My name is Bryan Muthig. I grew up in, currently reside, and co-founded A2 Hosting in the eponymous Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Go Blue!) Originally, my background is as a Unix Systems Administrator.
My parents are from Germany and I am a first-generation American. I think growing up speaking a different language at home and having family internationally really helped me understand that there is a large world out there that we don’t always get to see. I love being able to have an international business with team members all across the globe!
The Journey Began
Interestingly enough, WordPress and A2 Hosting both got their start in 2003. A friend of mine and I began A2 Hosting originally as a hobby. We hosted websites for friends and family.
I got introduced to SEO and began writing a copy to see if we could get other people to sign up for our service as well. All of a sudden we got some traction for a number of keywords and we were able to grow the business steadily. After a few years, we had enough customers to allow my partner and myself to quit our regular jobs and begin working on A2 Hosting full-time.
We continued to research and implement various marketing strategies. We also offered a number of solutions that weren’t available with competing services at the time. This helped us to continue to grow the company. Eventually, we realized how big WordPress was getting within our user base and determined we realized we needed to focus heavily on it.
The Need for A2 hosting
A2 Hosting Logo
We’ve been hosting WordPress sites since our launch back in 2003. However, our entire business focus shifted about 7-8 years ago after we sent a survey to our whole customer base.
Not surprisingly, a large base of our customers were using our service to host their WordPress sites. What was surprising though was the number of users who were looking for fast page loads. In the past, customers were most concerned with uptime and support. Our customer needs had shifted, making speed just as important to them as reliability and support.
Our customers’ interest in performance hosting shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The choice of a web host has a huge impact on page load speed. After all, study after study has shown that page load speed has a direct impact on SEO rankings, bounce rates, and conversion rates.
We looked at our customers’ survey answers as an opportunity to “go all-in” on high-performance hosting. Doing a scan of the industry, there weren’t really any competitors who were focusing on speed.
The main selling point of the competition was generally price, and that just wasn’t a fight or market we were interested in getting involved in. We saw the perfect opportunity to meet the needs of a large segment of the hosting industry.
We jumped on new technology at the time; solid-state drives (SSD). We did a lot of testing on those drives and found that sites hosted on SSDs loaded about 300% faster compared to traditional HDDs without much other site optimizations. With these performance stats in hand, we made the decision to become one of, if not the very first, SSD host.
From that survey, we also determined that our customers were looking for easy-to-use WordPress solutions. WordPress Hosting support is generally completely hands-off or fully managed. While the fully managed solutions looked attractive to users needing WordPress assistance, those types of solutions didn’t offer much flexibility in terms of the plugins that could be used.
We wanted to offer a solution that was more of a middle ground; giving users an easy button to optimize their own WordPress sites, but giving them the flexibility to use the plugins they wanted to use. This is how our A2 Optimized setup was born.
WordPress sites loaded down with speed and security plugins tend to be less secure and slower. A2 Optimized resolved that by pre-configuring WordPress sites with the best speed and security settings. Our A2 Optimized WordPress plugin performs actions like setting up caching for improved performance, moving the login page (to avoid brute force attacks), and adding captcha to comment and login pages.
My Brilliant Team
We are a fully remote office, so we don’t have many pictures to share. However, here are a few pictures of our team members at various WordCamps around the globe.
A2 Hosting Team
Advice for Business Owners
If you’re looking to start your own business, you’ll definitely want to learn everything about your industry, the market, and your competitors. Make sure to network whenever and wherever possible!
I didn’t spend enough time doing this in the beginning, to fully understand my industry and business model and it slowed us down initially. Read everything you can get your hands on about running your own business.
Also, coming from a technical background, it’s really easy to get stuck in the “if you build it, they will come” mindset. I had to learn that marketing is your friend and that’s how people will get to know about the great things you are building for them. They can’t purchase your services if they don’t know about them.
WordPress & Beyond
We actually planned this interview at a perfect time. Not to get too promotional, but we just launched our brand new Shared Hosting platform. The reason I mention this is because our new Shared Hosting update has taken the next step in offering high-performance hosting, which is our brand promise. This update will help power our growth over the next few years.
As a quick background, we launched our Turbo Server a few years back. At the time, we performed a number of speed tests and found that WordPress sites hosted on our Turbo Servers loaded up to 20X faster than our competitors.
Our newest Turbo Server update is even faster. Featuring AMD EPYC hardware with NVMe storage, our Turbo Servers offer 40% faster CPU performance, can handle 9X the number of concurrent users over normal load and are 2X faster to the first byte compared to our previous platform.
WordPress users looking to get the best performance for their sites are going to be blown away with these new servers.
WordPress has become so big that it’s going to be here for a long time. It would be very difficult to recreate the ecosystem and community that has been formed so I don’t think there is going to be a significant new player soon. It will continue to evolve as a platform that can satisfy many different needs for web professionals and SMBs around the world.
My Love for the WordPress Community
A2 Hosting is very involved in the WordPress community. We sponsor and attend numerous WordPress meetups and WordCamps. We are currently sponsoring over 30 WordPress meetups and we attended/sponsored about 20 individual WordCamps in 2019.
How I Keep Myself Updated
As I mentioned earlier, I did a lot of research early on regarding how to grow and run a business. The Entrepreneurs Organization has been priceless in helping me learn best practices for running a business. It’s also not a bad idea to learn how to maximize free organic traffic from search engines. Websites like Google’s Webmaster Blog and SearchEngineLand are invaluable.
As far as WordPress, I try to stay subscribed to as many updates and newsletters as possible.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife and I have a young daughter and another one on the way! I also enjoy traveling, skiing, playing tennis, and hockey, though the current Covid-19 situation is making that a bit tricky. I know it’s the middle of summer over here but I’m really looking forward to skiing in Europe again once we can safely travel! Those mountains are incredible.
I Reward Myself by
As a fully remote company, with employees distributed all over the globe, we do enjoy getting as many folks as we can together a few times a year for a summer picnic and for holiday parties. We also like to bring our leadership team into town each quarter for business planning purposes.
As far as community involvement is concerned, we have been partnered with Corbonfund.org for over 10-years. They are a leading organization in providing carbon offsetting and greenhouse gas reduction. Working with them has allowed us to offset the emissions for our servers.
We donate quite a bit via WordCamp sponsorships and it feels good to give back to an open-source project that has helped our business so much.
Connect With Me
We just launched our new Shared Hosting platform and plans. We are currently offering up to 66% off on our Shared WordPress Hosting. Each includes our Money Back Guarantee so your readers can try us completely risk-free.