Interview with Reneta Tsankova from SiteGround


Last week, we ran a successful giveaway and fundraiser to celebrate WPBeginner’s 5th birthday and help build 2 schools in Guatemala through Pencils of Promise charity. This would not be possible without our Platinum sponsors who donated $5000 towards the campaign. I want to highlight each of them by interviewing them about their business.

In this interview, we have Reneta Tsankova, COO of SiteGround web hosting.

Reneta and I first met a year or so ago at a conference. We had a formal meal and soon after exchanged several emails. Later we started hanging out at different WordCamps and industry events. What I loved about Reneta and SiteGround is their motivation and dedication to improving their platform and serving their customers.

I have personally tested their customer service (anonymously) for quality assurance, and I had one of the best live chat experiences.

When I publicly announced the giveaway, Siteground quickly stepped up to support the cause.

I have had tons of interesting conversations with Reneta at WordCamps, and I love learning about all the cool stuff they have.

Having that said, let’s jump into the interview.

1. When you started SiteGround in 2004, what was your goal?

Back in 2004, we were bunch of inexperienced university graduates (some of us still students) without much of a philosophy or long-term vision. We were only aiming at providing a decent service because we realized at the time we weren’t much different from the rest of the crowd, and we thought that the customers might stick to us due to better support. Ten years later, that belief in the power of good support is still fundamental for us, although we bred other values as well and differentiated from our competitors a lot.

2. SiteGround has recently re-branded and has a lot of WordPress focus. How has the growth of WordPress impacted your business?

We have been involved with various open source projects, and we host customers using hundreds of different applications. In the last 2-3 years, we have seen a trend of more and more clients choosing WordPress over other scripts. That was the main indicator for us that we had to double the efforts in making our service better adapted to the needs of WordPress users.

We started thinking of ways to make our offer more appealing to these users and got more engaged in the WordPress community via sponsoring, contributing and getting to know the people in it. It all added up at some point. We managed to build the all-inclusive WordPress hosting package that includes special performance boosters and all kinds of conveniences such as free migration and installation service for new-comers, integrated WP-CLI and 1-click staging for WP developers, and more.

The rebranding of the company was not specifically WordPress related, its aim was to communicate better our values as a company. However, it also helped us to communicate all the WordPress goodies to our visitors more clearly, resulting in convincing more customers to choose SiteGround over other providers.

3. With all the tools available for building websites, how is WordPress different for you than other software that you support?

WordPress is one of the biggest and fastest growing from where we stand. One thing we like about it is that the project has a solid long-term vision and is maintained and supported quite adequately by both the key people behind it and the large and growing community as a whole. That makes our job easier in terms of maintaining it on our platform.

4. I see a significant increase in your involvement with WordCamps and other WordPress related events. How has that impacted your business?

Indeed, we are attending and sponsoring WordCamps quite frequently. The first impact which directly affected our day-to-day operations was the increased travel frequency. As we are based in Europe, we often fly over to the USA for an event. The downside initially was that the key 2-3 SiteGround people who were attending all WordCamps got burnt out. So we had to introduce a set of rules to dilute the frequency of trips per person and also add more people on our events team.

The positives on the other hand are a lot and compensate for the challenges we encountered. We managed to become part of the community and better understand the needs and problems of the users, which in return helped us in delivering a better experience for these users. SiteGround also gained a lot of visibility that would not have been possible without attending WordCamps.

5. What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part for me is to handle growth. SiteGround has been growing rapidly, both in number of people, projects and clients. It takes lots of planning, communication and day-to-day hands-on approach to keep things going without customers experiencing any bumps and without all of us SiteGround employees losing a sense of direction.

6. If you can put it in 3 sentences, what sets SiteGround apart from other hosts?

We manage our hosting service in a way that we feel proud with its quality. We have a great team of people with a strong passion for what they do and a unique company culture that push us to constantly get better and better. We rely on lots of smart, in-house solutions, which set us apart and allow us to achieve security, reliability, and efficiency that other providers can’t.

Why did you decide to support this cause and what does it mean to you?

We are a very human-oriented company and that goes in many directions. The way we treat our customers and the way we treat our employees are the two things that easily become obvious as we work hard to make both groups happy. We also believe that it is great if our organization can bring more happiness in general even outside the circle of the people directly involved with it.

In fact this is not our first involvement with children in a disadvantaged position and providing educational opportunities. Two years ago, for example, we started to support a smart orphan kid through college. He wanted to study and was full of dreams on how that could change his life. That coincided with what we believe in – having a good education can make your life better. So we gave him a full scholarship and check out on him regularly to make sure he gets the guidance and mentorship he needs.

However, from our point of view the hardest part of being involved in charity work is actually finding the right organization to grant our financial support to. We should admit that we do not have expertise in either doing the charity ourselves, or in evaluating the possible organizations we can sponsor and this prevents us to help with the full extent we have. We decided to support your cause, not only because it was a good one, but also because we know you and we believe in your ability to manage the donated money in a way that will yield results. And how come we know you? Well this bring us back to the main topic of the interview: WordPress and WordCamps are to blame :)

Thanks Reneta for your time and the very generous donation to help build schools.

Everyone, please check out SiteGround web hosting.

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