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      Interview: Nuhad Karaki, Chief Operating Officer
    Minerva Network Systems   

    In ancient times, Romans worshipped Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. In modern times, customers looking for a web host provider or a reseller channel can look to Minerva Network Systems for the wisdom to help their eBusiness grow.

    HostIndex.com spoke with Nuhad Karaki, Minerva's Chief Operating Officer. Here's what we learned…  

    HostIndex.com: Minerva Network Systems has been providing eBusiness solutions to the SME market since 1995. Why have you decided to target SME's?

    Nuhad Karaki: The SME market is larger than the enterprise market and has a larger scope to it. There is too much competition in the Fortune 1000 market and not enough room to grow. We are a smaller company and focus on the smaller sized client - to whom we know we can provide superior service.


    HostIndex.com: Do you also target other segments of the web hosting market?

    Nuhad Karaki: We provide fully managed services and co-lo, dedicated and shared web hosting. The size of the client varies from $20 per month to $50,000. In addition, we provide web design and eCommerce solutions.

    HostIndex.com: Minerva launched its new web site in March. How has it been received by current and potential customers?

    Nuhad Karaki: The new web site has been very well received. We have had many compliments about it from both clients and vendors. It has attracted more customers. Our new site features web based email for all of our clients, an online Partner Program database, an online signup form that allows clients to customize every aspect of their service, detailed descriptions of all of our services, easy to use support request forms, and advanced tools and information for clients.

    HostIndex.com: Why do you believe Minerva Network Systems offers the best alternative to anyone looking for a web hosting provider?

    Nuhad Karaki: Minerva offers a customer true personalized service. Some of our clients know our technicians by name. We work very hard to be professional, yet extremely personable. We truly go out of our way for our customers and have excellent references. We have survived the "dot.com cleansing" and are gaining ground by the day.

    We focus on excellent service because we take everything else as a given, i.e. the technical aspects such as uptime, latency, SLA, network architecture, etc. (80% of our staff is dedicated to our data center and NOC.) We take the technical side seriously and expect any other hosting provider to do the same. However, when it comes to service we show that we will bend over backwards for our clients.

    HostIndex.com: What is your vision of the future of the web hosting industry?

    Nuhad Karaki: I think web hosting is moving to be part and parcel of any company's business - simply due to the Internet. Everyone needs a web site and many businesses depend on it. Web hosting is not a commodity as most people think. It will continue to grow and evolve, and churn out new products and services. Bandwidth is going to drop significantly within the next 3 years and as it does, people will be able to practically watch TV from their PC. All this content will reside at some web hosting company on client servers.

    HostIndex.com: When did you start your reseller program? What market conditions led to this decision?

    Nuhad Karaki: Our reseller program has been in effect since the very inception of Minerva Network Systems in 1995. We credit our reseller program for our fast growth in the early years of the company. In 1995, the market was very new and demand was just beginning in the small to medium size market. Many of our resellers were designers or programmers using specialized software that not all web hosts were supporting. For example, we offered ColdFusion hosting at a time when most web hosts were not supporting it.

    Because of that, our name spread quickly throughout the ColdFusion developer community, and a substantial percent of our hosting went to resellers who were ColdFusion programmers specializing in ColdFusion hosting.

    Our program was modified in November 2000 into two paths - Referral Partners and Reseller Partners. Referral Partners are partners who only refer clients to us and let us handle the rest. If a referred client is signed, then the Referring partner will receive a commission equal to one full months service charged to that client. We find this option is now very popular. Reseller Partners re-label our service and sells directly to their clients. Resellers are given volume discounts on our already competitive prices, allowing them to profit on the margin.

    HostIndex.com: What do you offer your resellers partners that they might not find elsewhere?

    Nuhad Karaki: We offer an online account system that allows partners to submit referrals, check on the status of referrals, check the status of commissions, reseller pricing tiers, and much more. Once a partner has signed up, they are issued a login and password that allows them to access their account information.

    We also offer superior service. Most web hosting companies will treat resellers as wholesalers who must independently handle all of the support and administration of their clients. We value our resellers as much as we value any of our clients, and will assist them with anything they need.

    HostIndex.com: What is your vision of the future of the reseller industry?

    Nuhad Karaki: We believe the future of the reseller industry is very strong. The web hosting market is very strong and the barrier to entry is very low for resellers. Private label resellers can advertise the same infrastructure and basic support amenities that their web host provides, for a fraction of the cost. As long as the reseller has an organized support and accounting infrastructure, they should be able to grow and profit in the web hosting reseller market.

    The key to their success is to partner with a web host that is extremely reliable, with the highest standards of support because their clients will be receiving their support through the intermediary reseller. Along with the support and service, resellers must focus on volume and clients who are operating very stable web sites, not requiring much customized support in terms of back-ups, load balancing, bandwidth, specialized software, etc. This type of service can be very difficult for a reseller to manage.

    We give our reseller partners the ability to sell hosting services to their customers without spending a fortune on their own equipment, connections, and other requirements of a world-class data center.

    HostIndex.com:  Thanks for taking some time to speak with us here at HostIndex.com.  



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