The Best Web Hosting Services

Quick Sprout recommendations for web hosting services are based on months of research and testing. We’ll never point you to a product or service that we don’t believe in or have first-hand experience with. Our content is reader-supported, which means if you click on one of our links to a recommended web hosting service, we may earn a commission.

Our Picks for the Best Web Hosts

The best web hosting service for most people will be as much as they can afford — web hosting really is one of those things where you get what you pay for. Lots of small businesses will be very happy with a great shared hosting provider. Shared web hosting means your site shares a server’s resources with lots of others, which cuts way down on costs. The best, like SiteGround, InMotion, and Dreamhost, do that without sacrificing your site’s performance or customer support.

Best Shared Hosting for Small Businesses

We focus the bulk of this review on shared hosting because it makes the most sense — cost and features-wise — for most small businesses. If you don’t need more, why pay more? You’ll be happy with any of our top picks, which we walk through in more detail below.

Best Web Hosts for WordPress

That being said, if your site runs on WordPress — and you have the budget for it — we won’t hide the benefits of a fully managed WordPress host. They’re optimized to operate WordPress only, which means your site will be faster, more secure, and more stable than on a shared hosting plan. Fully managed WordPress hosts also do nearly all your site updates and maintenance for you, which makes the heftier price tag very much worth it for anyone who doesn’t have the time, resources, or interest for backend admin. Our favorite is WP Engine, although Flywheel is a good fit for small sites with a smaller budget.

Best Free Web Hosting

We suggest avoiding free web hosting outside of a few specific scenarios: a temporary site for an event or an extremely small, extremely low-traffic site. (Though we challenge you — why are you building such a small low-traffic site? Think big!) If you are doing either of those things, we suggest exploring a free website builder like Ucraft or Google Sites first. It’s an all-in-one solution that’ll have you skipping right over web hosting.

They’re both very basic, limited builders, but they are easier to use than a free web host, and they’re the only two that allow you to host on a custom domain names (as opposed to a subdomain). So your temporary and very small site will at least have a trustworthy url of your own choosing.

  • UCraft – Best Free One-Page Website Builder
  • Google Sites – Runner-Up Free Website Builder

Our 3 Favorite Web Hosting Providers for Most Small Businesses

This is a quick overview of our top picks. You can read more in our review of best web hosts for small business.

1. SiteGround

  • Best reputation
  • Most robust shared plans

SiteGround is a hugely well-regarded web host, with a rabid fan base and glowing reviews — something especially noticeable in an industry full of fed-up (and vocal) customers.

Along with DreamHost and Bluehost, SiteGround is one of WordPress’s three recommended web hosts. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, there are some elements of managed WordPress hosting is built into all of its shared hosting plans — something InMotion considers an upgrade. If your site uses WordPress, and you’re not quite ready to budget for a fully managed WordPress host, this is absolutely a perk: automatic updates, streamlined security, and expert technical support that are all just part of the package.

SiteGround is widely considered to be a technology leader, particularly in the shared hosting space where all hosts are duking it out for business. Its servers are ultra fast and extra secure, and SiteGround is constantly deploying new updates and technology to keep them that way.

While all its shared hosting plans are powerful, SiteGround is especially well-known for its highest-tier shared plan, GoGeek, which is suped up with tools developers will find especially useful, including a staging server and Git repo creation. Lots of small business and personal websites will probably find this overkill, but if your needs are more complex than the basics, SiteGround has a lot to love.

That said, once you blow through SiteGround’s introductory pricing (you choose contracts for one, two, or three years) your plan’s price triples: its lowest tier of shared hosting jumps from $4/month to $12 and its highest tier jumps from $12/month to $35. That doesn’t feel great. In fact, it was the reason for most of the one-star reviews on TrustPilot.

SiteGround also has the shortest trial period of all our other shared hosting our top picks: only 30 days.

In addition to shared hosting, SiteGround offers upgrades to cloud hosting and dedicated servers.

2. InMotion Hosting

  • Best for beginners
  • Most impressive customer support

InMotion may not look flashy, but it’s a solid web host with truly excellent technology, a wide assortment of plans, and a legion of longtime customers. Its massive self-help knowledge base is the industry standard, and customer support is among the best. Don’t believe it? Try for yourself. InMotion’s 90-day free trial period for shared hosting is one of the longest around, second only to DreamHost’s 97-day trial.

There’s not a lot of hierarchy in InMotion’s plans. Upgrading from its lowest-tier shared plan, Launch, to Power or to Pro doesn’t unlock access to lots more slick tools or free add-ons. Upgrading is simply designed to accommodate websites that require more oomph — not to upsell. It’s a straightforward approach we like, especially for small businesses and websites that aren’t overly complex.

InMotion regularly runs promo pricing, with deals that start as low as $5/month. Normal pricing for shared hosting bumps up to $8–$9/month after the initial contract is up.

In addition to shared hosting, InMotion offers upgrades to managed WordPress hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers.

3. DreamHost

  • Honorable mention

Like SiteGround, DreamHost is one of WordPress’s three recommended hosts, and includes some managed WordPress hosting in its basic shared plans (it also offers a managed plan with more bells and whistles called DreamPress). Monthly plans under $3/month are available if you pay annually, $8/month if you’d like to add email. Like InMotion, it has an industry-leading free trial period — a full 97-day money-back guarantee — and transparent pricing that doesn’t increase after your initial contract. It’s the best of both worlds.

DreamHost is notable for being completely customized, skipping the customary cPanel that SiteGround, InMotion, and so many other web hosts use for a control panel it’s built and tailored in-house. Think of it a little like Apple versus Android: Dreamhost customers love it, but it’s not universally compatible should you ever migrate to or from a different host.

In addition to shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting, Dreamhost offers upgrades to VPS and cloud hosting, as well as dedicated servers.

Spotlight on Managed WordPress Hosts

This is a quick overview of our top picks. Read more in our review of best web hosting for WordPress.

WP Engine

  • Most popular managed WordPress host

When most people think of managed WordPress hosting, they think WP Engine. And for good reason — it provides truly excellent service. That service comes at a price. A fully managed WordPress host is noticeably more expensive than shared hosting providers. WP Engine’s lowest-priced plan is $35/month, and that’s only for one 10GB site with max 25,000 visitors/month. If you look at the numbers only, InMotion surpasses WP Engine for $4/month.

Pricing structure of WP Engine plans

But when you factor in what WP Engine does for that price, it’s an incredibly appealing option for WordPress site owners. As a managed WordPress host, WP Engine only provides service to WordPress users, which means its entire infrastructure can be optimized to make WordPress run its best. Lots of stuff that most site owners have to manage with plugins on the front-end, WP Engine takes care of automatically behind the scenes at the server level: caching, security patches, core and plugin updates. The list goes on. This makes for a site that’s notably faster than what you’d get with even the best shared web host, with virtually zero downtime or glitches.

Customer support is also laser-focused on WordPress, which makes for highly competent knowledgeable support staff available through tracked tickets and on live chat 24/7. The biggest WP Engine caveat is its list of banned plugins and scripts. By disallowing certain add-ons, WP Engine can maintain its highly optimized service — but that could be a dealbreaker for sites with a banned plugin that’s integral to business.

Flywheel

  • Best managed WordPress host for small sites

Flywheel is newer to the managed WordPress space, and offers small websites with smaller budgets a lot of the great services of WP Engine. Its Tiny plan gives 5GB websites with 5,000 monthly visitors most of the performance and security enhancements — plus expert WordPress support – for $14/month. That said, it’s not until you get to Flywheel’s $69/month package that you gain access to free CDN and a free staging site, both of which are built into all of WP Engine’s service tiers.

Flywheel's managed WordPress pricing for a single site
Flywheel has also eked out a niche market of agency and freelance designers, who are consistently building and/or managed new WordPress sites. Cool tailored features include “blueprints” for theme and plugin settings you use regularly, plus access to password protected demo sites to show works in progress. Multiple users get their own accounts and access levels, and transferring Flywheel billing to clients is also streamlined.

A Quick Review of Free Website Builders

This is a quick overview of our top picks. Read more in our review of the best free web hosting.

Ucraft

  • Free one-page website
  • Custom domain name
  • “Powered by Ucraft” ad in bottom right corner

Ucraft is a drag-and-drop builder that lets you create a long, scrolling “landing page” site for free. It’s not unlimited. Ucraft is build using “elements” — a text block is one element, a button is another — and you only get 50. But it provides a nice rolodex of modern, customizable templates and is one of only two website builders out there than allows you to use your own domain name.

Some of the customizable templates available from Ucraft website builder.
Ucraft’s drag-and-drop templates are clean and modern.

Google Sites

  • Free (very) simple website
  • Custom domain name
  • Google Sites ad in footer

Google Sites is the other free website builder that allows custom domain names as opposed to sub-domains. Google Sites is extremely basic: You get one template and limited layouts to work with, and they aren’t exactly pretty. But you also can have as many pages as you want, and it integrates with every other Google service, including Docs, Forms, Slides, and GMail. If you’re looking for something simple, or are already paying for GSuite, it’s a no brainer.

The six themes available on Google Sites
Google Sites limits you to one basic template with a few themes.

Free Web Hosts to Consider

We don’t really recommend free web hosting. If you can’t get what you need from Ucraft or Google Sites, we think you’ll be more satisfied paying for web hosting from SiteGround, InMotion, Dreamhost.

But if you’re set on a free web host, or want some hosting perks like email hosting, we suggest trying Awardspace (5GB bandwidth, 1GB storage, 1 email account), Atspace (unlimited bandwidth, 1GB storage, 1 email account, or Freehostia (6MB bandwidth, 250MB storage, 3 email accounts).

How to Find the Best Web Hosting Provider for You

First, get a handle on what you actually need from your web host

The first thing to understand is how much web hosting your site or sites need to function well, without paying for what you don’t need. It starts with a game of Match the Specs.

Knowing your site’s stats (or what you predict your site’s stats will be) before you start comparing options and offers will help prevent that upsold-at-the-register feeling. Here are the basic ones to know:

    • Storage: How many gigabytes of space does your website need?
    • Number of sites: How many domains are you looking to host?
    • Bandwidth: How many visitors do you get in a month? Do you plan on any high-volume traffic surges (for example, from a viral blog post, a big PR push, Black Friday)
    • Supported technology: What programs, features, and apps does your site use (for example Perl, Joomla, a shopping cart)? What operating system is your website compatible with?

Match what you need with what each host offers, and try not to get too distracted by the stuff a host offers that you aren’t going to use — Bluehost isn’t a better host than DreamHost because it supports Drupal if you’re never going to use Drupal.

At the shared hosting level — the most common and where most websites start out — lots of providers are fairly tit for tat: two or three tiers of plans with a variety of perks, functionality, and resources that increase with each tier. Unless there are specific conditions you’re trying to meet (you really do need that Drupal, for instances) at a pure specs point of view, you’d probably be happy with any of them.

What does unlimited and unmetered mean?

Many web hosts advertise “unlimited” or “unmetered” bandwidth and storage on their plans, which means there are no set thresholds for the amount of resources your website is allowed to use at any given time. But, as Hostgator puts it, “unlimited doesn’t mean infinite.” If you’re negatively impacting the other sites on your server, every web host in the world will throttle your usage and/or suspend your account until you optimize your site or upgrade to a higher plan. Most let you know you’re exceeding your usage with an email a day or two before they take action.

Even though this sounds alarming, most websites will likely never experience this. (Bluehost claims that 99.95 percent of its 2 million websites stay within “normal” usage.)

Then, put customer service to the test

Beyond any basic “does my website have what it needs to function well,” customer support is the single most important thing a web host can offer. Think of it like health insurance. It doesn’t matter how robust the policy is. If the claims process is a nightmare, you’re going to switch providers.

Customer support can be split into live support — phone calls, help desk emails, and chat — and knowledge centers, which include everything from help articles to tutorials to community forums to blogs. Both live and self-help support are vital for when you’re having issues in set-up or performance.

When it comes to a knowledge center, you want a catalog that’s well-organized and easy to search, with a huge library of hyper-specific content. Bonus points for active moderators who are answering questions.

As for live support, your priorities are fast access and nuanced, specific help from people who know what they’re talking about. That’s tricky to evaluate without being a long-term customer.

One way is to get a sense of a web host’s reputation, particularly over the past two years.

If you start reading user reviews, you’ll notice how many are focused on customer support. This is especially apparent with Bluehost, HostGator, and GoDaddy, whose products rank high with industry publications like CNET and PCMag, but who are ravaged by customers unhappy with the the support they’re provided.

Ratings and reputation don’t always match up

  SiteGround InMotion DreamHost Bluehost HostGator GoDaddy
Percentage of 5-star user reviews on
WhoIsHostingThis
92%
(1954 total reviews)
67%
(549 total reviews)
54%
(251 total reviews)
43%
(480 total reviews)
37%
(572 total reviews)
27%
(584 total reviews)
Trust Pilot ★★★★★
(1477 reviews)
★★★
(108 reviews)
★★★
(473 reviews)

(115 reviews)

(401 reviews)
★★
(3,113 reviews)
CNET 4.5 / 5 5 / 5 5 / 5 4 / 5 4.5 / 5
PC Mag 4 / 5 4 / 5 4.5 / 5 4.5 / 5 4 / 5

But the true test of support quality is to experience it yourself, and that’s where free trials come in. Pretty much every web host has some sort of money-back guarantee on their shared hosting plans, which means you can set up your website and see what you think of the service with relatively low stakes — just your time and any add-on fees you opt into, like paying for domain registration. We recommend going to town with customer support during that trial period. Get on live chat, open tickets, hop on the phone as much as possible to see if you like what you’re being served up.

Try not to worry about uptime too much

Beyond customer service, the most common complaint you’ll read from customer reviews is about uptime – or rather, lack thereof. Uptime is vital to your business: in 2013, Amazon.com famously went offline for 40 minutes and lost $4.8 million.

Every single web host in the world strives to have 100 percent server uptime, but there’s unfortunately no industry standard to evaluate how well they do. Lots of web hosting review sites do personal tests to try and gauge server performance, including WhoIsHostingThis and Web Hosting Facts, but since these tests only look at one site at a time, and often for short amounts of time, they are best used as indications, not gospel.

To try to avoid the “just trust us” promise of near-perfect uptime, most hosts provide some sort of guarantee of at least 99.9 percent uptime. However, that guarantee isn’t much of a guarantee. It just means your bill can be discounted in the event of any unplanned downtime. There’s a lot of fine print on these guarantees, too, including not accepting self-reported or third-party uptime data, and not providing refunds for downtime that was out of the host’s control (for example, a hurricane).

SiteGround displays its monthly uptime stats on its website
SiteGround posts each month’s uptime right on its website.

Pay attention to migration, especially if your website already exists

Frustrating support and downtime — particularly when they’re combined — are the most common reasons to abandon one host and join another.

It’s always possible (and free) to migrate your existing site manually to a new web host (another reason those knowledge bases are so critical). But it gets more challenging the bigger and more complicated your site is, which is why web hosts often provide some sort of “managed” migration to ensure it’s done right.

Look for room to grow long-term

A typical upgrade pattern for a new website is to start with shared hosting, max that out, and then jump to VPS, cloud, or dedicated. WordPress websites might take a pit stop in Managed WordPress hosting for awhile, too — which, depending on the host, could be on a VPS server (like Bluehost) or cloud server (like DreamHost and HostGator).

It’s time to upgrade when your site’s size and traffic over-burden your current plan. Sometimes, the host will let you know it’s time to upgrade — that will happen if you’re, say, overwhelming a server and making everyone else’s sites on that server slow down. Another reason to upgrade is if you’re ready for more functionality, customizability, and autonomy: upgrading usually gets you access to a more robust toolkit.

Not sure what all the different types of web hosting are? Here’s a breakdown:

An easy analogy is homes – GoDaddy has a nice little illustration of this. Shared hosting is like an apartment complex. One big building (the server) hosts lots of different residents (websites), who share the building’s resources (storage, bandwidth, often an IP address). This is an excellent solution for a lot of small and midsize websites, but the downside is if someone on the server hogs too much of the resources, it impacts everyone – imagine sharing the basement laundry with another resident who wants to wash all their sheets and towels and clothes every day. Web hosts offer a range of shared hosting plans. The higher the tier, the “nicer” the apartment building: fewer residents, more washing machines.

A virtual private server (VPS) is more comparable to a townhouse — you’re still sharing a building with other residents, but far fewer than in a shared hosting apartment building. Plus you get more flexibility and control over your space. That’s because the server makes virtual copies of itself, and each resident gets its own copy: you get your own IP address, private access, your own washing machine.

Dedicated hosting is like a house and there’s only one resident: your website. A dedicated server is designed to accommodate huge traffic — you can do all the laundry you want! — and requires a fair amount of upkeep that you or your webmaster is on the hook for. That lawn isn’t going to mow itself.

Not every web hosting service offers cloud hosting — it’s the newest form — but think of it as owning multiple residences. If there’s a problem at one of your servers, your website will instantly go stay at one of the others. In theory, your website will never go offline.

Lastly: WordPress hosting. WordPress is the most common CMS available. As such, most web hosting providers offer managed WordPress hosting, where the plan is designed with WordPress as its primary consideration: WordPress comes pre-installed, WordPress core updates are automatically applied, your server’s security might be more specifically tailored to what WordPress prefers.

This isn’t to say other hosting plans aren’t good for WordPress. They are all designed to be seamlessly compatible. But think of managed WordPress hosting like a yard service: it’s going to water your lawn and trim the hedges automatically.

Always pay for domain privacy

If you’re creating a new website, you’ll need to register a domain. Many web hosts allow you to register with them (sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee) even though it’s not required — you can register a domain with Namecheap or NameSilo and still be hosted by SiteGround or InMotion. In fact, we recommend it!

When you’re purchasing that domain, always opt into domain privacy, which means proxy contact information from the domain administrator will be submitted to the WHOIS registry. If you don’t opt in, you will be spammed. A lot. Domain privacy usually runs $1–2/month, although the best domain registrars offer it free of charge.

Example of WHOIS contact information before and after Bluehost domain privacy

Always, always, always get domain privacy. Or you’ll be sharing lots of personal info.

Other web hosting specs to look for

Backups: It’s best practice to manually backup all your files and databases and store them on separate machines — we consider it one of the top 4 content areas you should worry about. But lots of web hosts advertise complementary backups to act as a kind of auto-save in case you corrupt a file, delete something vital, or otherwise break your website.

SSD storage: Solid State Drive technology is notably faster than regular “spinning” hard drives, which in turn means content is delivered to your website and your website’s visitors faster. It’s pretty common among well-known web hosts to include SSD storage in even lower-tier shared hosting plans.

SSL certificates: Certificates for Secure Sockets Layer encryption (SSL) are like internet passports that confirm your website is secure enough for your visitors to submit sensitive data, like credit card information and passwords. It’s considered best practice to have SSL certification — in fact, Google considers it as a factor in how your site will show up in search rankings.

Most web hosts include basic SSL certificates for free in their shared hosting plans. That basic SSL certificate should be enough for most websites. More advanced encryption is needed if your website is also connected with a physical presence, like a brick and mortar store. Those suped-up SSL certificates are available for purchase through all web hosts.

SSH access: Secure Shell access means you have a secure channel straight into your account to manage files and databases. It’s a feature that’s critical if you’re have a web developer or technically-inclined site administrator who wants to manage and troubleshoot everything themselves.

Email hosting: If your web host includes email hosting, it means you’ll have access to a customized email address and room to store your emails. Lots of web hosts offer this, often for free.

It’s worth keeping in mind that email isn’t stored in a separate place — it all pulls from the same server space as the rest of your site, which means it will impact how much room is “left over” for you to use. If that doesn’t sound ideal — maybe your website is already pretty weighty — your web host isn’t your only option for getting a custom email address. GSuite (aka GMail for businesses) and services like Hover also provide email, and often it’s a more robust, more intuitive solution, like what you’re used to with your personal email. Lots of small business owners prefer keeping their email and websites on separate hosts: if your web host is also your email host and it goes offline, you’ll be without access to email. Quelle horreur.

Recap: The Best Web Hosting Services

Best Shared Hosting for Small Businesses

Best Web Hosts for WordPress

Best Free Web Hosting and Website Builders

Update notes

  • Last updated January 22, 2019 – We’ve updated this page with the most recent pricing information and added charts to illustrate user reviews and renewal price hikes.
  • First published October 29, 2018

Jupiter Networks invests $2.5M in enterprise tech accelerator Alchemist

Alchemist, which began as an experiment to better promote enterprise entrepreneurs, has morphed into a well-established Silicon Valley accelerator.

To prove it, San Francisco-based Alchemist is announcing a fresh $2.5 million investment ahead of its 20th demo day on Wednesday. Jupiter Networks, a networking and cybersecurity solutions business, has led the round, with participation from Siemens’ venture capital unit Next47.

Launched in 2012 by former Draper Fisher Jurvetson investor Ravi Belani, Alchemist provides participating teams with six months of mentorship and a $36,000 investment. Alchemist admits companies whose revenue stream comes from enterprises, not consumers, with a bent toward technical founders.

According to numbers provided by the accelerator, dubbed the “Y Combinator of Enterprise,” 115 Alchemist portfolio companies have gone on to raise $556 million across several VC deals. Another 25 have been acquired, including S4 Capital’s recent $150 million acquisition of media consultancy MightyHive, Alchemist’s largest exit to date.

Other notable alums include Rigetti Computing, LaunchDarkly, which helps startups soft-launch features and drone startup Matternet.

Alchemist has previously raised venture capital funding, including a $2 million financing in 2017 led by GE and an undisclosed investment from Salesforce.

Nineteen companies will demo products onstage tomorrow. You can live stream Alchemist’s 20th demo day here.

Varsity Tutors acquires Veritas Prep to expand into live online classes

Varsity Tutors, the online learning platform that launched in 2007, has today announced the acquisition of Veritas Prep.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but, according to the press release, the Veritas Prep team will remain at its Calabasas, CA office and that the product will continue on as a separate brand.

Veritas Prep launched in 2002 with a suite of test prep courses. Over the years, Veritas built out its online live classes as well as a business around admissions consulting. As Varsity Tutors focuses on geographical and product expansion, the Veritas Prep acquisition allows the company to get into live online courses (alongside one-to-one tutoring).

“Over the course of its 17 years, Veritas has built up a lot of expertise in how to deliver exceptional live online classes,” said Varsity Tutors founder and CEO Chuck Cohn. “We looked at a lot of companies out there, and we saw huge potential to really accelerate our own product development cycle by buying that expertise.”

Varsity Tutors originally launched with a platform that connected students with tutors for IRL study sessions and lessons. Over time, that product has transformed to offer fully on-demand digital lessons with tutors via live video chat, complete with whiteboard functionality, doc editing and other tools. Students can also access free online content (sans instructor) through Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools.

Cohn says that the Live Learning platform can connect a student with a tutor and begin a session in as few as 20 seconds, and that more than 75 percent of new customers are opting for online/mobile tutoring instead of in-person.

Beyond expanding the product, Varsity Tutors is also looking to expand the number of subjects it offers to customers. Right now, the company offers more than 1000 different subjects (including traditional learning) with more than 250 subjects available for instant tutoring on the Live Learning platform.

Varsity Tutors has raised a total of $107 million from investors like Learn Capital, CZI, and TCV. This marks the company’s second acquisition, with Varsity Tutors buying First Tutors in the UK in 2018 to kickstart geographic expansion.

The 600-employee company has more than 40,000 tutors on the platform and has provided more than 4 million hours of live one-on-one instruction/tutoring since launch.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article said that Varsity Tutors launched in 2011. The article has been updated for accuracy.

Mooncard raises $5.7 million for its expense platform

French startup Mooncard raised a $5.7 million funding round (€5 million) from Raise Ventures, Aglaé Ventures and business angels. The company provides a service to track and manage your company’s expenses with the help of good old plastic cards.

Corporate credit cards aren’t as widespread in France as in the U.S. and other countries. That’s why fintech startups have been trying to find a way to streamline expenses for French startups.

Mooncard lets you get as many cards as you want for your team. Managers can set different kinds of rules with different limits and validation processes.

Every time you pay with your card, you get a text message with a link. When you tap on the link, you can take a photo of the receipt, add details and submit your expense. Your accounting team can see expenses in real time and share reports with accountants.

Behind the scenes, companies create a specific account for expenses and top up that account. Mooncard works with Wirecard for the banking integration.

So far, 1,000 companies are using Mooncard, such as Air France, Vinci, Virtuo, Ledger and others. Companies pay between €13 and €15 per user per month, and Mooncard plans to have 200,000 users within three years.

To rebuild satellite communications, Ubiquitilink starts at ground level

Communications satellites are multiplying year by year as more companies vie to create an orbital network that brings high-speed internet to the globe. Ubiquitilink, a new company headed by Nanoracks co-founder Charles Miller, is taking a different tack: reinventing the Earthbound side of the technology stack.

Miller’s intuition, backed by approval and funding from a number of investors and communications giants, is that people are competing to solve the wrong problem in the comsat world. Driving down the cost of satellites isn’t going to create the revolution they hope. Instead, he thinks the way forward lies in completely rebuilding the “user terminal,” usually a ground station or large antenna.

“If you’re focused on bridging the digital divide, say you have to build a thousand satellites and a hundred million user terminals,” he said, “which should you optimize for cost?”

Of course dropping the price of satellites has plenty of benefits on its own, but he does have a point. What happens when a satellite network is in place to cover most of the planet but the only devices that can access it cost thousands of dollars or have to be in proximity to some subsidized high-tech hub?

There are billions of phones on the planet, he points out, yet only 10 percent of the world has anything like a mobile connection. Serving the hundreds of millions who at any given moment have no signal, he suggests, is a no-brainer. And you’re not going to do it by adding more towers; if that was a valid business proposition, telecoms would have done it years ago.

Instead, Miller’s plan is to outfit phones with a new hardware-software stack that will offer a baseline level of communication whenever a phone would otherwise lapse into “no service.” And he claims it’ll be possible for less than $5 per person.

He was coy about the exact nature of this tech, but I didn’t get the sense that it’s vaporware or anything like that. Miller and his team are seasoned space and telecoms people, and of course you don’t generally launch a satellite to test vaporware.

But Ubiquitilink does have a bird in the air, with testing of their tech set to start next month and two more launches planned. The stack already been proven on the ground, Miller said, and has garnered serious interest.

“We’ve been in stealth for several years and have signed up 22 partners — 20 are multi-billion dollar companies,” he said, adding that the latter are mainly communications companies, though he declined to name them. The company has also gotten regulatory clearance to test in five countries, including the US.

Miller self-funded the company at the outset, but soon raised a pre-seed round led by Blazar Ventures (and indirectly, telecoms infrastructure standby Neustar). Unshackled led the seed round, along with RRE Ventures, Rise of the Rest, and One Way Ventures. All told the company is working with a total $6.5 million, which it will use to finance its launches and tests; once they’ve taken place it will be safer to dispel a bit of the mystery around the tech.

“UbiquitiLink represents one of the largest opportunities in telecommunications,” Unshackled founding partner Manan Mehta said, calling the company’s team “maniacally focused.”

I’m more than a little interested to find out more about this stealth attempt, three years in the making so far, to rebuild satellite communications from the ground up. Some skepticism is warranted, but the pedigree here is difficult to doubt; we’ll know more once orbital testing commences in the next few months.

Startup Community to Local Corporations—Hey, I’m Over Here!

By Chris Heivly, Entrepreneur in Residence at Techstars

Great startup communities have meaningful connections from every actor in the ecosystem. Corporations are one of those critical actors. Why? It’s actually simpler than you think. There is something in it for everyone. The perfect win-win.

For an effective win-win, you must have two motivated parties each of whom get obvious value from the connection.

The problem with the corporation–startup community connection, or lack thereof, is that the value for each actor is many times not obvious.

I liken this relationship to the idea of two old college roommates who haven’t spoken for 10 years. We like each other but we have no idea what is going on in each other’s lives. In the void of information, I just don’t care as much.

But once we reconnect, our motivation to support each other seems to accelerate and all of those little nuggets of each other’s lives feel important again.

For mid to large size corporations, the two most common challenges to maintaining or growing their business are:

  1. Staying innovative, and
  2. Talent recruitment.

For startups, the challenges are simple:

  1. Stay alive,
  2. Introduce and validate their product idea, and
  3. Find real customers.

Unless you are Apple, Amazon, or Google (and a few others), corporations struggle to say current. Every corporation I am engaged with has doubts as to how innovative they are and have some level of fear that a new company will come along and take their customers. In addition, finding and recruiting new talent to address their innovation needs is next to impossible.

But they have customers, deep industry and product knowledge, and money.

Unless you are one of the very few startups that have raised more than enough capital to meet your long-term needs, you wake up every single day worried about whether you can find a customer to use your product.

Can you see the basis for a healthy relationship? There are so many win-win connect points and opportunities if each actor just tries a little harder.

I will go out on a limb and say to my corporate friends that the onus falls a little more on you than the startup. You are the pretty girl/boy at the high school dance. Can you make it a little easier for us dorky startups over on the wall?

How do you do this? It’s really quite simple. Show up. Every reasonably-sized startup community has formal and informal networking events. Show up. Share who you are and what you care about. The rest will quickly take care of itself.

***

Looking for another way to connect? Both corporations and startups benefit from Techstars corporate partner accelerators:

  • Corporations, learn how Techstars can connect you with the most promising startups to future-proof your business;
  • Startups, apply now to Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator programs.

 

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How to Maximize Your Efficiency Working From Home

Working from home is empowering. It allows you to wake up on your own time, avoid a commute and escape social pressures that might exist in the office.

Working from home also provides challenges, though.  You might not be accustomed to working productively in that space. You are on your own more often. And you may get distracted from your family or pets.

That being said, it is very feasible to be productive from home. You just have to be thoughtful about your approach.

Here are some actionable tips to maximize your efficiency working from home as a freelancer.

Work around your most productive hours.

One of the best parts of being at home is the ability to work the hours that you would like. Most people tend to work normal hours in the office. Plus, sometimes people signal commitment to bosses by coming in early or staying late.

At home, though, you can wake up at whatever time you want. Barring outside circumstances, you can also work until whenever you want. Therefore, work around the times that you will be most productive.

This also means giving yourself the necessary time in the morning to get your mind warmed up. Since work is so close to your bedroom, you may feel the pressure to work as soon as you wake up. Instead, give yourself the time you need to get into the right headspace. If that means doing some exercise and having a nice breakfast, then so be it.

Wear what you can be productive in.

If wearing pajamas makes you sleepy, no matter how comfortable they are, do not wear them! Some people cherish the opportunity to dress casually and doing so makes them comfortable while doing work. Others can feel unproductive doing so.

Find your spot.

It is tempting to lay back on your couch, grab a computer and get to work. It might be the most comfortable route, but it is most likely not the most productive. The first step is finding where in your house you will be in a good headspace to work. It is the physical space that will help you excel.

If you do not know what spot is going to be best for you, try a few different ones and see where you feel the best and most productive.

Eliminate distractions.

You are removed from the distraction of your coworkers at home. Yet, there are plenty of different distractions. Your pets or family might be around. Plus, with nobody around you that is also working, it is more tempting to spend time on Facebook or Netflix.

You need to find ways to mute these distractions while you are working at home. Different strategies work for everyone. For some, the most effective route is to block certain sites on your computer.

For others, it is working in 20-30 minute spurts with 5-minute breaks. When there are people home, it is valuable to let them know that you are working. No matter what you need to do to focus, put yourself in a situation where you can succeed and avoid distraction.

Set goals for the day.

Figure out what you want to accomplish when you first sit down (or the day before). Therefore, you will be working towards tangible goals throughout the day. This can put you back on track when you are not being as productive. It will also force you to work quicker and more efficiently.

Take advantage of what your home offers.

The office is a great space and offers things like food, social outlets and space. While you might not match those in your house in the same way, your home has other positive outlets. Take advantage of them.

You may feel most at ease when you are sitting on your couch, for example. If that is the case, then eat lunch on your couch and relax. We feel a level of comfortability in our home that does not exist in the office. We should take advantage of this comfort and do what makes us happy!

Create social interaction when you need it.

You are surrounded by others all day in the office. If that is something that keeps you energized, then find ways to stay social while at home. That does not mean going on Facebook, but it could be calling people during the breaks you take. Or videoing into the office to ask for help on different projects.

Remember how awesome it is that you can be working from home.

You did not have to make the commute to work. You also get to work within your own space and comfort levels. Be grateful for the fact that you are home. Remembering this can boost productivity and give you a greater appreciation for your company and the opportunity.


Originally published here, by John Rampton.

The post How to Maximize Your Efficiency Working From Home appeared first on KillerStartups.