21 years of doing the right thing
By Simon Blackler, CEO & Founder
We believe business is about solving problems, not making money.
We constantly reinvest profits to build the best company possible.
We believe in being open and trustworthy.
This includes having a clear and fair billing policy with no hidden “extras” or surprise renewal prices!
We believe in being honest.
We look out for our clients and won’t sell a plan that doesn’t meet your needs or budget. If we make a mistake we’ll admit to it and make it right.
We believe that quality support is a right.
Support should be superb, personal and easy to obtain. We will never outsource our support.
We believe the company is the staff.
We always hire “autonomously excellent” individuals who are passionate technologists. Krystal is great people, great technology, in that order.
We believe you get what you pay for.
We spend whatever’s needed for the best reliability and performance. We own our own equipment and never cut corners.
We believe that we all have a responsibility towards protecting our home.
We utilise “Green” technology, 100% renewable energy at all sites and are actively searching for ways to reduce our impact.
We believe consumers are best served by legitimate competition, not monopolies.
So we will not be selling to the businesses we set out to challenge!
Why we’re in business
It was 2002 and I was 17. A friend and I had just spent the summer developing a fansite for an upcoming computer game and in the process learned how to build websites (and that they needed this thing called a “host”). One day while bouncing on a trampoline we got to talking about his father’s newly designed website. It was incredibly basic and had cost £5,000! I was really angry that someone who knew a little HTML had exploited someone else’s lack of knowledge, it didn’t seem fair or right. I remarked, between bounces, that he should have asked us to do it; we’d have only charged £500 and done a better job! Much to my surprise, he agreed, and we had our first client.
We would go on to make a number of websites and the more time we spent in the industry the more we realised that the Internet was the Wild West. Cowboys leapt at the opportunity to make money without having to provide any semblance of service. Hosting companies sprung up overnight, sold sizzle, overloaded servers and would often disappear just as quickly as they’d arrived. Users were left out of pocket and without their data. Even the companies that didn’t disappear weren’t run like traditional businesses; there was never a phone number on the site and support was sub-standard to non-existent. It irked.
The boy scout in me wanted to do something about it. There was a crying need for a REAL provider. Someone honest, technical, decent. It shouldn’t be that hard to buy good value hosting and not run the risk of getting ripped off in the process! Around the same time I was trying to justify my existence. I rationalised that “If I leave the world a better place than I found it, my life will have meant something.” These two ideas fused in my head. With a business I could solve the hosting service deficit AND build a vehicle that could be a force for good, continuing on long after I’d gone.
I thought it was important to figure out upfront who we were so I spent a lot of time thinking about what the company should be and what it should stand for. I felt we needed a distinctive name that would encapsulate our core characteristics of value, quality and transparency. I wanted something iconic and memorable. “Crystal” seemed like an obvious choice. I spelled it with a “K” to differentiate us in the search engines. As with the name I thought we should have a slogan that meant something too. After a few variations we settled on “Honest, Reliable & Personal”. It’s still on the site today and acts as a promise to clients.
We had a purpose and a mission: we would provide the best possible service we could, backed by a personal, honest approach to customer support and we’d use the company as a platform for positive change in the world. I was confident that the market would choose our passionate, high-quality version of hosting, especially given that it cost less, included more and the pricing was fair and transparent. We’d be so good at what we did that those companies who cared only about money would be forced to change their bad business practises or else be hit where they cared - their wallets.
That was the plan, anyway.
What actually happened is that just 2 companies, Newfold Digital and GoDaddy went around and gobbled up most of the competition. Companies are acquired for their future profit (once “optimised”) and the new owners don’t have the same duty of care as the old. Interestingly, the brands are kept separate, so that people often don’t know who the real owners are.
Here’s a sample of some of the 100+ different hosting brands Newfold Digital and GoDaddy control. Do you recognise any?
These monopolies offer consumers very little true choice. Because it’s a hassle to move hosts (unless you’re joining us!) most people won’t move if their company is acquired, even if there’s a drop in service. And that’s if they even find out; it’s normally done silently. Even when consumers do choose to move they’ll often be switching between 2 brands owned by the same company without even realising it. In the unlikely event a new entrant wins market share they’ll just purchase them and hollow out the brand. This behaviour protects/insulates the parent corporations from real loss, providing little incentive for them to “do the right thing”.
There is hope.
Krystal has remained true to its creed. Today we’re the largest independent hosting company in the UK. We’re also rated Excellent by TrustPilot. And we’re not selling.
Being different is in our DNA. We operate in a way that these large investment/pension fund operated corporations cannot hope to match. To do so would cost them profit, something their shareholders would not be happy about! We’re entirely family owned and there’s no shareholder pressures to deliver returns. With no profit motive we’re free to spend money wherever we think it could improve the service, something we do all the time! This translates into a difference you can feel in every facet of Krystal, whether it’s the speed of the platform, the features we include for free or the experience interacting with our team. Our unique approach is the reason why we’re routinely cited as the best in the business.
Krystal is here for the long run. It’s taken us 21 years to get to where we are today but it feels like the real work is just beginning. Since our inception we’ve hosted charities for free and have supported 167 to date. We’ve also held days where we’ve donated all sales to support good causes like Comic Relief. Thanks to the support of our clients we’ll be able to do much more in future and realise my vision for Krystal as a vehicle for positive change. I cannot express my gratitude enough for that opportunity. It is my hope that Krystal acts as a beacon to other entrepreneurs and shows them that running a successful business doesn’t have to be about just making money.
I’m excited about the future and cannot wait to see where we take Krystal together.
Simon Blacker - CEO & Founder Connect with Simon on LinkedIn
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