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BaseKit Brings Former Host Europe CEO Thomas Vollrath on Board to Drive Hosting Partnerships

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BaseKit announced this week that former Host Europe Group CEO Thomas Vollrath has joined as board director to help bring the website builder to more web hosting companies and their small business customers.

The news comes as BaseKit has announced that it has raised around $7.35 million to further develop its website building platform.

Vollrath and BaseKit have a long history together, dating back to before the website builder first decided to pursue the hosting channel.

“Host Europe Group met BaseKit the first time at Seedcamp [in 2008] before the product was developed. We thought that in order to differentiate in the market we wanted to look for a different website creator,” Vollrath says. “That’s when we discovered BaseKit, and also in the beginning we were quite involved in the programming stages to give feedback.”

Since signing its first hosting partnership with Host Europe Group property 123-reg, BaseKit has signed more than 100 hosting partners in Europe, South America and North America. More recently, BaseKit has hired salespeople in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia to focus on developing hosting and teleco partnerships in Asia.

“When we met Thomas and explained where we thought the hosting world was going: less about infrastructure and more about selling services, much more of a customer focus. It seemed that at that meeting we shared a vision about how we saw the industry evolving,” BaseKit CEO Juan Lobato says.

BaseKit sees “the domain name as the first step that anyone in a small business has to take if they want to be online,” and from that, it was clear that partnering with web hosts was the best approach to distribute its platform, Lobato says.

Vollrath says that in North America and in the US, specifically, there are a lot of website builders like Wix and Weebly, but BaseKit is in a unique position to pitch customers because of its go-to-market strategy.

“BaseKit is using the hosting channel as Wix and some of the others go directly to the end customer,” Vollrath says. “They are now looking to get into the hosting channel, but basically that’s owned by BaseKit.”

“We know through speaking with small businesses that the cost of having a web presence is the least of their problems. It’s the first hurdle,” Vollrath says. “Marketing their site and getting traffic to their site is significantly more expensive. We have to educate web hosting companies that if you help the customer develop a successful online presence, then the chance of selling online services is much higher.”

BaseKit board director Thomas Vollrath

Vollrath believes that web builders at the moment “focus too much on price on not enough on quality of web presence.” Another challenge for DIY web builders is the conversion rate.

“The conversion rate on websites is still too low,” Vollrath says. “That’s something we focus with our partners on. If someone signs up for a website it should be an 80-90 percent success rate.”

“Thomas has been quite an important person for us for years,” Lobato says. “He’s been really involved with the business, so we’re really thrilled that he has decided to be our board director, and be the face of BaseKit towards the hosting industry.”

Over the next 6 months to a year, BaseKit will continue to focus on updating its website building product, and signing more hosting partners, while navigating the larger trend in the industry: web hosts moving from infrastructure providers to solution providers.

“It sounds very easy to say, but it’s what the industry will be fighting with for the next 5-10 years,” Lobato says. “I think ten years from now we will not think about hosting companies, we’ll think about companies that will provide a solution for customers.”

About the Author

Nicole Henderson is the Editor in Chief of the WHIR, where she covers daily news and features online. She has a bachelor of journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto. You can find her on Twitter @NicoleHenderson.

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