- 5 min read
Rocket.net Celebrates Our Third Incredible Year!
Today marks three years since our public launch of Rocket.net. I can honestly say that in my twenty year career this has been the most amazing journey yet.
Beyond what the spreadsheets say as we blew past $3.1mm ARR in Q2, I’m most proud about the values we collectively stand for as a company.
Not only does our platform power some of the largest WordPress sites on the internet, even more important is that we’ve built such an amazing culture inside and out of Rocket.net with integrity.
With that said, I’d like to look back at our three year journey to celebrate our success with the hopes of helping other entrepreneurs as they embark on their own adventures, but also want to sincerely thank all of our customers and my team for making this such a rewarding personal experience that has hopefully made a positive difference in many peoples lives.
Humble beginnings with a vision: A recap on how Rocket.net started
In 2020, as we all know the world was an interesting place. Outside of Covid-19, I had just spent the last few years at Stackpath launching the world’s first fungible compute platform at the edge for VM’s and containers, all while getting my PhD in CDN and WAF.
I saw a massive gap in the market as we had a large churn issue with our WordPress users. WordPress website owners were coming to our CDN services in hopes of better performance, but not totally understanding how to configure it. This was all before the dawn of core web vitals and all that stuff – People simply didn’t know what to do, if we’re being honest. It was no easy task back then.
2020: The WordPress hosting industry had zero interest in ‘the edge’
Initially, I tried reaching out to some large players in the WordPress space and there was no desire whatsoever to integrate with the edge (funny enough they copy us today). Instead, they were all happy with Google Cloud and thought it was good enough.
It was at this moment that I decided to venture out on my own to change the WordPress world forever.
So, in February, 2020 I decided to officially take the leap and hit the ground running. I officially started “project Rocket” on February 4, 2020 when I was able to secure the domain “onRocket.com”. I figured “hey, all the startups are doing it this way, let’s see if we can get some traction”.
Valuable lessons learned while bootstrapping a hosting company. It wasn’t easy!
Development officially started in March, 2020 and the MVP was launched quietly in May, 2020. From development to first customer was about 72 days and $26,000. The old saying “if you’re not embarrassed of your first version you waited too long” couldn’t have been more accurate for Rocket.
It was May 13, 2020 and we got our first customer, J2 Global. Shoutout to Nick Nelson and team for really believing in the platform. After about four weeks of perfecting the platform and a few more quick wins from friends and family, I decided it was time to announce it to the world.
June 30, 2020: The day my life would change forever- Rocket was officially announced and open to the public.
Initial growth and traction was very tough. I was no stranger to this industry having launched successful hosting companies in the past, so I knew it was going to take a lot of work to earn trust.
We started by doing outreach to invite users to test the platform and this worked a little bit. We had a few folks test, lots of ignores, and lots of skepticism. I mean let’s face it, we built something that didn’t exist anywhere else.
Rocket.net: The hunt for a new domain, logo and identity
One day, I decided to sponsor the Palm Beach Tech Association (now known as South Florida Tech Hub) and they gave us a profile page and our logo as ROCKET. It immediately occurred to me, if I was in this to win it, onRocket.com had to go… so I started the hunt for a domain.
I reached out to a domain broker and said “I need Rocket.com”… he laughed and I said “no I’m serious”. We couldn’t get any calls returned on the .com so he said “What about the .net?”… I thought about it and said “you know that could definitely work.”.
At the time, we were at about $14k ARR, and let’s just say that Rocket.net was not a cheap domain name. It was a huge gamble at the time, but it was one of the best bets I’ve ever made.
After rebranding to Rocket.net, things really started to pick up with some big influencer wins in early 2022. In one month we more than 10x the size of the business and got beyond the first 100 customers. This is crucial because this was now 100+ people talking about Rocket.net.Ben Gabler, CEO
Rocket API: Agency, Reseller and Enterprise WordPress hosting
As we continued through 2022, things really took off and I was able to start expanding the team. As I started to hire and train some crucial roles, I heavily invested in our portal to rewrite everything in React as well as completely rewrite the API into a new micro-service, paving the way for the growth to come.
Having a modern architecture powering Rocket allowed us to eventually launch innovative products like white-labeled WordPress reseller hosting in a brand new way that agencies were very interested in.
By taking a modern approach with our portal and API, we were able to do things no one had ever seen before in this industry.
Did you know with just a few lines of code you can fully embed and customize our control panel anywhere in the world?! If you really want to, you can completely recreate our entire control panel by using our API... it’s been done and is in the wild today!
Now hosting hundreds of high profile websites with tons of traffic, our customers needed even more horsepower, so we officially launched our Enterprise WordPress hosting product line in June 2022 which BTW is our fastest growing solution at Rocket today.
Rocket.net continued to launch a flurry of new innovative features that nobody else has to meet the modern demands of our customers.
- Smart Caching
- WordPress Activity Logging
- Access Logs
- Enhanced Backup Restores
- Site User Roles
- Edge Analytics
- Private Cloud
- WHMCS Module for Resellers
- Intelligent Edge
Why Rocket.net shares revenue results publicly
Forget cash flow positive… one of the most difficult things of starting a business is getting to break even. I constantly see new companies launch and just build so much tech before they ever validate the actual end-result/brand to the market that usually results in disaster.
To this day, Rocket.net spends wisely with the idea of always operating as a bootstrapped company.
As a bootstrapped company, we don’t have any investors, Rocket.net runs an intelligent cash-flow positive ship with a low burn rate.
Our three pillars of success continues to fuel the formula that’s worked for us since 2020 and allowed us to reach cash flow positive in the first 18 months.
- strive to always be the best product on the market
- obsessive customer support
- best place to work
Behind the scenes on our growth… or build in public?
There’s always a debate on whether or not you should publicly share your revenue. For me, I share our revenue to not only help build confidence with our customers and team, but also to help inspire others on their journey.
At Rocket.net, we do not run any PPC or direct marketing campaigns, nor do we run any outbound sales campaigns at this time. Instead, we focus our efforts on community involvement (WordCamp, Cloudfest), content creation, and ultimately customer success.
Our growth has been heavily driven by word of mouth, organic search, and our affiliate program, with the absolute strongest pipeline being word of mouth.
Today, Rocket.net is doing an impressive $3.1mm in Annualized Recurring Revenue and is continuing to grow with record setting quarters. However, you won’t find any lambo’s parked here! We continue to reinvest our capital in the platform and our people to ensure maximum customer success.
The incredible and passionate team behind Rocket.net
Growth and success aren’t just about revenue. Earlier I mentioned the importance of scaling yourself…
In order to successfully grow this business, we needed a world-class team. You see, our success is not just based on speed and security for WordPress, but ultimately the support that we provide our customers with for WordPress.
Today, we have a team of nineteen, with years and years of hosting/WordPress experience across various parts of the world.
Thanks to our modern API first and large amounts of internal tooling, our support team is able to effectively provide our customers with response times in seconds and solutions within minutes beyond that.
Outside of our incredible CSAT scores, we’ve been able to achieve a 5 star rating on Trustpilot over the last three years:
Over the last three years, Rocket.net has helped cover expenses for birth, moves, health, and many more critical things in the lives of our team and their families. We truly are one big family here at Rocket.net and nothing has ever given me as much joy in life as watching this company take care of others.
We all show up every day to give it 110% for our peers and customers and every single day we do it with a gigantic smile on our face.
Did I mention that we’re hiring? Head on over to our careers page and reach out if you would like to join an amazing team of people that share a common passion for customer success.
Some quick lessons learned along the way
As I stated earlier, a big part of this post is to help other entrepreneurs on their journey. Starting a new company can be extremely scary and stressful, but you’re not alone!
I definitely made my fair share of mistakes along the way with Rocket.net and I wanted to quickly outline them to help anyone else that may be in the same boat. Below, I’ve summarized some of what I learned along the way based on real-life mistakes.
Patience. The biggest challenge for me was going from a big company with tons of peers to a company of two. It was a much slower pace, not a lot of customers, and basically just starting from scratch. You absolutely have to be patient and allow the market to accept your brand and product. It takes time, but just be patient.
Discipline. It’s extremely important to stay disciplined. As a founder, you are responsible for finances, morale, customer service, and ultimately the stability of everything around you. Maintaining financial and mental stability is vital to success.
Trust. One of the most important things about building a business is scaling yourself. In the beginning I constantly heard “Ben this has been amazing, but you can only do so much… what happens when you get really big?”. Being as I’ve done this before, I had a plan from day one – hire the best of the best, starting with someone that has training experience. I had been on the frontline of support since day one and still to this day continue to help with support every day, so I was able to really help train and lead by example with how we help customers at Rocket.net.
What’s next for Rocket.net?
As you may or may not know, I always say “we’re just getting started” and it’s because I live in a world filled with constant innovation. We’re always pushing the envelope with our platform and are continuing to step the game up with new features and products.
One of our most recent announcements was our Intelligent Edge which is going to change the game forever by leveraging every CDN provider on the planet. Not only creating failover options in case of an outage, but fine tuning the best possible route for website visitors even if on multiple providers, down to the city.
Throughout the rest of the year you will also see various improvements on our platform covering some of the following features:
- Managed DNS
- Site Cloning
- Site Templates
- SMTP Transactional Emails
- Object Cache Pro automation
There’s so much more in the product pipeline I can’t talk about quite yet, but stay tuned as we’ve just begun this journey!
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