. It was 2001, their father had just died and they were having “one of those talks”. The result of their conversation was a Guildford-based web-hosting company that over the next seven years would go on to win PC Pro’s Web Host award two years on the trot, and gather an impressive array of clients including the magazine Private Eye.

As with most good business ideas, timing proved to be essential: “At that point in 2001, there was nobody offering virtual machine hosting,” said Nick Craig-Wood, Memset technical director. “The market we saw was split between £5-a-month hosting and the £100-a-month you paid for a full server, but we could see that virtual-machine technology was mature enough that we could offer something in the middle. That’s basically why we started the company, to exploit that.”

But as with any virgin territory, ploughing those first furrows proved painstaking work: “The problem was nobody had any idea our option even existed, and as far as the sales effort, that was a quite a major challenge – explaining to our customers that they weren’t getting a full server but getting something which was as good, and cheaper.”

The key to this early effort, according to Craig-Wood, was Memset’s relationship with its early customers: “We’ve grown up with our customers’ businesses. We got a lot of customers which started off with a tiny little mini server, and then as their business has gotten bigger we’ve upgraded their mini server to a full server, and then several full servers into a cluster. We haven’t had enormous marketing budgets, but more than half of our new customers are referred to us by existing customers, which is how we’ve built the business. We’ve come a long way since the garage.”

Next: 8. Autonomy

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