Debbie Gillespie, CEO - FutureQuest.net
Company Web Site: http://www.futurequest.net
What did you do before you ventured into web hosting business direction?
I started out a young mother of three children in an abusive relationship. In an effort to get out of the relationship, with my only means of accessing the 'outside world' being access to an old pc given to me as a gift, I studied web site development and began designing web sites for others while reselling the hosting services of various providers. This later grew into obtaining my degree and going into hosting specifically (as well as getting out of the relationship safely with all three children).
When was the idea of going into web hosting industry born? What were the factors that influenced your decision to go into this industry?
The primary host I had been reselling for deteriorated to a point of being less than acceptable. The demands of myself and my clients were skyrocketing at the same time. My "partner in crime" was extremely knowledgable in the area and noted he could build the servers that we required himself. By bringing everything in house we would avoid the many trials we had been experiencing with the other provider. This quickly bloomed into FutureQuest.net being born in January of 1998.
Briefly introduce your company's history and role in the industry?
FutureQuest is a family oriented business that began with the sole purpose of providing a higher quality of service than what was otherwise available. We were one of the first hosts to open a public community forum and I believe the FutureQuest forums are the oldest hosting support forums that remain open to the public in a positive way. FutureQuest has continued to work toward raising the standards in hosting and prides itself in standing behind an honest offering for its clients with many tools in place to uphold the integrity that is foundational to our services. Judging from the numerous emails I personally receive, from smaller hosts seeking advice, I imagine FutureQuest also serves as a role model for many newer upstarts.
There are thousands of other companies. In your opinion, what makes your company stand out? What would be the business philosophy behind it?
FutureQuest simply does not base its services, nor its pricing structure, by the standards established by this highly competitive industry. Instead, FutureQuest concentrates on the needs of its clients and works toward satisfying those needs in every way possible. We have a full team of competent and educated technicians that are not afraid to modify the core software of a server or to write their own tools to ensure stability, functionality, and that individual client demands are met. Site owners that utilize the FutureQuest Services quickly notice the difference, especially if they have come from competing hosts. The majority of hosts promote many of the same things -- 24 hour support, qualified technicians, powerful tools, honesty, and integrity etc, but few actually provide it. Those of us that do, easily stand out amongst the masses.
Please briefly describe the service(s) that your company offers.
Linux based web hosting provider offering packages that include a number of exclusive tools such as our in house Command'n'Control Panel, Secure_Mode, and full-featured user configurable spam filtering. Site owners on a FutureQuest enjoy a great deal of freedom with all of the services they receive from FutureQuest. By promoting sane package limitations and services we are able to concentrate on catering to our clients while permitting them to use everything advertised without the ludicrous restrictions commonly seen by other hosts. Clients enjoy quality technical support from educated technicians, a friendly community, and powerful services with amazing uptime via a variety of packages from Externally Redirected Domains to Managed Dedicated Services. The primary services offered by FutureQuest however concentrate on personal, SOHO, and small business requirements.
Have you ever taken a bigger risk in terms of presenting innovative solutions or implementing something no else dared even to try?
Life is full or risks. I've attempted a few things however hosting, in the terms you are likely referring to, is the biggest business risk I've ventured into.
How do you help your customers grow their business? Do you offer special tools/assistance that helps them succeed on the web?
FutureQuest provides a number of methods for the Community to work together in helping each other grow. The Community Support Forums being the most popular, however our free banner ad placements, and Net-Sleuth Community Directory also assist Site Owners in locating and utilizing each other's services. FutureQuest also gives each Site Owner the peace of mind to spend less time worrying about their host and more time concentrating on their own clients and web sites. We accomplish this by ensuring superior uptime, full functionality of services, strong redundancy, and enough integrity to not only admit when something has gone wrong but to automatically credit the clients as well. Peace of mind and solid services go a long way in ensuring that clients do not waste time with issues that they pay their web host to take care of.
Do your customers help perfecting and innovating your business? If yes, what is the level of their role in that?
Absolutely! Ideas, suggestions, and requests from clients pave the path that FutureQuest follows. The clients are the "big wigs upstairs" within the FutureQuest corporation. They play the highest role overall.
Your company's short-term goals?
We've just completed the Secure_Mode project and are excited to be deploying it at the time of this writing. FutureQuest's proprietary Secure_Mode subsystem shatters the barriers imposed by PHP safe_mode by providing an unparalleled developer and end user operational environment. Scripts that used to be difficult to operate, due to safe_mode being on, should now operate without a problem because safe_mode is now able to be turned off without compromising any of the security that it had provided. Secure_Mode is something we are quite proud of. The immediate goal is to ensure a smooth deployment of this exciting and exclusive new feature. The majority of short term goals include the completion and deployment of innovative new features such as this. We pride ourselves in having the knowledge and experience that allows us to go above and beyond the standards to release features not available elsewhere.
Your company's long-term goals?
FutureQuest plans to continue solidifying its privately owned data center to enable full collocation and dedicated services. Over the next several years not only should we fill the current data center but begin opening another as well.
The best advice you have for someone who is just starting a hosting company?
Give them more than what you promise them. Do not fall into the trap, that your competition wants you to fall into, by under pricing your services and offering more than what you have to offer. Focus on your own abilities and promote them as such. This will enable you to give your clients everything they expected to receive...and often times far more. By doing this you will grow a strong and loyal client base that will serve as a strong foundation for your company overall.
Is there a fun part in your business? If yes, what would that be?
The FutureQuest Support Forums. Our clients tend to be unpredictable at times, and we've had a great time over the years playing with them on the forums, and even in real life meetings when the opportunities come around. The ability to chat with, and communicate with, the clients, even when it has nothing to do with hosting, is awesome and with our clients... a blast!
The moment in your company's history that you're especially proud of?
The day we announced the grand opening of FutureQuest's very own full-featured Data Center.
How did you come to choose your company name?
We had actually chosen VisionQuest but the domain name was not available. We finally settled on FutureQuest as the alternative. Since that time, we have managed to register VisionQuest.net and use it to show off the FutureQuest Data Center. When FutureQuest opened its virtual doors, we were on a quest right along side our clients for things to come. I doubt any of us realized how fast this ride would be!
When you were a kid, who did you want to become?
Jacques Cousteau was my hero. I had dreamed of becoming an oceanographer as a child.
Other than being in web hosting industry, what is the other profession(s)
that you would want to attend?
Animal Welfare of sorts, though I do my best to rescue and rehab animals even while in hosting. If hosting is ever pulled away from me, I would undoubtedly be found working with the rescue and conservation of variety of species.
Many thanks to Debbie for taking the time to complete this interview.