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  • When’s The Best Time To Get a Small Business Loan?

    Friday, September 16, 2016 by

    Best Time To Get Small Business Loan

    Online lending is a great way for small business owners to get the capital they need to help their businesses grow.

    But they’re not for just anything. Before taking the plunge on a five- or six-figure loan, you need to ask yourself a couple of things: How will you pay it back and — even more importantly — how will it pay you back?

    Online lending makes getting access to necessary capital exceptionally easy — often just a few clicks on a website or mobile app. Projects perfect for an online loan are ones that have measurable ends and an obvious ROI (return on investment).

    Here are examples of how an online loan can make a BIG difference in the life of your company.


    1. To temporarily cover payroll as you take on new clients

    Your business is on the upswing, but you’ve got so much demand for your services that you can’t keep up. You need to hire more people to take on all this potential new work. Until you get paid by all these new clients you want to take on, you can’t pay for the new employee(s)!

    A small business loan could cover a new employee’s payroll for a month or two while you wait for those shiny new clients to pay their bills. Once you’ve been able to expand, thanks to that trusty new employee, the increased revenue should help you pay for their wages and repay the loan on time. Your new clients will tell their friends and colleagues about your good work, and your business will continue to grow.


    2. To weather lulls in cash flow (and even take advantage of them)

    Many Kabbage users are e-commerce sellers. How can a small business loan help your e-comm business? Well, you could use a Kabbage loan to stock up on inventory in the summer, when prices are low and sales are sluggish, and then hold onto that merchandise until the fall and winter, when demand picks up and prices increase. Without Kabbage, you wouldn’t have the money to make those purchases, since your own sales wouldn’t provide the necessary revenue during those slow summer months. By doing this, you’ll be prepared to cash in on the best pricing and the busiest shopping season while turbocharging your business’s growth.

    Even with the fees tacked onto your loan, you’ll still come out ahead. An online loan or line of credit can give you the capital you need to exploit the sales cycle.


    3. Upgrade your systems

    Let’s say you’re a used and rare book shop owner, and you’ve been doing business on the Internet. Online sales are starting to pick up, and you’re building a reputation outside the small Midwestern city where you’re based. But your payment systems are slow and out of date. Potential customers are irritated, and you can tell from your analytics that many of them get frustrated and give up rather than deal with your creaky old checkout process. You know that upgrading to a sleeker new interface will solve all your problems, as well as improve your shop’s image to out-of-state customers.

    But website redesigns and new e-commerce systems cost money, and it’d take a lot of signed first editions of A Tale of Two Cities to pay for it. A loan can help you upgrade ASAP and then use your increased sales and web presence to pay back the money over time.


    HostGator’s Recommendation

    There are lots of ways a small business loan can help you expand, but be sure you have a measurable goal in mind before you take the plunge. Once you do, check out our friends at Kabbage for fast, straightforward financing.

    Bonus: For a limited time, HostGator is offering Kabbage qualifiers a $100 Amazon* gift card.


    *Customer will receive a $100 Amazon gift card upon submitting a qualified application to Kabbage by 11:59pm EST October 11, 2016 through the link provided in this post. The gift card promotion is being run by Endurance International Group. Gift cards will be delivered to qualified customers electronically November 11, 2016. Amazon is a trademark of Amazon Technologies, Inc. Amazon is in no way affiliated with or a sponsor of this promotion.

  • Need a Business Loan? Compare the Top Online Lenders

    Wednesday, September 7, 2016 by

    Need a Business Loan

    If you’re a small business owner and you need an infusion of capital to grow your company, an online lender option could be the best fit.

    Unlike traditional banks, online lenders don’t use extensive applications requiring years of tax returns. By answering a few basic questions and linking your business accounts, you can get access to thousands of dollars in cash in just a few days, or in some cases, just a few minutes.

    There are lots of online lenders out there, and each has its own way of doing business. Some online lenders may be better suited to your needs than others.



    Kabbage offers qualified businesses access to lines of credit up to $100,000.Through their quick application process, Kabbage reviews your business accounts (business checking, PayPal, Square, QuickBooks) to get a full picture of your business.

    Rather than repeatedly applying for a loan every time you need extra capital, you withdraw from a line of credit as needed. For instance, you might be approved for up to $50,000, but only draw $5,000 to cover the payroll of two new part-time employees for a month. A few months later, you could borrow another $2,000 to do an emergency inventory restock.

    The funds are always available, and they're accessible online or right from your phone using Kabbage’s mobile app. 

    Each time you borrow against that line of credit, you get between six months and one year to pay it back. Rather than charging interest, Kabbage assesses a monthly fee, between 1 and 12% of your total principal, when you qualify.

    While there are no prepayment penalties, a borrower doesn’t save much by paying the loan off early, since the highest fees are paid in the first two months.

    Pros: Ease of use; generous borrowing standards even for businesses without an extensive credit history, plus you can find out if you qualify in just a few minutes. For a limited time, HostGator is giving away a $100 Amazon* gift card to those who qualify.

    Cons: High fees in the first couple of months; shorter loan terms.


    PayPal Working Capital

    PayPal Working Capital is ideal for businesses that already process their sales through PayPal. Once you confirm your data with PayPal, it uses your sales history to determine your creditworthiness and the total loan amount you qualify for. Like Kabbage, it takes only a few minutes, and applicants get a decision quickly.

    PayPal Working Capital differs from Kabbage in several ways:

    • They offer set loans, rather than access to a line of credit. Total loan amounts vary, but are capped at a percentage (usually 15%) of a business’s yearly sales, with a maximum of $85,000.
    • Instead of paying the loan back on a monthly basis, PayPal takes a certain percentage of your sales each day. If you have no sales, then no fees are deducted.
    • You can only apply for another loan once a previous loan is paid off. With Kabbage, you have access to a line of credit, and each withdrawal is considered a separate loan in terms of its repayment schedule.
    • Rather than assessing a monthly fee, PayPal Working Capital charges a set fee for the entire loan, calculated based on the loan amount, your repayment percentage, and your PayPal sales history. The higher your repayment percentage (i.e., the amount of your daily sales PPWC takes), the lower your fee.
    • While repayment is based on daily sales, every 90 days a minimum payment is due. If their cut of your sales over that 90-day period doesn’t equal at least 10% of your total loan amount (the loan itself plus the fixed loan fee), then you’ll have to pay the difference.

    PayPal Working Capital is great for someone who’s already using PayPal to process their payments, and who needs a bit more flexibility when it comes to repayment.

    Pros: Repayment based on sales, rather than on time. Seamless integration with existing PayPal sales data.

    Cons: Only available to businesses that use PayPal to process transactions; borrowers must reapply for each additional loan, and can’t take out another loan until the previous one has been repaid.



    LendingTree is a peer-to-peer lender, though many of its so-called “peers” are really institutional lenders — like banks or mortgage companies. It acts as a marketplace where prospective borrowers enter some basic information, and lenders then compete for their loan. LendingTree isn’t solely in the small business space, and it offers personal loans, mortgages, and auto loans, among others.

    It also offers four different types of business loans: long-term loans, short-term loans, business lines of credit, and alternative financing (including cash advances and startup financing). All of these loan types have different requirements, different repayment periods, and different interest rates. Unlike many other online lenders, some LendingTree loans require a credit score, and even collateral. They do, however, offer much bigger loans than either Kabbage or PayPal Working Capital, and are thus more suitable for businesses looking to fund serious capital projects. These larger loans also have longer terms.

    Since LendingTree acts primarily as a marketplace, a sort of matchmaker between borrowers and lenders, there’s less uniformity and more complexity. The application process has been streamlined, and borrowers should hear back within a few days’ time. But LendingTree lacks the simplicity of either Kabbage or PayPal Working Capital.

    Pros: Lots of options, large loan amounts, and competitive rates from different lenders.

    Cons: Some major loans require collateral and use your personal credit score to determine your level of risk, which can eliminate businesses whose owners have a checkered credit history, even if their business is doing well. Many LendingTree loans require a personal guarantee, which makes the business owner personally liable for the loan should the business go under.


    Every small business is unique and has different financing needs. Before committing to an online lender, be sure to consider what’s most important to you, whether that be flexible repayment plans or easy access to funds.

    We hope this overview helped you decide on a lender for your small business loan. Remember, for a limited time, HostGator is giving away a $100 Amazon* gift card to those who qualify for Kabbage.

    *Customer will receive a $100 Amazon gift card upon submitting a qualified application to Kabbage by 11:59pm EST September 29, 2016 through the link provided in this post. The gift card promotion is being run by Endurance International Group. Gift cards will be delivered to qualified customers electronically October 29, 2016. Amazon is a trademark of Amazon Technologies, Inc. Amazon is in no way affiliated with or a sponsor of this promotion.
  • 5 College Entrepreneurs Whose Online Businesses Paid For Their Education

    Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by
    College Entrepreneurs

    Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become household names in recent years, as they’ve enabled the launch of such products as the Pebble Watch and the Veronica Mars movie. According to Business Insider, now university students are cashing in on the trend, with “the number of GoFundMe campaigns specifically mentioning ‘tuition’ having risen 4,547% from 2011 to 2014.”

    With the increasing cost of university tuition, it should come as no surprise that students are unearthing whatever revenue streams they can.

    While some students turn to crowdfunding to help with tuition costs, others question why they should have to wait until graduation to start their own business. Five of these enterprising students shared with HostGator how their online businesses grew from ideas to cash cows.

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    1. Pandy Apparel

    Founded by Kate Delossantos, University of Maryland at College Park

    Pandy Apparel

    Kate hopped on the crowdfunding trend to test the viability of her business idea. “Back in the summer of 2015, I held a successful Kickstarter to print my very own line of clothing. After I sent out the clothing to my backers, I was really happy and excited that people liked the clothes I made. That's when I decided to start my own online clothing store, which I named pandy apparel.”

    In addition to designing the clothing, Kate creates all the graphics and photography for the site and codes the layout. She credits this experience for helping her decide her college major. “After putting so much work into it, I realized that this was the kind of thing I was really passionate about, and I changed from a computer science major to an art major.”


    2. Board Blazers

    Founded by Greg Rudolph, Arizona State University

    Board Blazers

    They say all it takes is one good idea, and in Greg’s case, that idea was based on something as simple as duct tape. Greg is now a graduate student pursuing his MBA, and he still marvels at how one innocuous observation grew into a worldwide business:

    “After I spotted a student who had duct-taped Christmas lights to his skateboard riding around the Arizona State University campus one night in 2011, I was inspired with the idea for Board Blazers LED Underglow Skateboard Lights. I risked most of my personal savings and started the company while an undergrad at ASU at age 20 in March 2012. Since then, the company has grown surprisingly to sales in all 50 states and 35 countries around the world. Our lights have been featured at SXSW, by celebrity Casey Niestat, and by pro skater Tech Na$ty.”


    3. MOVE

    Founded by Ashley Olafsen, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    MOVE Official

    When they were just teenagers, Ashley and her best friend Lexie Phipps founded MOVE, which stands for Motivate. Overcome. Value. Empower. The duo is “dedicated to working with middle and high school aged girls on body image, media, self esteem, mental health, and more.”

    Not only do they host workshops and summer programs, but Ashley has already achieved one of her life goals, giving a TED Talk. You can shop MOVE’s products or sign up for a workshop at their website.


    4. Ace Work Gear

    Founded by Max Robinson, Imperial College London

    Ace Work Gear

    Max had made a hobby out of building websites for fun, but it wasn’t until a friend introduced him to e-commerce that he considered doing something similar.

    Based in Fife, Scotland, Ace Work Gear sells and ships hardware tools and workwear to construction businesses worldwide. “It took me quite a while to build the site properly and I had to find a company that was willing to rent the website from me, but I'm very happy with how it turned out and continue to make updates and adjustments on a weekly basis. I've even been able to use the website as part of my college portfolio!”


    5. Game Learners

    Founded by Ravel Charles, Northeastern University

    Game Learners

    Game Learners serves as an online resource to help gamers and parents tap into the educational power and health benefits of video games. Not only did Ravel start Game Learners as a student, but he was also inspired by one of his classes.

    “I realized how similar one of my favorite video games was to the concepts I learned that day in my Project Management class. That day I learned about the project management life cycle and managing a project. As I was learning about it I realized that the concepts came easier to me because it was very similar to how I play Franchise Mode (Called MyGM Mode) in NBA 2K16 and manage my own sports team. In the video game, the owner of the team will give directions and I will have to make sure to complete them in a timely fashion, with goals that needed to be achieved along the way. This is similar to managing a project in real life. From there, I thought, how can other children benefit from this type of learning?”

    Ravel keeps the website open-source and free for members, making money off of advertising.

    Bonus Entrepreneur: HostGator


    HostGator was originally founded in a dorm room in Florida Atlantic University. We've since grown to be a global provider of web hosting and related services with over 500 employees working out of offices all over the world!

    Are you inspired by these student entrepreneurs? Start your online business today with your very own website from HostGator.

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  • Airbnb, Uber — Now: The Rise of Online Lending

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016 by

    Online Lending

    Cash flow. It’s the #1 priority for any business owner.

    We can (and should) talk about passion, leadership, and full-stack/content/social marketing, but at the end of the day (and Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful would concur), cash is king.

    In the past, if you needed a loan for your business, you had to go to a bank. You had to dress up in your best suit, provide a ton of records, and go through an arduous application process.

    And after all that, there was no guarantee you'd be approved. It was stressful, tedious, and frustrating. Now there’s a faster, easier way to get the funding your small business needs. In a sense, it's an Uber for lending.


    Wait, There’s an Uber for Borrowing Funds?

    With online lending, you not only don’t have to go to a bank to get a loan, you don’t even need to leave your house! Instead of putting on your best suit, you can apply for a loan in your footie pajamas. (We don’t judge.) And your chances of approval are based on the health of your business rather than just your personal credit score.


    How Does Online Lending Work?

    Online lending lets you apply for a small business loan in just a few minutes with a few keystrokes (or taps on your phone). You’ll be spared the long wait to see if you’ve been approved, as most applicants hear back within minutes to just a couple of days. You could have access to the money your business needs as soon as the same day.

    Online lending has exploded in the last decade as nimble upstarts, armed with the insights of data and unburdened by the capital requirements of traditional banks, aim to disrupt lending the same way Uber has disrupted transportation and Airbnb has given hotels a run for their money.


    But What’s Wrong with Traditional Banks?

    Following the financial crisis, many risk-shy banks seriously cut back on their small business loans. Regulations designed to rein in the excesses of the subprime mortgage bubble further contributed to the crunch. According to Biz2Credit, only about 17% of small business loan applications are approved by big banks.

    That’s less than a one-in-five shot for any business owner needing an infusion of cash.


    Online Lenders Save Small Businesses

    Enter online lending, which, as an industry, has doubled in size every year since 2010. By 2014, it accounted for more than $12 billion in loans. While that’s just a growing slice of the lending pie, these new lenders are eager to expand to serve increasing numbers of customers.

    The loans (and lines of credit) given out by these companies can range from as little as $2,000 to as much as $100,000 and beyond. The terms of the loans can range from six months to several years. Interest rates vary, and some companies, like Kabbage, don’t charge interest in the traditional sense; rather, they assess a monthly fee, usually a small percentage of your principal, when you qualify.

    The application and approval process is also different for online lenders. Rather than require stacks of financial records, they review your business accounts, like PayPal QuickBooks, or a business checking account. They use technology to analyze your cash flow and give you a decision in just minutes. 

    Like with any source of funding, there are risks to online lending: Any business should be careful to invest funds in things that will provide a return and should only borrow what they can pay back. But used wisely, they can be an indispensable tool as you build your business from the ground up.

    Find out how much working capital you qualify for at Kabbage. HostGator is currently giving away $100 Amazon* gift cards to those with approved applications.


    *Customer will receive a $100 Amazon gift card upon submitting a qualified application to Kabbage by 11:59pm EST September 6, 2016 through the link provided in this post. The gift card promotion is being run by Endurance International Group. Gift cards will be delivered to qualified customers electronically October 6, 2016. Amazon is a trademark of Amazon Technologies, Inc. Amazon is in no way affiliated with or a sponsor of this promotion.

  • 10 Lessons From Top Athletes For Entrepreneurs

    Wednesday, August 10, 2016 by
    Top Athletes

    You may spend a lot of your time behind a desk devoting more of your efforts to exercising your brain than your body, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your work is incredibly dissimilar from that of top athletes. Many of the skills that make entrepreneurs successful have a lot in common with those that enable athletes to get the gold (or silver or bronze).

    You don’t need to get to a gym and start doing hours of physical training every day, but for entrepreneurial success, you should pay attention to these key takeaways from how the top athletes train and win.


    1. Set goals.

    Define what you want to achieve. To keep herself and her training on track every day, gold medalist Natalie Coughlin sets both short-term and long-term goals and commits to consistently achieving them.

    Setting goals turns ideas into something tangible and achievable, particularly when you have a mix of high-level, long-term goals that you break down into the smaller goals you need to achieve in order to get there. By sitting down to really work out what you want and what you need to accomplish to get to what you want, you create a clear path to success.

    The path may veer into different directions here and there, but as long as you create clearly defined goals and hold yourself to them, your chances of success greatly increase.


    2. Seek out help.

    Like entrepreneurs, superstar athletes are often independent and driven, but the most successful amongst them have the smarts to see that they need others to succeed. No athlete gets to the games entirely on their own.

    [bctt tweet="Just like professional athletes, entrepreneurs need a team for business success." username="hostgator"]

    Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin talks openly about how important her relationship with her coach is to her success. For Olympic runner Bob Schul, one of the most influential factors to his success was his coach and mentor Mihály Iglói.

    Between the coaches, doctors, and the loved ones that all support and encourage athletes, winning a medal even in an individual sport is something of a team effort.

    Running a business is no different. Finding mentors who know more than you and hiring people who specialize in all the things you don’t can make all the difference in going from being someone who just has a good idea to someone who runs a successful business.


    3. You have to be all in.

    Nobody makes it onto a professional team that just kind of sort of wants to be there. Everyone who gets picked decided a long time ago that this one thing was his or her number one goal and priority.

    Four-time gold medal winner Jesse Owens has been widely quoted as saying “we all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”

    [bctt tweet="Want to be an entrepreneur? Don't just fit in your dream around your day job; make it your day job." username="hostgator"]

    If you want to get a business off the ground and keep it successful in the long term, the odds are against you. To beat those odds, you have to make your business a top priority and commit fully to making it work.


    4. But also, learn how to pace yourself.

    Olympic training regimens are time consuming and brutal, for sure. What they also are though is carefully crafted to push the limits of what the human body can accomplish without ever going past what’s safe or healthy for the athlete. That’s a delicate balance.

    Too much training counter intuitively leads to a worse performance, if not injuries that take athletes out of the running entirely.

    Just as overtraining can lead to failure for athletes, overworking can cause burnout for entrepreneurs. Stress can have some pretty serious effects on our health. You have to work hard to succeed, but not too hard.


    5. Be willing to take risks.

    In response to critics who said he stayed in the ring for too long, Olympic gold medalist Muhammed Ali famously said, "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

    Many sports are dangerous and all of them come with the constant risk of losing – and if you get far enough, losing in a very public way. There’s a lot that’s scary about being a professional athlete, but the rewards are great.

    Anyone who’s pursued entrepreneurship knows the same applies. Whether it’s quitting your stable job to see if your business idea will work or taking out a big loan to finance your company, the risks are significant. But the end goal of being a successful business owner makes all those risks worth it.


    6. Focus on the long game.

    Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones recently announced that she wouldn’t be heading to Rio for this year’s Olympics due a recent hip injury, but added “See you in 2020 homies.”

    Knowing she couldn’t make her best showing this year without the potential of harming herself further for future competition, she made the smart move to hold off on going for a medal today to increase her chances of getting one later.

    Success in most things comes from playing the long game. Most Olympic athletes train for years in order to make the Olympic team. During that time, the rewards are virtually nonexistent. All the work is going toward a potential, future award (that not all will achieve). But the possibility of that gold medal makes the long years worth it.

    [bctt tweet="Just like pro athletes, entrepreneurs typically undergo years of planning to reach ultimate success." username="hostgator"]

    In most cases, running a business works the same way. Unless you’re abnormally lucky, your first few years will be demanding, difficult, and far more full of risk than reward. But only those who play the long game and stick it out make it to the finish line.


    7. Diversify your skill set.

    Every athlete has one sport they focus on. The runners are focused on improving their run times, the swimmers devote most of their training to swimming, and the gymnasts give their attention to perfecting gymnastics.

    Nonetheless, many of them benefit from mixing things up a bit. If you look at the exercise regimens of different Olympic athletes, you’ll see it’s not all one thing all the time. Skier Julia Mancuso does squats and free-diving, as well as keeping up with her ski practice. Luger Erin Hamlin does weight training, pull-ups, and yoga.

    Every Olympian focuses on one thing, but all of them do a mix of exercises in order to excel at their one specialty.

    Entrepreneurs have to wear many hats as well. You can’t just be an idea guy, you have to figure out how to make plans, execute a variety of tasks, hire and manage the right people, and attend to a wide number of other needs that will come up in the course of running your business.

    Be willing to hire and delegate when needed, but also make an effort to learn at least a little bit about most of the skills and knowledge areas needed to keep your business going.


    8. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.

    Comfort is nice. We all like being comfortable, but it’s not where the people who find the most success in life live.

    Many athletes train at high altitudes to push their bodies further while doing the same amount of exercise. Since high altitudes have less oxygen, the body compensates with extra red blood cells and the athlete can return to lower altitudes better prepared to take on their sport.

    Many Olympians who compete in outdoor events make a point of training on difficult terrain, so they’re that much more prepared for whatever challenges the Olympics courses throw their way.

    The lesson is clear, there’s a benefit to pushing yourself beyond what’s comfortable. That’s true in business as well. The most obvious, comfortable route is not always the one that will lead to the most reward. Try things that fall outside of your typical wheelhouse and consider routes that wouldn’t be your first choice.


    9. Be persistent.

    It’s easy to come up with excuses not to do something. What’s harder is facing down those excuses – even good, persuasive ones – and continuing in your efforts in spite of them.

    Olympic kayaker Carrie Johnson had a great excuse to stop kayaking competitively in 2003 when she learned she had Crohn’s disease. Battling a disease and competing in the Olympics is a lot for one person to deal with. But as you can guess, based on the fact that we’re writing about her here, she not only went on to compete in the 2004 Olympics, but then again in 2008 and 2012.

    Not every athlete deals with a health issue like Crohn’s disease, but almost every athlete will deal with an injury at some point. An injury’s a perfectly good reason to stop training and focus your efforts on something that doesn’t push your body so hard. But at some point, every athlete has faced that easy excuse to stop and made a choice to keep going.

    When you run a business you will face difficulties and challenges. It’s not a question of if, but of when. You can easily turn those challenges into excuses to stop, or you can take the more difficult path and keep going. Persistence is a necessary ingredient in every entrepreneurial success, just as it is for every medal an athlete wins.

    [bctt tweet="Persistence is a necessary ingredient for entrepreneurial success, just as it is for top athlete." username="hostgator"]


    10. Take care of yourself.

    Athletic training is hard. Entrepreneurship is hard. Most of the lessons on the list drive that idea home. Success in both arenas takes a lot of work, a lot of risk, and some falls along the way.

    But one of the things most successful athletes and entrepreneurs do that people don’t talk about as much is find little indulgences that help balance out the work.

    Most Olympic athletes have a routine, a particular hobby, or a number of non-sports interests that help them take a break and relax in between bouts of training. Speed skater J.R. Celski takes trips to the sauna after his workouts. Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler meditates every day. And skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender likes to go fishing.

    Make sure that, somewhere in your to-do list, you make sure to fit in whatever your version of fishing or meditation is. The culture of entrepreneurship is so focused on hard work, there’s a risk of feeling guilty anytime you set aside a night for watching Netflix or take a week off to go on a well-earned vacation, but we all need that time.

    You might be a persistent, risk-taking, hard-working entrepreneur, but you’re still a human being. If Olympic athletes can make room in their schedule to relax, then you can too. 

    A key part of entrepreneurial success is having a great website. Enjoy gold medal web hosting with HostGator!

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