It was a gradual idea that slowly manifested into what is known as Thexyz today. After recently qualifying as a French polisher, I was adamant to run my own business preferred traditional techniques to modern technology. The business did really well initially, then as a slow summer
season dragged on, I knew I had to step up my game if I was to stay in business. It was the early 2000's and the internet was booming. I know... I will start a website to advertise my business. They seem all the rage these days.
Letting my creative side loose, I ended up creating quite a cool website and it didn't take long for the leads to come in, except they weren't French polishing leads as I had hoped, but leads for web development, hosting and email services. Thexyz was born on Thexyz.com domain to advertise my new found skills in email, domains and websites.
Our customers are now very much a mixed bag, located in over 100 countries and some with over 1000 staff have come to rely on the reliability of Thexyz web services. During the years that followed Edward Snowden's revelations regarding widespread government spying on private citizens, we saw significant growth in the consumer market.
In general, we attract a more privacy aware consumer that has led to some odd requests to maintain a high level of privacy. I would like to discuss these more, although I am limited here for privacy reasons.
What happened in the early stages?
Thexyz has been funded by my own investment. I had some great early customers that were keen to see Thexyz get off the ground.
As for finding those first employees, I would let places like Starbucks screen people. If you chat to a barista at Starbucks, you will find that they are usually quite well over qualified for the role. They are able to make it to work on time, hold off the responsibilities of a job and all this for modest pay. I find headhunting Starbucks employees a great strategy to source some of the quality staff.
Did you run any companies prior?
In my teenage years, I ran an eBay business selling my artwork online. Back then I lacked the direction, discipline, and dedication to really make it work. I later set up a French polishing business which somehow morphed into thexyz.
I am not sure what my family thinks or if they even know what I do.
What have you learned?
While there are many places to host your data and register a domain, I think many services here lack the moral fibre to make decisions that protect user privacy. I like to think of Thexyz as an exception here. When things go wrong, it is when I realize I am the right person for the job, the accept the challenge and find the solution.
Many sales come from existing users that have referred someone to host mail with because of our excellent reliability record. We also generate some sales through our email newsletter and social would bring in the least amount of leads. After all people are there to be social, not to buy something.
There is a lot more competition in the email space today. When we started out, there was no Gmail, no G-Suite, no ProtonMail and no Office 365. It has definitely become a more crowded space that has reduced our growth. These new offerings hinder our ability to accelerate growth.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
I keep a keen eye on competition to see what they're working on and how they're focusing their marketing efforts. Any software we have developed has been released to be open source. We have no patents or trademarks.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?
Our main app would be Thexyz, we use it for our own internal email hosting and as an email company we can't live without it. You can't actually use the internet without an email address so rather essential.
Another app we also developed in house is GroupList.io. We use this for customer communications, meeting GDPR compliance and also providing free services to attract new users.
Nextcloud is also used a lot internally for document management.
What are your favourite books?
Finnegans Wake has helped me immensely in business and in life.
What are your next steps?
We are currently working on introducing an internet security bundle package. It includes our secure email app access, a VPN and premium anti-virus for a reduced price. The user interface of our email app has also become outdated in recent years. We have recently begun discussing how we are going to tackle modernising the user interface. There are several other security features we are already working to have released this year so I wouldn't expect any upgrades to the UI until next year.
In 5 years, Thexyz will be nearly 20 years old. I expect it to continue serving businesses and individuals with reliable communication services. I am enjoying running the business right now, I can't imagine selling at this point. Current sales are at $2M and it's growing each year. I am aware that nothing is forever, I think my user base will feel cheated if the company is sold to a company that does not uphold a similar stance on user privacy.