Best answers from “Ask Afrihost CEO Gian Visser Anything”

On 9 March MyBroadband launched its first “Ask Anything” discussion, where Afrihost CEO Gian Visser personally answered questions from MyBroadband members.

The question-and-answer session was very popular, with close to 400 questions asked by MyBroadband members.

The discussion also notched up 20,000 views within the first 24 hours – highlighting its popularity.

Here are some of the most interesting questions and answers from the session.

What is the “next step” for Afrihost to take the business to a new level?

I think the simple answer to that question may be counter-intuitive. In order to take our business to a new level we first need to go back to basics. We need to deliver the best service and products we possibly can to our clients.

We have some great products that already exist. But I believe the key is to make sure we strive to improve every facet of what we are already doing and do it better. New products and services are obviously necessary in the evolution of any business, but if we don’t get the basics right we won’t be making any Big Steps forward!

Do you have the same network as Axxess, or do you and Axxess manage your networks separately?

We use the same backbone as Axxess, but we manage our business rules separately. We want both Afrihost and Axxess clients to have a unique experience, which they do. Our teams worked together closely making sure that the core network is robust and scalable so that there is potential for growth for both companies in that respect.

What was the first thing you bought after you received the cash from the MTN acquisition in your bank account?

First thing I spent money on was an island holiday with my family. I like investing in experiences – I believe they give you most joy long term.

Will you ever amalgamate Afrihost and Axxess?

Our plan with Axxess is to continue running them completely separately from Afrihost. We have an absolutely superb team running Axxess, and I believe the innovations that come out of them would never exist if we combine our companies into one brand. The fact that they won ISP of the Year last year shows what a great team they are. Don’t want to tamper with a winning formula!

When will you offer uncapped 3G?

I would personally love to offer this or something similar. However, right now, we can’t do this. We pay per GB of mobile data moved – no matter the time of day or night. And given what our (Afrihost’s) input costs per GB of mobile data is, we can simply not do this. Even at a much lower throttled rate.

How did you decide on your company name?

One of the guys who was with us at the beginning (Wikus Stander) came up with the name. We all spent a morning writing down names and then going and checking whether they were available as and .com domains. In the end we had a list of about 10. I think we chose Afrihost because we thought anything with ‘Afri’ in front of it sounded big and well-established.

And in fact, the first ever client I met with said “Aaah yes, Afrihost. I’ve heard good things about you”. The irony was that at that time our website was not up, we didn’t have one client and NO-ONE had even heard the name before!

Mac or PC? iOS or Android?

Mac and iOS.

In the process of your business growing “from your garage” to what it is now, at what stage did you go “This just got real… this is gonna get big!”?

I don’t think I ever had that moment! We were just doing what we thought was best day to day and it somehow got to this! One of my favourite sayings is: “It takes 10 years of hard work to become an overnight success”. And it’s been a lot like that. It’s still quite surreal in some ways. There are days I feel like I’m still working in ‘my garage’. And of course there are days when I don’t. But the best days are the “still feel like I’m in my garage” days.

Will Afrihost open a Cape Town office?

We don’t have any plans to open offices in Cape Town. Although I am first on the list to head that office up if we ever do!

Do you switch off when you get home?

I do try to switch off for a while when I get home so that I can spend some good, quality time with my wife and kiddos. Don’t always get that right though!

Can I have a pony?

Absolutely. Drop me a PM with your parents’ contact details and I’ll have a stern chat with them about this travesty of justice!

How is it that Axxess is able to offer slightly cheaper prices than Afrihost when Afrihost is the parent company?

What?! Heads will roll!! Seriously though, Axxess build their products and experiences independently of us. Sometimes they see gaps or opportunities that we miss, and sometimes it’s the other way around. We love working with them for that reason. And we can always copy their great ideas.

What (about Afrihost) keeps you awake at night?

Everything! How’s our team doing. Are they coping? The joy levels of our clients. Are our products performing? What is going wrong? And how to fix it. What could go wrong? What could we do better? Why are we sucking in certain areas. How is the dev for our new launches going? How are we going to launch?

The emails I have to write to communicate certain things to our clients. To our team. The meetings I’m having tomorrow and what I’m going to say. The bagazillions of emails I haven’t yet got around to replying to. The Whatsapps and SMS’s that are still languishing as unread and unreplied to on my phone. The many, many, many (ever increasing) invoices and expenses. And I could go on and on but I’d like to get through all these questions at some point!

Have you made a strategic business decision that was ever premised on MyBroadband members’ discussions on these forums?

Absolutely! We spend hours and hours reading the MyBroadband threads such as this one, and we take very careful note of what the members are saying and discussing. I believe that MyBroadband members and readers are tech influencers and if you can be the ISP of choice of the white hot centre of the market you are in the fire that will spread outwards. Don’t tell any of the other ISPs though.

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Best answers from “Ask Afrihost CEO Gian Visser Anything”