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Collin Slattery founded Taikun Hosting in 2009 with limited personal funds as a result of his poor experiences with other hosting providers. The lack of customer service and the impersonal feeling he got when dealing with them was something he knew other people experienced.
Taikun Hosting was founded with just one goal. They want to provide the best service to each and every one of their clients.
MO: How long did it take from first having the idea of starting a hosting company to actually getting it up and running? What inspired the name Taikun?
Collin: It took me about two weeks. I am a firm believer in diving in head first and figuring things out as I go along. There are so many tools available if you know how to look for them, so once I found everything I needed, it was easy to get it up and running. Taikun is the Japanese root word for the English word tycoon. I have always been fascinated with Japanese history and culture, and I spent a great deal of time studying the Zaibatsu of the Meiji era. I wanted to give a subtle nod to the my Japanese inspiration, yet still keep it familiar to people without a deep understanding of East Asian history.
MO: You’re only 22, what were you doing before you started Taikun?
Collin: What wasn’t I doing before starting Taikun Inc.? <laughter> I was doing a lot of day trading and online poker. I started trading stocks when I was 10, and it was always something I enjoyed; however, day trading requires a level of emotional detachment I wasn’t able to maintain. It probably also didn’t help that I was day trading during the most volatile financial market in history. A lot of people probably think that online poker is fun, but it is actually quite a grind. It basically comes down to probabilities and running the numbers over and over for hours at a time. I wasn’t enjoying myself, so I decided to get back to my entrepreneurial roots.
MO: You started your first business when you were just 10 years old. What was it and how did that first taste of entrepreneurism inspire you to continue pursuing other business ventures?
Collin: I sold candy. Other kids sold candy, but when other kids were selling candy at $1.00, I sold mine at $0.50. My margins were tighter, but I more than made up for that with volume, and I basically pushed my competitors out of business. I loved making money, controlling my own fate, and using my intelligence to outsmart competitors. In high school, I arbitraged Magic: The Gathering cards. I would trade for cards that other people undervalued, and I would either continue to grow the value of my card portfolio or sell cards on eBay when I wanted to pull some cash out. I traveled around the Northeast to major tournaments to play and trade. I loved the art of the deal, anticipating pricing fluctuations, changes in demand, and more. Getting to increase the value in my portfolio or make upwards of $1,000 in a weekend was very nice too! Being in control of your own destiny is an amazing feeling, and the successes and failures are yours and yours alone.
MO: What makes you better or different than the other hosting companies out there?
Collin: Customer service. Most hosting companies treat you as a number. If you want to chat with tech support, you’re chatting with someone in an offshore call center. If you have a question about your billing, they can help you, but if you are confused about how to do something or set something up, you’re completely out of luck. For people without technology backgrounds, setting up a website is incredibly confusing. Even for a person like me with extensive programming experience, the first time I setup a website it took me hours of research to figure out what I was doing. I will personally help clients with things like setting up an e-mail address, changing their nameservers, installing a CMS like WordPress, and other things that would be hard for them, but are no problem for me.
I’ll give an example. A woman wanted to make a website for her business. She signed up for hosting with us, but she had absolutely no idea how to setup a website, so I setup WordPress and an e-mail address for her. She had no idea how to use WordPress, so I told her that she could stop by my office, and I would show her how to use WordPress, populate her website, and make basic changes. My four favorite words as a consumer are “No problem, Mr. Slattery” and that is the kind of service that we provide to our clients.
MO: When was the first time you felt like success was tangible for Taikun?
Collin: When we added a new server. In the very beginning when I had a handful of clients, it felt like more of a hobby than a business. When the company got to the point that we needed to get a new server to handle more clients, I knew that the business had a real future. I had done lots of entrepreneurial stuff before in my life, but this was the first time where it was an incorporated business, and it was something with the potential to grow into something big. It is a truly amazing feeling to create and grow a business.
MO: Do you think that Taikun is the last business you’ll launch or do you see more start-ups in your future?
Collin: I expect that I will start many new startups in the future. As it stands right now, I have dozens of ideas that I want to get off the ground. In the past, I used to be concerned that I would run out of ideas or that they weren’t very good, but I have seen 3 different ideas that I came up with turn into companies by other entrepreneurs, so I know that there many great ideas floating around in my head. I have also found that my limiting factor is not good ideas but time. Finding solutions to problems is one thing that I have always been gifted at doing, and being an entrepreneur is about finding solutions to problems. I have ideas for many things ranging from new medical devices, to a water distribution system that taps into existing infrastructure, and tons of things in between. I hope to someday have a big Taikun conglomerate structured like the Zaibatsu of the Meiji Era.
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