Stephen Mitchell graduated from Chester with a BSc (Hons) in Multimedia Technologies in 2006. Stephen landed his first job, a graduate role for a major hosting company in Manchester, after visiting a Graduate jobs fair. After a number of years and promotions in the company, he decided to utilise his technical knowledge and business acumen and start up his own brokerage.
Tell us about your role/business, and where the idea came from?
Root Provider is a hosting consultancy and brokerage, so we advise and ultimately pair you with the right provider, using our Best Value Route™. The idea came to me during my years over at my last job, where two main points sprung to mind, repeatedly – that the hosting market is fairly closed, as not many reputable providers reveal their prices online (so hard to compare), and although a niche, my research pointed to no-one existing that could provide comparison services. The first point has changed somewhat through the growth of “Mass Cloud” services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, as they make nearly everything transparent. What that also does is focus away from service/that personal touch, so my services bridge that gap.
The name comes from Root being the highest level of access to most types of computers, also being a play on words for route/path. Provider coming from Internet Service Provider and the fact that I am providing a route – hopefully it works!
Ok, for the benefit of readers like us who aren’t familiar with hosting… How does it work?
Great question! I like to compare it to running a shop. You generally need the following basics to trade: A shop/building, staff to perform duties, such as ‘front of house’ to talk to customers, and a back of house/stock room team who takes the requests on what stock to bring to front of house, then a manager who runs the shop, managing the requests between front and back, and deciding how the shop should look. Of course, you also need stock.
Likewise in hosting you need a place for your website to live (computer, server, Cloud etc), programs to perform duties, a web service to talk to website visitors / translate what the Code wants the website to look like, Code to control how the other services interact, and a Database engine that takes requests on what information to bring to the web service. The ‘stock’ is either an actual product or a news article, for example.
The hosting is the shop/building. It houses the services that perform the duties needed and will dictate how efficient they are, given the room they have in the shop. It has an address to let people know where it is (like hosting has an IP address/URL) and the size will determine how many “staff” can fit in it.
So a shop selling pies to 10 people a day would need a different size and setup of shop to, say, a website serving 10,000 people a day, to merge the example with what I do – and it’s free to the customer!
Free? Really?! How does that work?
Yes, all of the advice and comparison services I provide are FREE to customers – I do business with the hosting providers to secure the best deal.
How did you get to the point you are at today?
After leaving my last role, I wanted to give running my own business a try, especially given the contacts formed within the industry. Using those contacts, I started building my partner network up until Christmas 2016, and landed a few deals in between now and then.
Since my degree involved a heavy amount of web development, I was able to build my own IT infrastructure out, resulting in the website seen today – www.rootprovider.co.uk . I already have International partners on board, which is fantastic for me so early on in the business.
What does a typical day entail for you?
Something I love about my work is how varied it can be, with each day providing a different challenge. Since my services cover everything from simple web advice to designing complex platforms, can spend a day researching a particular technology, or talking someone through cloud strategy. It nearly always involves some form of research/comparison (using an engine I built to collect data) with coordination between clients and suppliers.
What are your plans for development/the future?
This year the focus is on getting my message out – free hosting help.
Naturally through enquiries, new partnerships will form and have already been approached by other businesses to consult on how best they should set up their own ventures. Website wise, I want to incorporate a more dynamic version of the site, including the ability to login and manage stored quotes, guides and information, turning the site from essentially a brochure, into a broker!
Find out more about courses in the Department of Computer Science at University of Chester.