Nov 14, 2018

12 min read

8 Lessons From Bootstrapping A Hosting Company

Written by

Matt Connor

SSD Nodes is different, in many ways, from the other VPS providers you might have heard about or used in the past. I've built the entire business without funding from investors, which means we've been entirely bootstrapped since 2011. Instead of using our profit to satiate investors, we can funnel that cash directly back into the business to fuel the next iteration of our underlying technology, features, and staff necessary to run the operation and find new customers.

Bootstrapping isn’t always the easiest way to build a business, much less a successful VPS hosting company, but it allows us to stay fully committed to your needs and our passions, rather than those of a board of directors. And, over the last seven years, I’ve learned lessons the hard way—by executing, measuring results, recovering from failure, and trying again.

Maybe I can help other bootstrappers or “indie hackers” escape the same hiccups. Or, just maybe, you’re curious to take a small look inside how your hosting provider runs itself.

1. Start small and iterate

Bootstrapped companies are often on the small side, which means that taking risk can have an enormous impact on the bottom line, or even send the company spiraling toward shutdown. Starting small means making the right decisions to lower your risk now and extend that runway.

Instead of launching with 50 mediocre products, is your business capable of doing one or two products really well?

For the longest time, SSD Nodes sold a few variations on a single product: virtual private servers based on OpenVZ. That’s changed, of course (we now sell servers based on KVM!), and there were a few hiccups along the way, but we’ve always been most successful when we’ve streamlined our product offerings and focused on creating the best possible experience and delivering the most value.

Don’t shy away from having a minimal set of features, too—the MVP is still going strong. It’s more than OK to launch with a small set of features, get customers, get feedback from them, and then iterate to build more features that your customers will want to use.

One of the reasons we’re still relatively light on features is that we are constantly examining what SSD Nodes customers actually want in an ever-shifting VPS hosting climate. Bootstrapped businesses should always invest heavily in acquiring customer feedback to guide this decision-making process and only move forward when they’re confident in a particular feature’s short- and long-term value—both to the business and to the customers.

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