Brad Mitchell is a gentleman and a scholar, a tech-savvy bodhisattva garbed in flamboyant threads as eye-catchingly colorful as his vibrant personality.
Always ready with a smile, the brilliant MojoHost guru greets tradeshow attendees with the fondness of an old friend dearly missed, his radiant charm a font of revelry and knowledge no matter the industry event or luminary-filled panel.
You can be the best at what you do, but if you can’t connect with someone on a personal level and establish mutual respect or care, you earn nothing of lasting value.
To stand near Mitchell is to be served with limitless laughter, free drinks and sagely advice, not to mention a bevy of scantily-clad ladies who flock to him like peahens descending on a finely-feathered peacock. Yet, he is as much a fierce tiger as he is a bird of exotic plumage, eager to pounce on B2B opportunities with a hunter’s finesse.
And for all his charisma, Mitchell also burns with the gravitas of a serious businessman. After all, achievements and failures alike have strengthened him with muscled tenacity, intimately acquainted as he is with the peaks and valleys of this fast-paced industry.
Now, bedecked in glittering yin and yang jewelry, Mitchell reps the insignia emblazoned on his popular MojoHost swag and company graphics. That orange and black rendition of so famed a Taoist symbol, of that whirlpool darkness and luminous beauty, of masculine and feminine forces aligned in elegant perfection, is not just a marketing ploy.
It is a way of life for Mitchell. And the mantra that hums with all the cosmic harmony of monks chanting in unison? “That’s Good Mojo.”
Thus, to align the professional chakras and meditate upon the virtues of hosting vices, XBIZ sat down in the lotus position with Mitchell, for this exclusive executive suite interview.
XBIZ: Tell us about your eclectic background prior to MojoHost, which included being a director of medical billing and phone sex marketing online.
Mitchell: While still in high school, I started working for a new family medical services business. This company was the first of its kind and today is the largest of its kind in North America. It provides senior citizens and home-bound individuals with full in-home physician care, diagnostics and laboratory services. I was trained by an amazing person and over the course of seven years I learned not only how to build a team, it prepared me for small business ownership and how to take a company from pre-revenue to over a hundred million in sales as a key employee.
In August 1999 life changed significantly. Between my marriage, a new home and quitting my day job when I realized that I would never be given equity in that family business, it was a time of a lot of rough lessons. I bought someone’s porn sites and got defrauded with stolen content, unoriginal designs and fraudulent recurring credit card billing. Adding insult to injury, I unwittingly chose a business partner who had a gambling problem and no technical expertise. I deleted everything, ended that ill-fated partnership and started fresh, but it wasn’t easy. I did anything necessary to pay the bills and mortgage. That included selling web designs, managing content leasing, running paysites, web hosting for friends and affiliate marketing of phone sex lines.
I was having a lot of success promoting niche fantasy sex lines and realized that nobody else was marketing phone sex online. By the time I attended my first conference in May of 2000, my business idea was to provide a proper online affiliate program for phone sex marketing. At that conference, I sought out a motivated phone bureau with talent, as well as billing and people to handle customer service. Later that year, SinTalk was born. Fortunately, I found an excellent friend and business partner and we grew the business together until I eventually sold the company to him. It was my first six-figure check and it felt great.
XBIZ: Describe the genesis of MojoHost, after that fateful handshake on April Fool’s Day in 2002 with Corey Baldwin. What critical lessons did you learn in those early years?
Mitchell: I was fortunate enough to meet Corey Baldwin early on in my career. He was a local affiliate of my phone sex program and we used to get together with other Michigan webmasters. I already had hosting customers but wasn’t offering it as a service. We considered that with his technical expertise and my salesmanship, we could give it a whirl. We agreed on equity shares and MojoHost came to be out of a friendship and a handshake that day. I shut down everything else and decided to focus fully on the new business with Corey. Everything from then on was an adventure.
There were so many critical lessons. I laugh about it now, but I used to have to drive over to Corey’s house and bang on his door when we had emergency tickets in the middle of the night. He’s an epic sleeper.
Years ago, we used to provide backups for all clients, even if they were not paying for it. We didn’t tell them and it came in handy many times, and the clients were very lucky we were doing this on their behalf. Eventually we had to change policy to paid backups due to scale and cost. If you’re reading this, I can’t stress enough how critically important backups are. Always have a backup. Have personal backups. There are countless scenarios that can result in total loss.
Hard drives fail, redundant drives fail, RAID controllers fail, good and bad software can delete things, hackers are not nice people and above all — humans make mistakes. The lesson? Be paranoid! We are vigilant and comprehensive, always treating client data carefully and educating customers.
I have learned that you never know the true potential future value of a new contact. The business value might be nothing, or it could be millions. I often see new salespeople “going in for the kill” and become disinterested or blow them off entirely when they discover there is no imminent value. I think this is a terrible approach. You can be the best at what you do, but if you can’t connect with someone on a personal level and establish mutual respect or care, you earn nothing of lasting value.
XBIZ: How is MojoHost uniquely equipped to deal with the ever-shifting challenges and opportunities that the adult entertainment market faces?
Mitchell: As the top hosting tech company in the adult industry, there’s just no such thing as standing still. You often hear people talk about “disruption” but in tech it seems like things move so fast something is being disrupted every day! I love tech, gadgets and I gobble up hosting tech like its vodka-soaked gummy bears! Its going to sound a bit contrived but the way we stay ahead is by always putting our clients first ... but let me finish … by putting them first, it always ensures that we are also on the forefront of technology to fulfill those ever-changing needs, which keeps us on top of our game and on top of all the new tech. There are many companies in adult who are launching new products, diversifying and above all, always looking to save money. Finding new ways of doing things is a great way of saving money, and we are always working harder to make things run better at a lower cost without sacrificing the quality our customers have come to expect.
XBIZ: Talk about the importance of MojoHost branding. Beyond your reputation for colorful fashion and gregariousness, how do you ensure MojoHost leaves a lasting impression of the very best kind?
Mitchell: The MojoHost brand is very important to me. I probably care more about our brand and what it means than anything else. Not because we have invested so much in free drinks and cool swag, but because I truly feel that doing good things sends positivity into the world.
Paying it forward, doing the right thing and treating others how you’d like to be treated is a core belief at MojoHost. When I buy someone a drink or dinner it’s a genuine gesture and there’s no quid-pro-quo there. It’s my pleasure. I want to talk, have fun, maybe have one too many. I love getting to know people, share a memorable experience and if we get to do business later, then that’s a bonus.
The mantra of “That’s Good Mojo” is at our core all the time and that’s a really great thing to be part of, but we take it seriously. When making business decisions, we actually consider the “good mojo” of it. I love being able to be proud to put the MojoHost, MojoCDN or even the new MojoCloud brand onto cool giveaways, and I love it when people send me pics of them using them or wearing the clothes.
I think leaving a good impression with people, whether they are clients or not, is being genuine and authentic. You don’t have to give away free stuff or buy anyone drinks to accomplish that, but it never hurts to do it anyway! It’s worked very well for me.
I earned most of my business “at the bar” during tradeshows in the early 2000s. There were dozens of web hosts actively soliciting business back then. The original “Good Mojo” came from being humble and modest. When MojoHost started, I had no special access, no VIP event invites and I wasn’t on the list for any fancy dinners. I was nobody. I would talk to everyone with the same interest and respect, often giving unrelated advice to webmasters from my own experience.
Creating connections for oneself is great, but helping to create connections for others was more powerful. To this day, I like to think I’m still the same person, except older with less hair. I always endeavor to be easily approachable and enjoy meeting everyone. That’s Good Mojo.
XBIZ: What is your approach to scalability, especially in light of your dedication to offering very personal and responsive customer service?
Mitchell: It’s a struggle to balance my desire to help people personally with letting the MojoHost team do their jobs. I work too much, and I know I work too much. The real problem is I love my work so much. I’ll get a call or a text from someone and I will (to a fault) handle things a lot more than I should. I’m thankful and lucky to have such great partners and such a great team and to be growing!
We have the new Amsterdam data center, a European company and a new support team in Europe too. I trust the team to knock things out of the park every day, but there’s always that part of me that just wants to get in and get my hands dirty, but we always get things done and as quickly as possible no matter if it’s a small client or a big client. Overall I think we are scaling the business well, but also scaling our clients better with the new MojoCloud offering.
XBIZ: Describe the modern hosting landscape, in a nutshell. What distinguishes the business in 2018 from, say, five years ago. How do you stay ahead?
Mitchell: It’s my experience that as the hosting market matures, the landscape of competition narrows. There are fewer large hosting companies as time goes on, and only hundreds of notably sized providers in the world. It is an incredibly complex business to succeed in, stay relevant and profit with. I believe it will continue to get exponentially harder.
MojoHost has stayed a leader by making smart, calculated choices about new technology. I am personally the technologist and buyer of all network and server hardware. Benchmark testing is how I nerd out. The ability to balance the love for new technology and shiny things with the actual client deliverable, speed and reliability, is key. Left to themselves, customers would naturally and mindlessly change hardware every year like getting a new iPhone.
The actual components of hosting are much the same as they were five years ago. Even if you have the newest technology, implementation and setting things up and managing them optimally is far more important, and more affordable. This is our strength.
We leverage the best in global networking, server hardware and technological support to deliver a complete product. Proper investments in infrastructure are equally important to having the right team on board, whether that’s using your own in-house team with our technology, or utilizing MojoHost’s support team.
XBIZ: On tradeshow panels, you are often one of the most tech-savvy individuals. How do you translate such sophisticated understanding of the digital landscape into easily marketed concepts?
Mitchell: Servers and technology are just tools to accomplish delivering a product. When you focus on the surfer’s experience all becomes clear. Does it load fast? Does it play well? A technical discussion of hosting is simply asking questions until there are no more left to be asked.
I do the same thing with my own team when trouble-shooting existing clients and developing proposals for new ones. Some buyers know what they need, others need our technical expertise to deliver a properly sized solution (with room for growth) at an everyday low price.
XBIZ: Which of your many products — which include virtual private servers (SSD and HDD), content delivery network services, MojoCloud and more — is growing the fastest in terms of demand and resources?
Mitchell: The core business has always been MojoHost and all of our hosting and server offerings there. As excited as I am about our other new offerings, that is the service we have won the awards for and that’s why we are the No. 1 adult hosting company.
In terms of growth, our MojoCDN offering is a big deal. The first big CDN deal we did was with JuicyAds, who uses an incredible amount of bandwidth to deliver ads across their network. Since then we have brought on many other notable companies who haven’t looked back. Adult is content-intensive and uses a ton of bandwidth, so it’s really important that you have a balance between quality and affordability.
By using our global MojoCDN network, our clients benefit from our scale and great relationships with our providers. Our pricing structure is completely backwards of how most CDN companies operate. Our current bandwidth offers of one cent per GB (or lower) gives all of our clients the best price, regardless of their size. It has allowed us to provide better rates than anyone else in adult hosting.
I don’t want to toot our own horn too much, but MojoCDN is compatible with Amazon S3 and a replacement for CloudFront at a fraction of the cost. If you’re not using MojoCDN you are paying way too much.
XBIZ: How do you balance work and your family life?
Mitchell: I love this question and would love to share more in the future. So many lessons learned as a parent and husband these last 19 years. For most of us, there will never be balance but you have to show up for both. My first tip is forgiveness. You must forgive yourself as well as others. Do it quickly and do it often. Learn from your mistakes and be sensitive to those around you. Success comes at a high cost and whether you are failing or succeeding, rest assured that everyone in your life sacrifices in ways different from your personal experience.
Take an honest inventory of yourself and swallow your pride. You already know where you’re failing, but may not be acting on it. We make time for what’s important to us. If you’re not making time for your family it’s an excuse, regrettable or simply not that important to you. Prioritize and invest in work smarter — wake up earlier, work after everyone is sleeping. There are 24 hours in the day to connect with your loved ones and still get the job done. Stop failing at work and at life.
The small things matter. Learn to be grateful. Become thoughtful. In retrospect, I regret being late or absent from my own life. I could have worked smarter, been more realistic in setting expectations and showed up for dinner more. I have spent much of the last nine years with business coaches and some with therapists. Bit by bit and byte by byte, I believe that you never stop learning to be a better person in all ways.
XBIZ: What’s on the horizon for MojoHost?
Mitchell: We have early adopters working with us on our new MojoCloud service, and the whole MojoHost team is very excited for the upcoming official launch. We are taking on billion dollar companies, and we intend to make it count. Beyond that, it’s a bit too early to talk about it, but as an exclusive to XBIZ I can say that we are working on something else very special codenamed “MojoExtreme.” I love talking tech and it’s hurting me not to say more, but if you want to see what MojoHost is really capable of, stay tuned for MojoExtreme.