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Small-business owners who yearn to get wired have an ally in Interland, a company that brings the Web to firms of all sizes.

Small-business owners who yearn to get wired have an ally in Atlanta-based Interland, a company that brings the Web to firms of all sizes. CEO Joel Kocher chats about the Web, industry gaps, and building a halo.

How did the company get started?

Interland was founded in 1995, at a time when the Internet was not recognized as an important business tool. In light of Interland’s vision for the market potential of Web hosting, the company developed a three-part strategy to establish an early leadership position: build scale through M&A activity, integration and organic growth. Starting in 1999, Interland made a series of carefully planned, strategic acquisitions of the leading hosting companies to enhance its position in the business-class Web hosting market. By 2001, Interland had grown into the largest Web hosting company specifically dedicated to the success of small and medium businesses

Why do you think there’s a need for your service?

Interland’s mission is to provide small and medium-sized businesses with everything they need to be successful online. There are roughly 20 million small and home-based businesses that do not have a Web presence. While these business owners are becoming increasingly aware of the benefit of the Web, many continue to struggle with developing effective sites, executing proven online marketing programs, promoting their sites in relevant search engines, and creating additional selling opportunities through e-commerce applications.

Why do you target small and medium-sized businesses specifically?

In order to succeed online, small businesses need more than just a Web site. At Interland, we partner with small businesses to help them establish a professional online Identity, promote their Web site, interact with their customers and have the ability to do transactions via the Internet.

How many small businesses still don’t have a Web site?

We did a recent survey of small businesses, which revealed that only one-third of those interviewed have a Web site. Of those small business owners that do have a Web presence, the top two reasons for having a Web site are to find new customers and to better service existing customers.

What are the largest challenges that you see in providing your service?

Perception and education. The barriers to small businesses adopting the Web have traditionally been time, complexity, and cost. Interland offers the best value and the best price. The challenge comes when trying to educate the small business owners on our offering, getting them to realize that we have eliminated these three barriers.

As businesses establish an online presence, their needs must change. How do you handle this?

Companies that are succeeding in the marketplace have evolved with their customers, transforming from a reactive to a proactive model. So far, Interland has been able to successfully identify gaps in our industry and develop a product or solution to proactively meet that need. Because of our history, our customers turn to us as a partner for their business, because we’re consistently developing new products and services to better service our customers.

What new products do you have for these customers?

We have two: blueHALO and Business Solutions. Two years and $2 million in the making, blueHALO is Interland’s shared hosting architecture designed by Interland engineers to bring a new level of reliability to shared Web hosting. Our other offering, Interland’s Business Solutions was launched in May 2003. It’s the only complete suite of tools and services to help small and medium businesses build, manage and promote a professional online presence.

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