The WP Minute+

In this episode of the WP Minute+, Matt Medeiros interviews Scott Stapley, CEO and co-founder of BigScoots, a managed WordPress hosting company. Stapley shares the story of how he and his business partner started BigScoots in 2010 while still in college, focusing on providing exceptional service in the hosting industry.

Stapley discusses the challenges of scaling a hosting business, especially as an infrastructure provider. He explains how BigScoots differentiates itself by owning and operating its own infrastructure, allowing them to offer more resource-abundant solutions at competitive prices while still delivering top-notch service.

The conversation also touches on the importance of customer service in the hosting industry. Stapley emphasizes that BigScoots has built its reputation on providing unparalleled support, which has led to a loyal customer base and minimal churn. He believes that the service gap in the industry is growing, and hosting companies must focus on delivering value through exceptional service to succeed.

Stapley also shares his thoughts on the potential role of AI in customer support, stating that while AI can be a valuable internal tool, BigScoots will never replace human interaction in their customer communication.

Key Takeaways:
  • BigScoots was founded in 2010 with a focus on providing exceptional service in the hosting industry.
  • Owning and operating their own infrastructure allows BigScoots to offer resource-abundant solutions at competitive prices.
  • BigScoots has built a loyal customer base through unparalleled support, resulting in minimal churn.
  • The service gap in the hosting industry is growing, and companies must focus on delivering value through exceptional service.
  • AI can be a valuable internal tool, but BigScoots believes in maintaining human interaction in customer communication.
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What is The WP Minute+?

For long-form interviews, news, and commentary about the WordPress ecosystem. This is the companion show to The WP Minute, your favorite 5-minutes of WordPress news every week.

matt: Hey, Scott, welcome to the program.

scott: Pleasure to be here.

Thanks so much.

matt: Big Scoots, proud foundation.

Well, I'm saying you're proud.

I'm putting words in your mouth.

You're proud foundation plus
sponsor, of the WP minute.

We can't thank you enough for helping,
support independent WordPress news and

journalism, in our WordPress space.

we're happy to have your logo
across all the work that we do.

So again, big thanks.

Two big scoots for supporting, supporting
us here at the WP minute today.

scott: rolls right off the tongue.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, no way.

I mean, thanks.

Thanks for allowing us to be part of it.

It's a pleasure.

matt: Scott, we, we just met minutes ago,
Tim introduced us and dipped off the call.

So we wouldn't have a third
channel in the podcast at it.

obviously I've had heard of big scoots
from people on, on Twitter before,

maybe I've even seen it, on LinkedIn
didn't really know about big scoots

in the WordPress world, but my God,
you guys are really making a mark.

in that WordPress managed hosting
space, a very competitive space.

I was looking at your LinkedIn profile.

And big scoots, big scoots
started 14 years ago.

You went from researcher to CEO.

I didn't see any other like tech
startup space in the middle there.

How did you make the leap from researcher?

And what, what was that role?

And how did, how did you get into hosting?

scott: Yeah, well, it was more
of a CEO to researcher continued

forward with the CEO, bit.

lots of in betweens there, but
that's the, that's the timeline.

yeah, I was, so we found a big
scoots in college, in 2010.

It feels like many moons ago.

my business partner and I
were eager to work together.

sort of leverage what we knew and knew.

Well, he was an infrastructure,
and system admin guru.

So he had his hands on the actual
physical infrastructure that we

still to we still do to this day.

That's kind of one of the interesting
bits about how we differentiate

from others in the market.

Being that we own and operate everything.

but sort of just started from a point
of, okay, you know, what can we do?

That's interesting in a interesting space
that we really enjoy, you know, WordPress.

It's kind of funny at the time
it wasn't really established

as we, so I mean, certainly not
established as we know it today.

but hosting, hosting was, was sort of
that, interesting pie in the sky where

we thought to ourselves, look, A lot
of people don't do this very well.

How can we do this better?

We're going to build something
predicated entirely on service.

you know, I've always been in tech
generally, you know, just enjoyed it.

Sort of just tech aficionado,
I guess you could say.

so the idea of bridge, you know, moving
into tech, leveraging Justin's skill set.

we really kind of came together, you
know, with me sort of on the sales and,

and business side of things, wearing a
lot of hats at the time, you know, taxes,

accountants, you know, the rest of it
that you have to do as an entrepreneur.

but he laser focused, you know, in his
basement with the, you know, you know,

the, the drapes drawn and, and what have
you just kind of focused on what he did.

And, we've just, we've just iterated
on service a hundred times over.

you know, you know, a hundred times
a week, I guess you could say up

until today, you know, 14 and a bit
years later, you know, we have a,

an industry leading industry service
leading platform, for managed WordPress.

so, you know, we came from a place,
of just being, Interested and

excited about offering good service.

And, and we sort of pivoted all our
ways through up, up, up until WordPress.

And I mean, we love where we are.

the researcher bit, that was kind of
an interesting personal, situation.

I was in college for, it was pre med
at the time, but biomedical engineering

was the, degree path that I was on.

I did finish it, perhaps pretty unrelated
to what I do on a day to day basis today.

but it was exciting.

So med school was my original,
inspiration, for sort of,

digging in and, and going hard.

But, you know, WordPress has been,
has been exciting really ever since.


matt: Was it, was it Justin who liked
the internet and hosting bit of it?

Like, was it, was he building, or were
you both building websites on the side?

Like, what was it about hosting
that was like, Oh, this is

a market I want to go into?

scott: Yeah, so I mean, hosting is just
foundational to every online business

in every facet, you know, even with
like site building esque type solutions

and other types of SaaS platforms
that you might be able to like build a

business around, you still need hosting
at the bottom rung of everything.

And that was very interesting to me,
you know, how do we, how do we create

this foundational level of service
that is just better than what else

is, you know, from our viewpoint, it
started with infrastructure, right?

If you own the whole stack, you can
really affect change on the whole stack.

So, you know, that started with, you
know, ultimately it started with a

single server and that, you know,
obviously ballooned into racks and

top of rack switches and core routing
and edge routing and everything else,

eventually, you know, building out our
own network and incorporating all those

elements of it, you know, our own portal,
you know, team, obviously, you know,

big piece of, of, of growth as well.

but it really just, came from a point
of, you know, Justin was certainly,

he, he worked in the same data center
that we co load our first, server.

And so naturally he kind of had
an inkling in a, in an in for us,

made sense at the time, but no, I
mean, I was building websites, so

that was kind of my, my take on it.

I, you know, from a, from a, you know,
I w I had a small design agency and I

would, I would build develop the websites.

I had a small team with me, at the time.

And, Yeah, the writing was on the wall.

I mean, service was lacking then,
in the hosting industry, it's

lacking perhaps even more now.

So, you know, we just stayed true to
our guns and, you know, service was

what we wanted to dig our heels into.

And that's what we, that's what we did.

But, always online, you
know, ever, ever since.

You know, you could be really, at, you
know, as, as young as I can remember,

I was, I was, I was on the computer,
figuring out ways to, you know, build this

and, and, and make something interesting
and, and Justin, you know, being more

of a system admin infrastructure,
role, it, it really just, it just

really blended itself quite well, you
know, 14 years later, here we are.

matt: For you young kids
out there, co load server.

So what that is is people used to, I
used to, because way back in the day

I worked for an ISP internet service
provider before my, my job at Pagely,

well before my job at Pagely, I used to,
I used to be the system admin for this web

hosting company where I would throw Dell
servers in the back of my Nissan Maxima.

Drive it to the co location, install
it, plug it in, put in the hard

drives, format, put everything in.

And now you couldn't just go
to a website and just spin up

a cluster of servers back then.

but even today it sounds like you're
building out that same infrastructure.

Like you're buying the steel and Selling
that off with your layer of probably

software and service on top of it.

Do you, do you now own the co loc,
the co location or the data center?

Do you rent what, you know, what can
you tell us about what you own at big

scoots to give people the picture?

scott: Yeah.

So the, you know, the,
the, the metal, right.

The, the bare metal, I guess, as, as
they say, yeah, all owned and operated

completely out of iOS, we have an on prem
office, adjacent to our suite in, the

care, the most connected carrier neutral
facility in North America, 350 Cermak.

So it's given us an opportunity.

Ultimately we're just down the
street from where we started, but

it's given us the opportunity.

a very interesting opportunity to
ultimately engulf ourself in the most

connected location, effectively in North
America, just, just by its positioning

and its age and, and sort of its, its,
its prowess in, in, in the telecom area.

you know, there's actually a, but
I think, I think it's like a better

part of a five year wait list now
to get into the data center, but we

were just kind of, kind of young and
silly and we're like, Oh, that's cool.

You know, you know, we didn't at the
time we were just kind of working,

working the, you know, working the
path, trying to figure out, you know,

the best deal and whatnot, but it
really, it really turned itself into a

really, really, really good decision.

from a, from DC ops and sort of logistical
perspective, you know, Chicago is

really well positioned for a lot of,
infrastructure providers in the area,

like, like CDW, you know, super micro
just to hop, skip and a jump away.

you know, Dell has a, has
a, has a warehouse there.

it's very easy relative to
the rest of the country to get

our hands on infrastructure.

And, as of late, that's been more
important than quite some time ago.

I mean, COVID really kind of messed
up a lot of the supply chains, but,

having your own bare metal really
allows you to create really, really

interesting, dynamics around the
amount of resources you can provide.


for the, for ultimately the amount of
dollars that the end user or WordPress

site owner might spend, for example,
in cloud computing, you typically get

priced out of higher, clock speed CPU
cores, which can very oftentimes be a

major contributing factor to performance.

If you're a dynamic site like e
commerce or membership or something

like that, you're going to find
that CPU becomes your bottleneck.

You know, all those dynamic queries
need to get funneled on through CPU.

The faster it is, the better chance
you have of those completing in a

good amount of time for your visitors,
find their way off, off your page.

if you can build yourself a piece of
infrastructure ultimately, and, and

provide that piece of infrastructure for
what could be, maybe a 20 or 30 percent

cost savings for somewhere on the order of
about four or five times the amount of CPU

and memory, that's an interesting dynamic.

That's an interesting dynamic to a, a
site owner who can, who can, who can

manage their scaling costs and not have to
worry about performance at the same time.

if you look to scale horizontally, in the.

Or rather vertically, you know, if you
look to scale up your CPU, in a lot

of cases, you just run out of choices,
you know, if you're with some of the

larger providers, you're given X amount
of PHP processes and the CPU is just

given to you regardless of, what you
would prefer or not, we can custom build

that solution and ultimately we custom
build those solutions with really cost

effective, Or sort of a profile in mind.

So we're going to use our knowledge,
select the right CPUs for the right

workload, and ultimately be packaged
those in plans that are easy to sign up

with on our website, but signing up for
a similarly priced plan between us and

our competitors, by the fact that we own
our own infrastructure, we're able to

be, Considerably more resource abundant.

we layer on top of that, a lot of managed
services, a lot of human hours, time and

attention being spent on all these sites.

So naturally our price points still
need to kind of be where they are to

deliver the level of service that we,
we do deliver, but it creates this

really, really interesting dynamic where
you can ultimately save money in most

cases and, and hit those, those targets.

Really, really top levels of service
and performance at the same time.

So really, really interesting dynamic.

And it's a lot of that's predicated
on the fact that we own and operate

our infrastructure, you know, a burden
to bear most hosts wouldn't want, but

being that we've done it for so long,
we've become very good at it and,

naturally it's, it's, it's exciting.

It's really exciting.

matt: Did you start the company, well
let's say 14 years ago, were you, did

you start with WordPress hosting in
mind or was it just traditional hosting?

Hey, bring over your HTML and static
sites or whatever and then you

moved into WordPress eventually.

How did that transition happen?

Or did you start with WordPress sort
of as a leading, as a leading service?

scott: Yeah.

So, you know, I mean, WordPress
certainly existed at the time.

That's for sure.

but it didn't exist as we know it today.

It was more of like a
blogging type platform.

wasn't a lot of business or commerce
that existed in the same way that

it, that it does on it now today.

we existed in Chicago with sort of a
focus on the Chicago land businesses.

So some fortune 500s, you know, some
folks who wanted to leave the on prem

Sort of, infrastructure management,
to a professional organization such

as ourselves, you know, whether it be
hospitals or businesses or what have you

folks who needed their infrastructure
managed, at the time we're doing like

private clouds and stuff like that too.

This predates, you know, obviously AWS
and whatnot, you know, but, even at that

time we, we were managing WordPress.

we just didn't really.

Call it managed WordPress.

We were just a managed hosting provider.

these days we've sort of coined the
phrase site specific management, and

that goes much more in line with the
level of service we aim to deliver.

And also cause kind of a unique
nature in which we provide

managed WordPress services.

So site specific to us, what that
means is like we're logging into

your actual website, we're, we're
adjusting plugin configurations.

We're watching for.

You know, stuck PHP processes
and plugin conflicts and database

inefficiencies and all these other
sorts of things that will plague

every single WordPress site out there.

and we're sort of the partner to a
WordPress site owner to alleviate

those technical challenges and, and
do so in a lot of cases proactively.

so the sort of bridge between, you know,
where we started as sort of a managed

services provider and where we became, you
know, sort of this managed site specific.

WordPress provider is really
just more defining what it was

that we set out to originally do.

We were always going to do that.

We were always going to be very hands
on and part of the, the, the customers,

the WordPress, the site owners or the
application owners, team ultimately.

but we became, much more sort
of entrenched with the WordPress

community just because it was a
much more exciting place to be.

I mean, there's so much going on.

All of the time.

it's incredible to see some of
these businesses, that exist, in

and around the WordPress space.

And it's, it's amazing being part of it,
but, you know, just the site specific

sort of nature of our, our service
lends itself very well to WordPress.

Cause as a WordPress site owner,
you're going to want to focus

on building your business.

You're not going to necessarily want
to focus on building a technical team.

So it was just, it was just
such a, such an easy fit.

matt: I, this might be, maybe Justin
remembers the pain of this, but I remember

back in the day when I was the, the
sysadmin, so the question is, do you, do

you have a thing that like kept you up at
night when you first started the business?

Was there like an application that
kept crashing that you're like, Oh

my God, there's this thing I have to
do at like two in the morning every

Saturday that I don't want to do for me.

I remember, no.

When I was at this ISP, we were like one
of the very first customers when cPanel

came out and there was, I think Ion Cube
was the name of it, like an email client.

Maybe it still exists today.

I remember that's that that server
would die all the time on me.

And we also had a Windows IIS
server that we constantly had to,

VPN and reboot like always on a
Saturday afternoon in the summertime.

We had to do that do you
have any of those those fun?

Hopefully fun, moments when you were first
growing the business That was particularly

challenging that you can kind of look
back on now and say well that was tough

then But I can kind of laugh at it now

scott: I mean, you definitely called out
like the two, you know, number one and

number two, maybe they're both tied at
number one in terms of, you know, kind

of problem children over the years for
any and all system admins, you know, you

described a mail server, which is just,
you know, incredibly taxing to manage.

and then you also, you know, and
then windows just in a nutshell is

always kind of a beast of its own,
but, certainly those two are good.

Good front runners, network operations
and just dealing with scale, I would say

is, is absolutely, you know, number one
on the list, though, you know, network

effects, everything it's, it, you know,
delivers entire production traffic to

everything underneath it and figuring
out, you know, sort of creative solutions

to otherwise very complicated problems.

certainly, certainly kept me up at night.

but, you know, higher, higher, good team
and, and those problems tend to go away.

So that's, that's been sort of a, the,
probably the most traumatic thing over

the years, I would say trying to figure
out how to manage and effectively run, you

know, enterprise class network and, And,
you know, we, we did, it was exciting.

I, I think, you know, I, I might even
throw like WordPress into the ring there,

you know, in the early days, like it
didn't have, a lot of the same support for

various services that has today, right.

Even, even then a lot of people wanted
to push the envelope on performance,

but things like, you know, NGINX and,
and Lightspeed and PHP, FPM, and like

some of those other sorts of things that
are just like commonplace every day.

I mean, certainly.

Like CloudFlare above all else.

you know, it just, it just didn't exist.

So you would have, you know, services
constantly failing, you know, when you

were trying to push the envelope for
WordPress performance, and, it was,

it was incredibly complicated and,
and very difficult to manage at scale.

back then before, you know, systems
were in place and, and, and, you

know, processes are as they are today.

matt: I want to talk
about growing big scoots.

Do you have any outside investment?

It's not hosting is not an
easy game without probably some

capital for certainly marketing
promotion and stuff like that.

We'll talk about that maybe in a moment.

But how are those early days of
scaling and growing the business?

More hosting customers, more
support staff, more engineers,

et cetera, et cetera.

How was that growth
curve in the early days?

scott: Yeah, the, a lot, a lot of pains,
you know, a lot, a lot of pain and

suffering, you know, blood, sweat and
tears, as they say, there was, several

years, I wanna, I wanna say the better
part of, four or five years, you know, we

didn't take a dime out of the business,
everything was reinvested back into it,

we were very lucky, very fortunate that
we were both at times in our lives, You

know, I mean, I used my student loans
to fund my, my living, for example, you

know, and, fortunately it worked out and
could have been a bad, certainly a bad

bet, but, you, you know, a lot of growing
pains, especially as an infrastructure

provider, I mean, on, you know, kind of
unmatched really, because you, you think

about scale and you think about this
sort of like linear, ahead of you and you

think to yourself, okay, you know, we're
going to fill up this one server and then

we're going to buy another one and we're
going to, you know, use the exact same

amount of clients that we're going to do
it again and we're going to do it again.

But we don't realize is
that, you know, drives fail.

You don't, you know, clients use
different amounts of resources.

You know, you eventually need to get.

Switches, you know, you, you realize
that there's a cost associated with that

and managing those and they need to be
redundant and then they need uplinks.

And how do you get a riser from one
part of the building to the other one?

Now you need multiple uplinks.

Now you need DDoS protection that it just
kind of goes on and on and on and on.

And you really, you know, we
were a bootstrap business.

matt: And then rinse and repeat that like
five years later when the technology,

you know, the new Intel chips come out a
new AMD to now you're like, okay, now the

faster hard drives are out and then you
find yourself reinvesting in that capital.


scott: It really just never stopped.

I mean, originally, you know,
everybody were on spindles and

then those spindles were okay.

We're doing a 15k.

I still remember them.

Everybody was

matt: Yeah, I remember those

scott: 7200 to 15k.

Yeah, the cheetahs, right?

Very good cheetah drives, I think.

And then, you know, they did
almost nothing, but, you know,

it was exciting at the time.

Super expensive for almost nothing.

And then, you know, eventually
it transversed into, you

know, caching layer, right?

SSEs are very expensive, but you
could incorporate them, like, Within

the caching layer on a server.

So you have SSD caching with spindle
drive supporting the majority of it.

at some point in time, you know, central
storage was, was part of our, part of our

platform where we would, we actually had,
you know, sans and we would deploy, you

know, enterprise SSDs in there and it's
just, you know, network, right, like fiber

optics, you know, how, how, how do you,
how do you scale from a, you know, single

siloed, you know, virtual machine up into.

You know, a real solid like internal
network fabric where you know you do have

load balancing and all this other sort of
stuff and it just there's so many points.

You know, literally hundreds, you know,
you asked a somewhat simple question,

but there's probably hundreds of like
lived examples of how it was sort of

like a serious pain point and sort of
overcoming it, was, was just, you know,

frankly, a lot of trial and error.

you know, we're fortunate.

Today to have a really, really, really
amazing team where we can actually think

through problems and like, you know, make,
make good decisions right out of the gate.

But, yeah, in those early days,
you know, it was just, just Justin

and I just, just figuring it out.

And it was, it was, it was, It was
a lot of work, a lot of stress.

you know, a lot of examples.

I have this one, one, one
very vivid example of, I was

doing a, biomedical, yeah.

what was it?

Bioengineering, final exam.

And, I skipped the last question so
I could head out into the hall to,

to answer a client call and, teacher
was super frustrated, super mad,

told her what I was doing and she
gave me the extra time later in the

day to finish up that last question.

But, you know, just, just a lot of
that kind of like back and forth,

trying to, trying to kind of make
life work at the same time you're,

you're trying to run a business.

But, certainly that was.

That was many years ago.

but frankly, similar problems today,
you know, it's a lot of, a lot of, you

know, how do you overcome, you know,
the next step and, you know, you, you

think back on the experience that you've
had, hopefully you lean into the better

decisions than the, than the worst ones.

And, if you're lucky, you have a good
team to help support you as well.

matt: It's a double edged
sword hosting and maybe even

specifically manage hosting.

You do have looking on the website, you
do have sort of standard shared hosting.

I think I saw it starts for 7 a month.

Maybe that was with the annual
pricing, but even WordPress

hosting starts at 35 a month.

Again, that might be annual
pricing, but still what we have

is this conundrum where folks.

See wordpress.

It's free, right?

There's so many web hosts available.

There's always this sort of race
to the bottom with customers.

And if we're just looking at
wordpress managed hosting, a lot

of people might look at that and
go, Oh my God, 35 40 bucks a month.

I don't want to pay that.


So on one hand, you have this challenge
where that sort of sets the, Sets the tone

for the customer customer who comes to you
who's willing to spend 40 50 bucks a month

Might be a better customer than the person
who only wants to spend five bucks a month

The challenge is 30 40 bucks a month.

You still need a lot of them.

All right to really push this thing
forward I remember at my old gig our

entry level price And so then there's
the flip side which was the one of

the problems that that I had as a
account executive is You Our hosting

started at 500 a month minimum.

So now, now we go to the other
end of the spectrum where people

are like, Oh my God, 500 a month.

Like, what are you going to do for me?

And it's like, no, no, like really to
support WordPress, it takes a lot, right?

Like it takes a lot.

And that's where your service kicks in.

How do you balance how much
service you're giving folks, at

still such Low affordable prices.

Tim was mentioning before customers
rave about you all and customers

are super happy, you know, and
they're super happy running into

Tim at the upcoming word camps and
previous word camps he's been to.

So how do you balance that?

How much service and support you provide
for an ecosystem that just requires

so much of it, especially WordPress.

scott: Yeah.

Well, I mean, to be clear, I mean,
You know, we built a business

on, on 5 a month customers.

So we're, you know, we, we love
every, every shape and size

of, of, of a customer profile.

and, I, I like to think that we
deliver at every level as well.

naturally shared hosting is meant to be.

More of a lower cost, you
know, shared solution.

And the expectation is that there's
more of a do it yourself element to it.

manage WordPress, I think would be
impossible to deliver at the level

that we do it at, if we didn't have
certain margins baked into our business,

being that we own and operate our
own infrastructure, our own network,

our own data center space and what
have you, you know, the Google.

Cuts as it were, you know, the
margins that they take away

from business are significant.

we're also a business that's
laser focused on service.

So we're known for service.

We're not known for that race
to the bottom pricing and, you

know, black Friday promotions.

So if you sign up with
us, it's very likely that.

You're never going to leave.

you know, we have a churn,
rate of, you know, less than

I want to say it was like 0.

4%, last time I looked and, you
know, and, and you don't see that,

you don't see that in hosting people
just chase the solution, right?

Like people have problems, they have
issues that they can't necessarily get

solved and they keep looking for a new
place to get those solutions solved.

ultimately we, we solve those solutions.

So although our price points might be.

Really value centric.

The reality is, is that we make
up costs on the infrastructure

and network side of things.

We also make up a lot of costs
on customer acquisition because

we really don't have much.

The CAC, it's really flatlined around
just people knowing the level of service

that we deliver on and expecting it,
certainly keeping us honest about it.

but we have a solution and a system and
a platform that delivers and does so.

every time.

I would add to that, that folks on
the bottom end of the market, you

know, who are just getting started
for the first time, all the way up,

Through effectively billion dollar
companies and in certain elements.

they all lack the same thing in
and around hosting in, in that

they don't have good service.

folks on the upper end in the
agency realm, they don't have

clients, execs, managers.

They don't have system admins senior
enough to be able to identify.

Complex issues, improve core vitals
and performance on like a site specific

level and do so repetitively across like
their entire portfolio And on the on the

on the other end of the spectrum folks
getting started for the first time They

don't necessarily they can't find sort
of the hand holding And the appreciation

and the time well spent with with each
and every person to really understand

what their problems are You know get
them over that first hurdle, even if

it's basic things like logging into
wordpress installing a theme You know,

these are types of things that we're
very happy to do um And, And it's great.

It's great for business.

You know, people like to talk about it.

You know, you think about, you know,
your, your everyday life and issues that

you've had, perhaps, outside of hosting.

You know, you can certainly draw a
lot of issues from hosting, but if

you look outside of hosting, you think
about other areas of your life, whether

it be your, I don't know, your cell
phone bill or your, your internet

or your cable provider or whatever.

There's always issues.

If you, if you call them.

They don't respond for a week,
they send you a letter in mail

to upsell, meanwhile, you know,
you're having a cable for a month.

Like, that's a common scenario.

if that same cable provider,
alternatively, you know, showed up on

your doorstep, you know, willing to fix
that issue in a handful of seconds, or

perhaps identified an issue before you
even reached out for them, you know,

you'd be so excited to share that good
experience that it just, it just kind

of becomes a little bit flabbergasting
that, that, You know, you're, you're,

you're just, you're just, you feel
so excited about that opportunity

to share that you, that you just do.

So we have a very disproportionate
amount of, you know, good conversations

and, you know, likes and, and, and
reshares and, and just, just sort

of spreading the good word around
and doing so at, at every level.

you know, we have some of the largest
WordPress agencies out there speaking

to us about, you know, development for
their clients because they know their

clients are going to get, you know,
bespoke solutions that are ultimately

going to solve their specific problems.

and at the same time, you know, people
just getting started for the first time,

maybe taking a course, you know, we're
always in those conversations because

it's like, okay, well, if you get stuck
at this point, you know, the excuse is

going to help and it just makes it easy.

matt: would you say word of mouth
is one of the largest driving

factors for growth in your business?

scott: Yeah.

I mean, it's, it's the only,
it's the only driving factor.

I mean, word of mouth is
sort of the, the result.

ultimately service is, is,
is really what's important.

You know, the way that I look at
it as far as growing the business.

Tim, our new CMO, he's come on board.

you know, we're an interesting point
in the business where, although we've

become, you know, we're an established
business, you know, with, you know, an

industry leading service and platform,
but we've never sort of told the story

and sort of Tim's here trying to help.

And it's interesting that the easiest
story to tell is really just kind of

listening, you know, getting out there and
connecting with people and just sort of

listening to the problems that ultimately
we've done a pretty good job at solving,

which is just just a lack of service.

So, you know, having Cutting
it infrastructure, really

optimized network delivery.

you know, call for enterprise
relationships, you know, onboard

solutions, engineers, like, you
know, some of the best, best system

admins that are out there, all this
stuff is, is great for service.

But ultimately, if you can listen to
the problems that a customer is having

and, and, and really deliberately
deliver solutions on, on sort of

a detailed per customer basis.

it's, it's very unique, pretty hard to do.

and, and frankly, we're.

We're, we're darn good at it.

So, telling the story just
about service is, is really what

our strategy is going forward.

matt: You have three primary navigation
items, on the Big Scoots website,

and I would say that anyone who maybe
saying that they have great support

and great whatever human interaction.

Would, it's very easy to sort of gut
check that you go to their website and

you look and you look at your three
primary navigations, its product and then

clients and why us and you're putting
that clients, you know, your, your case

studies, the, the folks that host with
you and you're putting why us, you're

sort of selling yourself first and
foremost, in my opinion, anyway, whereas

normally you might go to, I don't know,
any sass or especially any hosting site

and it's just going to be, you know,
product features, pricing, Whatever,

you know, support docs, you know, all
in like the primary navigation, whereas

you're leading with that, your, your
little chat bubble actually says speak

to a human versus just like get support.

So let me just put you on
the hot seat for a second.

scott: Yeah, pop it open.

See if you get a reply.

matt: Yeah.

No, I don't want to do, I
don't want to do that live.

scott: You'll get one.

You'll get one.

matt: what, what's your
take on, on, on AI?

I mean, a lot, I've been listening to,
obviously I listen to a ton of podcasts.

I have friends that are in the AI space
who are building products for call

centers for, you know, live chat support,
trying to get everything done with AI.

Do you have a take?

Do you ever think like you'll switch
to an AI generated chat system?

What's your take on, on AI and
how you can incorporate it?

scott: Yeah.

I mean, those, those are, those
are two completely different

questions in my opinion.

you know, my, my take on AI
is, you know, super exciting.

how we'll utilize it as a business
is really as an internal tool.

we actually have some initial.

Sort of inroads, you know, as, you
know, naturally very technical people.

there's just a lot of, interest
and appreciation for what

AI is and what it can do.

so sort of, you know, let's call
them a lot of kind of like after hour

projects and what have you, in and
amongst our team, really figuring

out ways to find better solutions to
commonly asked about or inquired about

problems, really at no point in time.

Ever with just sort of a stern
and completely, you know,

completely, honest, response.

Would I, would I say that, you know,
would it ever become sort of the

first, Communication point with us.

We would never put a bot up.

We would never put AI between
a customer and ourselves.

we've done a lot with our portal already.

So there's a customer facing portal
very much in line with, you know,

sort of a WP engine or Kinsta style
portal, you know, where you can, you

know, clone and stage and you request
new installs and all the rest of it.

That was that that's
been a solution for us.

For a very long time.

And we're always iterating on it.

in addition to that, that, that same
portal provides insights to the admins.

So our admins leverage the portal
for really quick, proactive insights,

you know, for example, uptime,
downtime, responsiveness to, to a

particular website, stuck processes,
you know, storage issues, there's

about 40 different data points that
we monitor and we do so, proactively.

So that way we can address
issues in advance of them

actually hitting the customer.

A lot of our customers.

actually their first outreach with us is a
response to one of our proactive monitors.

So it's a it's a really good
way to impress customers.

But naturally we have this entire
portal and ultimately it's a tool

that creates efficiency for our team.

So, for example, you know, monitoring.

You know, tens of thousands of websites,
you know, for, for, for reliability and

responsiveness and security and so forth,
sounds like a pretty daunting task.

And to my knowledge, no other host does
that, but if you create a solution that

ultimately empowers the admins who are,
who are, who are leveraging it and,

and creates efficiency, you can really
scale service in a way that maybe you

hadn't previously thought of, really
create, you know, fixing the issue

before it becomes, So to speak, and
that's something that we're very good at.

I think AI can help with that.

I think we can look at our literally
hundreds of thousands of closed solution

tickets, pull from that, trends and traits
and commonalities and try to find ways to

just be better from a proactive approach.

but in terms of initial outreach,
you know, solving problems, you

know, what can I help you with today?

you know, is it a domain issue?

You know, can I get you, you know,
that, that type of stuff drives me nuts.

And, and it would just, you know,
regardless of how it might affect the

bottom line, it would just, it would
just abs, it just, It wouldn't fly.

It just, you know, I don't
care what anybody says.

It's, it's, it's never going to replace
sort of a human greeting you, you know,

even, even if it is ultimately just
pleasantries and, and just, just getting

you to where you would otherwise have
gotten through AI, it's still a touch

point, where, you know, a customer can
have a great interaction with a member

of your team and even at that level,
it's, it's, it's just not worth it.

In my opinion, to, to save the
few bucks that, you know, you

don't need to, if you do it

matt: Human interaction will be
the next premium people pay for for

scott: Yeah, well, that's, it's
going and it's, it's the, the, the

service gap is only growing, right?

Like, you know, it's only been, you know,
you can only exist on the tailwinds of

WordPress growth for so long, right?

You know, WordPress has been accelerating
up into the right for, for so long.

still, you know, still growing
nowhere near where it had been.

How as a host, are you going to
position yourself, you know, into

the next phase of, you know, what
the WordPress ecosystem looks like?

And certainly, Detracting from your
support team, you know, there's, there's,

you know, there's been, you know,
just, just speaking plainly, there's,

there's been significant layoffs.

There's been significant, you know,
detraction on from R and D, you know,

in some of these larger agencies.

And it's, you're thinking to yourself,
like, You know, although the bottom

line has to make sense at a certain
level, on the same token, I feel like

people are missing the button here.

Like what, what really gets
people excited and what people

are really lacking is, is service.

And I think, you know, taking
away from those things just,

just doesn't make any sense.

So existing on the tailwinds of
WordPress and sort of just, just being

a host that whether it be race to the
bottom or just sort of being in that

space, just right time, right place.

I think is no more.

I think you have to provide actual value.

And I think the best way to provide
value is, is to do so through service.

Just, just hands down.

And that, that service translates
to performance, translates to

security, translate to scalability,
reliability, translates to all that.


matt: Yeah, I'm a big believer that
we're going to see You know, I, I think

over the last few years, especially
since the release of Gutenberg and

the block editor going into WordPress
core and site editor and all that

stuff, you know, I think we had that
dip where a lot of people freaked out.

Like, this is not for me anymore.

you know, developers, like the folks
that, You know, we're champions

of WordPress, a decade ago.

we're just like, ah, it's not for me.

I don't, I want, I don't
want to do this anymore.

And they sort of skipped
town for a little bit.

And of course it was a challenge.

Rocky road, right?

When the Brock, when the block
editor was going into, into core.

Anyway, all of that is to say is I
think we saw ourselves a little dip in

terms of excitement of WordPress and
you know, people just being excited

and providing services for it to now.

Services coming back again, right?

So if you're a freelancer
or an agency, I've seen it.

I mean, I've heard from people who are
like, I gave up four years ago, five

years ago, and now I'm back because
the other tool I was using just, it

just, I just kept hitting the wall.

I couldn't customize it.

I couldn't get themes for it.

I certainly couldn't get plugins like I
could get for WordPress, but at the end of

the day, there also wasn't any community
around a lot of these other either closed

sourced platforms, or if they were open
source, they were just far too small.

Where you just found yourself
sitting in the room by yourself.

So you're just like, I'm
going back to WordPress.

I think we're going to have this
rise, of services again for the

freelancer, creative, boutique agency.

And if that's you listening
to this podcast, let me

know if you think I'm right.

But number two, work
with, another creator.

Brand like big scoots who also
appreciates that human connection, right?

Because the better things can happen.

It doesn't have, you don't have to
start your agency or your service

and look for the most lowest price
for hosting because you're afraid to

put out the money or whatever it is.

You work with people,
build up a relationship.

And I think that relationship,
that human thing is going to be oh

so important for the next decade.

If we get it that far, the next
decade will be very important for

us to, to formulate that stuff.

scott: Yeah, value and ultimately the
perception of it is, is really key in

our space more than it's ever been.

And yeah, if you're, if you're a
developer, if you're an agency,

new or old, I think you're always
struggling ways, struggling for ways

to provide as much value as possible.

And that goes, goes for
everybody, ourselves included.

If you, if you think about a WordPress
site owner, whether they be brand new

to WordPress or an established agency
or business, they all lack the same

thing, which is some level of service.

And I would say that's the case for
basically every type of service in

the, in the WordPress ecosystem.

So whether it be hosting, whether
it be, you know, design development,

it really doesn't matter.

There's always a lacking of service.

So, you know, if you're an individual
who's willing To look and find value

in as many places as possible and then
provide those to your, your clients or

your end users, you're, you're always
going to win because there's always

people running in the other direction
as businesses, you know, trying to

cut the bottom line, trying to be more
profitable, trying to do things in

my personal opinion, the wrong way.


You know, we set out, you
know, I, it's kind of funny.

We, we had some, some words up on our,
you know, a recent blog post and it was

like a screenshot from our first, from
our first website ever, and he was, you

know, a little cartoon photo of, of me.

And I was saying something along
the lines of, you know, service

first, always, no matter what.

And, you know, we just kind of been
preaching the same thing ever since.

as I had said, unfortunately, we got
a little lucky with, finding the right

people at the right time, but we were
also able to build, you know, this,

this amazing platform and, and really
dial in infrastructure and network

and, and service the level we have.

But, ultimately I think people
are looking for service.

They're looking for value.

And there's, there's a lot, there's,
there's lots of ways to find that and,

and, and, and, and give it to folks,
it's just a matter of, you know,

maybe, maybe some extra effort and,
and, and looking under a few rocks

you might not have looked at before.

matt: BigScoots.


Scott, thanks for hanging out today.

Anywhere else folks can go to say
thanks for doing the interview today?

scott: Yeah, I mean, just our socials.

I mean, we love interacting
with everybody out there too.

also, any upcoming WordCamp.

I believe we're going to be at WordCamp,
you, I think we're going to WordCamp USA.

WordCamp Phoenix was our last one,
but, if you want to keep up to date

on our socials and meet us in person,
we're always eager to, to catch

up and see what everybody's up to.

matt: Scott, you're telling me, Scott,
you're a CEO without a newsletter

telling people how to run their business?

Come on.

scott: That's true.

You know, it's, it's, it is one of
those things that we've kind of lacked

on, which, I'm kind of happy to have.

it's, it's nice to, it's nice to kind
of just be behind the scenes and,

and just kind of keep the machine
running, from a marketing perspective.

But, yeah, no, I, I, I'm afraid not.

I'm afraid not.

If you do sign up with BigScoots, if you
do make the decision, you're not going

to get a whole lot of mail from us.


matt: Yeah.

Awesome stuff.



Scott, thanks for hanging out today.

scott: yeah.

Thanks so much.

Appreciate it.