David Darmanin

Author

David Darmanin

David is the Founder and Chairman of Hotjar. Before founding the company, he spent a decade generating hundreds of millions of dollars in growth consulting some of the web’s most sophisticated companies. Founded in 2014, Hotjar is a 100% distributed company with 170 team members across 33 countries and is used on over 900,000 sites worldwide.

Blog articles

Team seated around a table, discussing matters

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Behind the scenes

70+ examples of core company values & how they shape your culture

When we started Hotjar in 2014, the four co-founders and I knew what we wanted from each other: the ability to move fast, stay lean, self-manage, and take ownership. We didn’t need to write any of it down as our official company values: we just acted in line with those principles and kept one another in check every day.

Fast forward to 2019, when we’ve grown into a company of 70+ people spread across 19 countries. At this point, company values play a crucial part in how the company is shaped and grows — and, as the CEO, it’s my job to own these values and the culture of Hotjar.

In this article, I’m sharing what I’ve learned about company values in the past five years at Hotjar: why they are important, where to look for inspiration, and how to go about articulating and implementing them.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

The Hotjar story (part 2) – from beta to €1 million ARR in 6 months

Last year we wrote about how Hotjar went from idea to 60,000 beta signups in 6 months. As we inched closer to the end of the 6-month Hotjar beta phase, we had no idea what would happen once we started asking for payment.

We had just over €100,000 left in the bank after paying salaries for 9 months. I had worked as a consultant during this time, billing clients from the company and not taking a salary myself. I had planned to keep these funds available so we could weather a storm should Hotjar not take off.

Luckily, we were covering our operational costs within two months of stopping the beta. Having seen this result, we had the confidence to invest more personal funds into Hotjar and have a small treasure chest to build the team from. This allowed us to continue building on the success of our beta and ultimately reach €1 million in ARR in just 6 months.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

An internal investment of €17.5 million & a new vision for the future of Hotjar

Since being founded in 2014, Hotjar has been bootstrapped and profitable. To date, we’ve only reinvested into the business and no dividends have been paid out to shareholders. We’ve done this because we’re truly passionate about our vision, the work we do, and the people we do it for, and we believe that we’re building the foundations of a long-lasting business.

We’ve always believed in documenting our journey transparently, but it’s been almost two years since our last official company update, when we announced that we were investing €4 million into improving Hotjar and making it even better for you and your teams. Since then, we’ve had some successes, made some mistakes, and kept investing in the business—by the end of 2019, we’ll have added an additional €13 million on top of what we last announced. Today, I’m sharing an overview of how we did it, what this means for you, and what we’re doing next.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

The Hotjar story (part 3) - growing our team & product while going from €1 to €3 million ARR

When we founded Hotjar in 2014, we had an ambitious vision for our product, but we were also an unknown team of five with no external funding and little experience in the world of SaaS. We didn’t let any of that stop us: Hotjar went from idea to 60,000 beta signups in six months, and we hit an important milestone by going from beta to €1 million Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) in the six months that followed. 

In this piece, I’m going to take you back to the period between late 2015 and mid-2016 when Hotjar tripled ARR from €1 to 3 million. Looking back from the vantage point of having grown past €15 million ARR, I can see that a lot of our current success and failures can be traced back to that time. That was the point when we realized we needed to create solid foundations for the growth we were experiencing, and take big, bold decisions to:  

David Darmanin

UX design and analysis

8 skills you need to become a UX design rockstar

If you are expecting this to be a list of UX tools, devices or platforms then be prepared to be disappointed!

Being a rockstar at UX design means that you can deliver bankable and measurable results with your work... not eye-candy that impresses your friends and colleagues. So understandably, I chose to base this list on what I have learnt from seeing UX specialists at work on hundreds of projects, split tests and experiments.

Mastering these 8 skills might not be a simple feat - but the returns of achieving this will be worth the while. Every competitive organisation will pay handsomely for a UX rockstar!

Note: These observations are based on my work with several organisations that generated yearly revenue between 8 million to 250 million dollars and teams that varied between 3 to a dozen members.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

Hotjar’s approach to privacy

Editor's note: this blog post is no longer being updated. Please read about our current approach to privacy here.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

The Passion Fallacy (or: why you need more than 'passion' to be successful)

“Follow your passion!”

At some point in your life, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone say that all you need to do to succeed is to “follow your passion.”

While it’s true in some cases, it doesn't always (or often) translate into automatic success in the startup world. And, in many cases, following your passion can lead you straight into a failed business.

So, what’s the solution?

For starters, you need to stop thinking about what you enjoy, and instead - start thinking about your strengths and the opportunities around you.

Now, to be fair, I used to swear that the way to succeed was to follow your passion. I thought (like many do) that if you do something you're passionate about, it has to succeed because you’ll do it with love and conviction.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

How we're re-investing €4 Million in 2017 to make Hotjar even better

Hotjar was founded in 2014 with a bold vision to ‘Change the way digital experiences are built and improved by democratizing user analytics and feedback’. In less than three years, we went from running a 9-month beta program, to making Hotjar available to the public, to experiencing tremendous growth by finally reaching an Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) of €8 Million as of June 2017.

David Darmanin

Marketing

How to go to market quickly and fail fast

If you’re building a startup or digital business (or want to), the worst thing you can ever do is fail slowly.

Failing fast and often won’t hurt you in the long run because you can recover or change course quickly. In fact, failure is part of the entrepreneurial world and building a business. But it needs to be fast.

Just to be clear – by failure, I'm not just referring to the entire business. It might be a feature, your onboarding, or the user experience.

David Brown talks about “failing fast” this way:

“Fail fast isn’t about the big issues, it’s about the little ones. It’s an approach to running a company or developing a product that embraces lots of little experiments with the idea that some will work and grow and others will fail and die.”

Yet, again and again, people with ideas spend too much time obsessing over the theory and the big idea – but at the end of the day, what matters the most is how quickly and effectively you can get to a big enough share of your target market.

Because, if you're too slow to take your idea to market...

...you risk ending up dead in the water.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

How to implement effective leadership to grow a business

By the time my co-founders and I started Hotjar five years ago, we’d had enough experience to know that old-school approaches to business leadership—micro-management, lack of transparency, and so on—wouldn’t do anymore. We felt very passionate about the fact that work needed to better adapt to our lives, rather than our lives adapt to work.

Since then, we managed to lay the foundations of a company that has grown to 75+ team members and over €16 million in annual revenue in just a few years. I want to share what I’ve learned about effective leadership and its characteristics to help other teams out there change the way they approach business and create companies where people love to work. 

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

Putting our core values to work: a letter to our community

Dear Hotjar community,

We founded Hotjar back in 2014 with a mission to democratize user analytics and feedback. While a lot has changed since then, we’re proud that our product vision today still speaks to our mission: “to give businesses of all sizes the insights they need to create digital experiences their users love.”

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

Hotjar has joined forces with Contentsquare

We’re extremely excited to announce that Hotjar has joined forces with Contentsquare!

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

The Hotjar story (part 1) – from idea to 60,000 beta signups in 6 months

I failed miserably in 2 startups before Hotjar. In both cases we built a product for months before we took it to market and started ‘selling’ it at scale. We thought that a well planned and complete user experience together with a top notch design were critical requirements before launch.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

Our approach to privacy (2019 and beyond)

TL;DR: as Hotjar's CEO, I’m writing this article to talk openly about what we’ve learned around privacy, mistakes we’ve made, and how this is changing the way we are building Hotjar going forward.

David Darmanin

Behind the scenes

How we (Hotjar) communicate with our 17,385 users

With 17,385 users in Hotjar and only a small team to build and support the product, as well as run the company – we quickly realized we have to be smart and efficient in the way we communicate with our users. We're also obsessed about delivering great service.

So how do we deliver top-notch service with limited resources? Here is the setup we use:

David Darmanin

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