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Single-minded Featured

9:33am EDT July 22, 2002
Alan Roth and Marvin Shatkoff don't want to solve all your Web services problems. They don't want to offer your business Web development or Web design. All they want to do is host your company's Web site.

"We identified our strengths and decided we didn't want to be sidetracked by other offerings," explains Shatkoff, national sales director for Cleveland-based StoreHOST.net. "We made the decision to be focused on that one segment of the industry rather than try to be all things to all people."

The pair, with partner Harry Adler, opened their business earlier this year and bring a mix of sales, communications and IT backgrounds to the fledgling company. Because of their backgrounds, they could have offered a full-service menu. But they didn't.

Here's why the principals for StoreHOST believe a single-minded focus will pay off in the long run as the Great Net Shakeout continues.

Focus on your sweet spot

There are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 hosting companies nationwide. Most are small one- or two-person businesses with a server or two. When you take those out of the equation, what is left are 3,000 to 5,000 full-scale hosting companies with the capacity to serve a passel of mid- to large-sized businesses.

Roth predicts many of those won't survive -- they'll be bought up, merged into competitors or simply fade away -- over the next two years. The ones that do survive, he says, will do so because they understand the importance of a hosting company's main strength.

"We do more than just rent rack space," he says. "Though that's the core of the business, we also track, monitor and tune the servers and manage the entire infrastructure."

That allows business owners to stay focused on their main goal -- to make their sites profitable.

Partner with experts who do what you don't

While they don't want to lose their focus, Shatkoff and Roth recognize that clients may ask them about other services. That's why they've built strategic alliances with a number of Web design houses, developers and consulting firms after determining each of those company's strengths and weaknesses.

The bulk of StoreHOST's customers come through those firms -- in fact, many companies don't even know their sites are hosted by StoreHOST -- so Shatkoff says it only made sense to see if there was some sort of fit to drive business back to the people who drive business to them.

But getting their message through to those people -- that they don't offer any similar services -- was a tough sell.

"We didn't have that conflict or threat," Shatkoff says. "We spent a lot of time educating those groups that we weren't going to pull away business from them. The truth was, if we understood more about those companies, we would be able to act as a non-biased third party for companies that come to us wanting those services we don't provide.

"We found that after we educated them, there was a healthy modicum of respect for our focus." How to reach: StoreHOST.net, (216) 332-9900

Dustin Klein (dsklein@sbnnet.com) is editor of SBN.