Interview: Hotjar

We have the great opportunity to interview David Darmanin, the CEO of Hotjar – an all-in-one Analytics and feedback tool that make easier understanding your web and mobile site visitors. A team of 25 people where members based all over the world including Stockholm, New York, London, Prague or Malta. You can follow the company on twitter or Facebook or you can visit their website. Also, you can check open job offers in our Hotjar jobs page.

1. Could you please introduce you? What’s the name of your company, what do you do, how many are you, from where do you work?

David Darmanin HotjarI’m David Darmanin the CEO of Hotjar – cloud based software that allows you to see how your visitors are really using your site or web app. We’re currently a team of 25 and we’re remote with team members based all over the world including Stockholm, New York, London, Prague… as well as the tiny island of Malta where we have our HQ.

2. How, when and why did you become a remote team or distributed company with employees working remotely?

We did this at day 1. Having worked remotely before I knew this was the lifestyle we wanted everyone on the team to have. During the first few months we were just a team of 4 all based in Malta – but we still worked ‘remotely’ to create the right foundations from day 1.

3. Which have been the advantages to become a remote company or having a distributed team?

There is one main advantage… the ability to hire the best people from anywhere in the world. This makes it easier to build and sustain your company culture.

4. Have there been any disadvantages and obstacles? How have you overcome these challenges?

There have been many obstacles. The main one is lack of face time and building one on one rapport. We overcome this by using tools like hangouts and hipchat video… but more importantly we do company retreats every 6 months in different places around the world. Our last event was a skiing trip in Utah.

5. How do you do to operate effectively as a remote or distributed team? Have you modified the processes, tools, organization and internal activities?

Yes everything is optimized for remote work. The key is to have very simple yet structured processes. We also keep a very strict rhythm within the company. First thing in the week all teams plan. Everyday we have quick stand up catch up calls and we always end the week with a 1 hour demo from the whole company (yes all teams demo in just 1 hour!)

6. How do you do to hiring remotely? What’s the process that you follow?

I would need an entire interview just to answer this question. We’ve put A LOT of thought into the process… and it’s been optimized iteratively over time. We have a lot of steps and it’s a lot of work. We only want people that really want to work with us to apply. We start with a survey, then a short video, next we do an interview and if we feel there is a fit we move to the ‘task stage’. At this point candidates join us on hipchat to do some work with us (for which we pay). This allows both parties to see if there is a match or not.

7. What would you say to companies that don’t believe to hire employees who work remotely?

This is a tricky question. If you have already established a culture and have many team members in an office, going remote might not be a good idea. It can destabilize the organization. I don’t think remote is for all organizations. It requires you to be very open minded, transparent and trusting. So I would say – if you don’t believe in it, don’t do it.

8. Which are the tools that you use or help you to work remotely?

We use hipchat to communicate, basecamp for announcements, trello and jira for collaboration and organization and GSuite for collaborative productivity and planning. There are other tools but these are our core ones.

9. How do you manage the business, salaries and things like taxes as a remote company?

I would rather not answer this question due to the legal situation on this (working on address it).

10. What advice would you give to companies that are starting to work remotely or establishing a distributed team?

Only hire people you can completely trust. If you hire someone that you cannot trust you have to let go. Building a distributed team is rooted in mutual trust.

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