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3 awards, 9 talks, 18 startups: Hotjar’s XAwards round-up

Back in February, we launched the XAwards for early-stage startups (2 to 5 members) to discover some of the world’s most innovative and exciting teams, and learn about the products and services they are building. We also wanted to give back to the startup community with three XAwards cash prizes: €20,000 for Best Overall Experience, €5,000 for Best Tech Achievement and €5,000 for Best Mobile App Experience.

We selected 10 finalists from 640 entries and invited them to Malta (where Hotjar is headquartered) on May 11th to pitch their projects to our judging panel; we later extended the invite to an additional 8 teams who had impressed us. And because we knew this would be a great networking and learning opportunity for everyone, including Hotjar's remote team, we also decided to organize a 2-day event with international guest speakers from companies such as Basecamp, Pipedrive, PriceIntelligently, Receptive and SaaStock.

Last updated

18 Aug 2022

Reading time

2 min



The XAwards 2017 winning teams

Best Overall Experience - €20,000

To our judging panel, what makes a digital experience “the best” is the ability to have a significant impact on the lives of its users, deliver value quickly and reliably, generate ‘wow’ moments, and have a flawless execution. Based on these criteria, the prize for Best Overall Experience went to the French team behind Crisp, an all-in-one chat solution for quick and efficient communication with users.

Best Tech Achievement - €5,000

To award Best Tech Achievement, the judging panel considered the size of the technical challenges faced by teams, the technology stack used, and the use of an innovative or proprietary approach. The award went to the Polish creators of, an eye-tracking service that aims to help make usability studies more affordable and popular by replacing expensive hardware with basic laptop webcams.

Best Mobile App Experience - €5,000

For the Best Mobile App Experience award, the judges looked at how relevant, unique and innovative the experience is to the mobile app platform. The prize went to the French team behind SoundR, a free music-discovery app that promises to help people find music that suits their mood and tastes.

All finalists received a free 2-year Hotjar Business account and €200 off tickets to SaaStock 2017. Crisp were also offered a startup sponsorship package to SaaStock worth €5000.


David Darmanin, Hotjar CEO & founder and one of three judges on the panel, explains that:

We didn’t expect to see such amazing talent and projects. We were blown away by the fact that 600+ teams applied and it was quite difficult for us to choose the finalists. Being a remote company, an event like this is an amazing opportunity for us to stay in touch with the startup ‘fire’ and give something back, but we also got a lot out of it. We wanted to have a small and intimate event — nothing comes close to the power of human connections.

9 talks + a startup guide based on the XAwards

After the XAwards, we took all the materials from the event, interviewed a few extra experts people, did a lot of additional research, and package it all into a 9-chapter Essential guide to growing your early-stage SaaS startup. If you own a digital business or are thinking about starting one, you’ll get valuable and actionable advice from on topics such as:

  • When to think about funding and investment

  • Pricing your product or service strategically

  • Finding and approaching influencers (think ProductHunt) to gain exposure

  • Implementing Agile processes in your business

  • Building and maintaining a remote team

  • Shaping your product roadmap using customer feedback

Enjoy learning and growing… and in the meantime, watch some drone footage from our amazing venue!

If you were at the XAwards (or watched the live feed), leave us a comment and tell us about your experience!