Can you imagine meeting up with co-founders and starting a business at the age of 15? And years later, celebrating not only a long-lived business, but also a massively valuable resource that has helped tens of thousands of websites?
That’s James Gill’s story. Of course, there were twists and turns (and evolution) along the way.
James is a co-founder of GoSquared, “the simplest analytics service in the world.” They’ve taken a complex, yet incredibly important, part of running a business online and turned it into something simple and meaningful: harnessing the power of real-time insights and analytics.
Today, James talks with The Daily Interview about the origins of the company and why it’s a great solution — even over something as popular as Google Analytics. He also shares his best tips for someone who is afraid to jump into entrepreneurship with both feet.
James, I love that you co-founded GoSquared. I played around with the demo, and it really does look like a powerful yet simple analytics tool.
Thanks very much,Eric. I’m flattered! We need to change this situation and get you on board right away — it’s hard to understand the impact real-time insights can have until they’re applied to your own web presence.
So, what’s your background like, and what led to the creation of GoSquared?
The journey actually started a long time ago, in 2006. That was when GoSquared was founded. I met my co-founders, Geoff and JT, at school when we were all 14 or 15 years old.
We were meant to be studying for our GCSEs at the time but somehow managed to learn our respective disciplines — mine being design and business management, Geoff’s being back-end coding, and JT’s being front-end programming.
We were driven by the idea that anyone, even a bunch of kids at school, could build a global business from nothing.
Originally GoSquared was all about selling advertising space on our homepage, then came the GoSquared Blog, and then eventually we started getting excited about the possibilities of analytics and what could be done with real-time data.
We’ve built the business up to where it is today through constant evolution and improvement.
The average website owner is probably most familiar with Google Analytics when it comes to website analytic applications. How would you compare GoSquared with Google Analytics? Who is your target audience?
Absolutely, Google Analytics is a really powerful service, and it’s obviously “free” too. It offers tons of features, and that can be overwhelming for a lot of people. GoSquared cuts through the clutter and offers you a much easier-to-use product, so more people inside companies can benefit from the data.
On top of being super easy to use, everything in GoSquared is real time, so you never need to wait for anything before making a decision.
And the final part of the equation is that GoSquared enables you to dive down into visitor-level detail so you can understand the people who are using your website, web app, or e-commerce store and even reach out and communicate with them — stretching beyond what is usually expected of analytics tool.
How is GoSquared doing today?
We’re now tracking over 50,000 sites around the world, a huge number that really emphasizes the great job both our sales and marketing and our engineering teams are doing. I remember the days where we struggled to handle the traffic levels of 100 sites on board!
On top of that, our revenue is growing month to month, and we’re excited by where we’ll be by the end of the year at this pace.
We just celebrated our business birthday, inviting our top customers and loads of people who have helped us over the years, and family too. It really underlined to me just how many people you can impact when you set out to do something great.
Aside from just having a good idea and the ability to work hard, it seems like many successful startups have done a good job of building the right team. GoSquared is no exception. In your opinion, how should someone with an idea and a plan go about building a team?
Building a great team is ridiculously difficult. I’ve made mistakes here in the past that I am keen to share someday. I am really proud of the team we have right now — some of the best developers and engineers I’ve ever met, and our sales and marketing team are a bunch of intensely passionate machines.
When starting out, I think there’s a lot you can do by yourself. It has never been easier to start out on your own. In London, where we’re based, there’s a lot of infrastructure to support individuals: meet-ups where people can collaborate on ideas, investors connecting people together, co-working spaces where spontaneous meetings can happen.
The more you can do to build attention around your idea, the better.
What tips do you have for an aspiring entrepreneur who has an idea for a business or product but is afraid to jump in with both feet?
This is a great question. I get asked it a lot, and my answer has changed many times over the past few years. When we started GoSquared, the world was quite different. Today, there is an explosion of ideas and people ready and willing to work on those ideas.
It’s easier than ever to start something — most people can do that. The real challenge is establishing whether your idea or proposal can be turned into a real business, with a real team, with real money, with a vision for the future.
A few things I wish someone had told me when starting out:
- This is going to be much harder than you think.
- All startups are a wreck on the inside. The art is looking serene and calm on the outside.
- Being your own boss means you get to choose your own hours — all 24 of them every day.
- In the words of Facebook, move fast and break things. You can’t afford to move slowly if you have a good idea.
- Never settle for working with people who are anything less than excellent in their field of expertise.
What are the online resources that you can’t live without?
We’ve grown our own customer base hugely by trying to provide useful resources, so I will shamelessly plug an important part of the GoSquared business: our marketing and design resources.
Enough of the self-promotion! Here are some of my favorite sites and services:
- Dribbble for design inspiration
- Groove blog
- Slack, which transformed how we communicate at GoSquared
- Trello for staying organizing