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Turning A Loss Into A Launch 🚀

A few months back I was thinking about how dated Hotjar has become, and that it wasn’t really fit for purpose in an age where privacy counts. I’d been talking about it with a friend, and we were thinking of building something. Then, out of the blue, Hotjar contacted me to invite me for a job interview

I was pretty excited. It was a Principle Designer role at a company whose culture and bootstrapping ethos had always impressed me. I had so many ideas for how the product and technology could be improved, and I knew I had the skills to help make it happen, but the interview lead to nothing 😞.

Well, it didn’t lead to a job. They felt there were other candidates better suited to the role, and I trust that they know what their company needs better than I do. That said, I didn’t come away empty handed. In fact, I came away with the motivation to go and create something of my own.

During the interview I learned that in the face of increasing competition, and legacy tech that wasn’t ready for modern regulation or cookieless tracking, Hotjar were about to undertake a huge overhaul of their product. The interview had validated my assumption that there were opportunities in the user analytics space that some of the incumbents were struggling to solve for. Additionally, I know a thing or two about migrating technology and user experiences from my day jobs - it’s slow, painful, and most business will continue to fall behind.

So, after talking with my friend, we decided it was time to build. We knew we had one advantage, and that was being able to move fast. We also had to be ready for the modern web i.e. private by default: no cookie or IP based tracking, with options to fully mask user data client-side 🕵️

5 weeks later we released the alpha version of Squeaky, then by week 8 we had a stable beta release. We’re now 12 weeks into the project and steadily growing our user base and responding to their feedback and ideas. We’re trying to stay true to the idea of continuously launching, and so far that’s proven vital - each new, albeit small, cohort of users brings with it key insights the drives our next round of product development, and we’re building a crystal clear picture of what it is that people want.

Today’s marks the first version of Squeaky that I feel proud to no longer call alpha or beta - it’s alive, stable and something we're really proud of. We're still early in our journey, and learning a lot, but if you’re interested in knowing what users are up to on your website or web app, I’d love for you to come and try Squeaky! Your feedback will help shape what Squeaky becomes, and …we’ve kept it free! Right now feedback is worth more to us than money, and we also plan to have a full-featured free tier even when we add billing.

Funnily enough, since my interview with Hotjar, they have been acquired. They said themselves it was to help them move faster and make use of cookieless tech etc. Further validation, even if it does mean the opportunity might get a little smaller. That said, we’ve got bigger ideas about using AI to turn Squeaky into Minority Report for your user experience…but that’s a secret for now 😜

  1. 3

    Congrats on getting out of the beta phase! It seems to me that focusing on users' feedback has paid off tremendously for you.

    Also, I've enjoyed reading your story. It's always inspiring to hear someone making the most out of situations in which it's so easy to become demotivated (job interview rejection being an extremely good example).

    Cheers!

    1. 2

      Thanks Misha 🙂 Getting something launched quickly and getting user feedback has been great. It's forced us to question our assumptions a lot and make a lot of changes and additions that we never thought we would have...though it is harder work haha.

  2. 1

    I think I was one of the first people to try out Squeaky, and I was super impressed with that alpha version, and I check in with it just about every day. I'm really excited for the future of the product. Well done Chris and Lewis!

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