Roel Zylstra didn’t join the ranks of small business owners fresh out of school. Like many entrepreneurs before him, he hung out his own shingle when he saw an opportunity and when circumstances forced his hand.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but the wave that finally pushed me to start a business was the fact that I had been out of work for a year and a half,” Roel explains. “It was either sink or swim.”
Although he’d always had an interest in being his own boss, Roel didn’t leap into entrepreneurship right away. With a Masters education and several years of working experience in mechanical engineering, he didn’t find his footing as a successful entrepreneur until 2003. It was his lifelong curiosity about computers and interest in the early days of the Internet that drew him toward starting his first online businesses.
“Even though the industry had just basically crashed in ’01, I saw that tech was the next big thing. I like it. I like algorithms, I like programming. So, I just started throwing website ideas out there,” Roel says.
And like many business owners, his first few ideas didn’t immediately gain traction. After unsuccessful attempts like an online art shop where artists could sell their work and a financial information website, he came to a crucial realization: Marketing was the missing ingredient that would make an online business successful.
“Along the way, I understood that the common bracing point from all of these endeavors I was attempting was the marketing. No one would know about the websites, so they ultimately failed,” Roel says.
Early adoption: Joining GoDaddy’s Reseller Program
Marketing was how he’d ensure the success of his newest Internet venture—providing hosting and domain registration. After a little research, he enrolled in GoDaddy’s early Reseller Program as one of the first few hundred to join.
Roel says his decision to rely on GoDaddy was simple: he could offer his customers a robust suite of services on a reliable platform while keeping maintenance efforts low on his end. And it certainly helped that GoDaddy offered high-quality services at a great value.
“It was easy to convince somebody to change from a $35 domain registration to a $12 domain registration.”
“[And] I didn’t have to maintain the store part of it, I didn’t have to do support, I didn’t have to do billing, I didn’t have to do any of that. So, that was another thing that was off my plate and I could focus on just one aspect of the business: the marketing,” Roel said.
To make sure he got the word out about his business and the products he provided via GoDaddy, Roel taught himself early search engine optimization techniques—and he quickly found success.
“It took me probably half a year kind of digging and trying to figure out how Google’s algorithm worked and finding the tools needed to achieve mastery in that niche. So it took six months of learning and refining,” he explains. “Back in ’03, when you searched for ‘domain registration,’ the first result was Network Solutions. The second result was Register.com. The third result was my site.”
A booming business: How GoDaddy helps Roel succeed almost 20 years later
In almost two decades of being a reseller, Roel has steadily grown his business by helping other business owners take their first steps into entrepreneurship online. From the beginning, he’s offered his customers the entire suite of services from GoDaddy, including domain registration, hosting, email, business email, a DIY website builder, and more.
Since he first joined the reseller program in 2003, Roel hasn’t wavered as a member of the reseller program. He says that 100% of his customers now use products from the GoDaddy Reseller program. And although his company provides a wide range of products and services, his most popular by far is what he started with GoDaddy back in the early 2000s: domain registration.
“A domain name is the beginning point for starting an online business. If you’re gonna put something online, you need a domain name,” he says. “Basically, [I help with] the basics you need to get up and running with an online presence. That’s what I offer, that’s what GoDaddy offers as well.”
Roel says that his customers also love GoDaddy’s hosting and email services, as those are typically his second and third most in-demand services.
Moving forward with GoDaddy
With GoDaddy, Roel is confident his business will continue to grow and thrive.
Roel says GoDaddy’s Reseller Program makes it simple to maintain a steady stream of customers and offer high-quality products without requiring long hours of intense effort. Instead, he can simply focus on continuing to grow his business.
“It doesn’t take much now to continue keeping the business affordable,” he says. “[It did take an] initial push to get the business going. After that, it didn’t take much input. The return on my time invested is competitive with other endeavors of mine.”