I'm James Gill, Co-Founder and CEO of GoSquared. AMA!

Hi Bridget!

Thanks so much for stopping by – it’s an honour to see you here asking away!

What we’ve been that’s making the most difference to businesses during the COVID crisis

We’ve been incredibly reluctant to shout too much during this crisis. I believe that for most people, the last thing they want is another email from another CEO explaining how much they care.

I care, deeply. And I feel so so deeply for the people on the front lines, and for the people in far worst situations than me right now. Heck, my sister is on an NHS ICU ward right now in her PPE helping to keep people alive. When I talk to her, I feel… so removed from the reality of what is going on.

So this has pushed me to re-evaluate how much I can help – I can’t begin to help in the ways that others can. But, can we help in our own small way? Hell yes.

So we have been reaching out to customers that we know are struggling, and working with them – especially those that are less technical, to see if they need help on the tech side.

But primarily, to be blunt the single biggest thing that we have been able to do to help our customers has been offering them discounts and free service to get them through this. We know our platform can help them, and we can’t survive forever by giving GoSquared away for free. But we don’t want customers to worry that their GoSquared bill is another problem. We can remove that from their list of problems.

We firmly believe that it’s the right thing to do for the customers that are struggling, and we know they can make it through this, and we can’t wait to return to normal with them. We’re in it together.

What businesses have been doing that has impressed me

I find it a lot easier to look at the ones that have not impressed me.

It makes me feel physically sick to see how many mainstream brands have jumped on the opportunity to make us feel squishy inside about them, by sharing heartwarming video calls of normal people getting through this, and chucking their brand name at the end of the ad. I’m looking at you, Facebook.

I also admire Google and Apple for the work there doing on contact tracing APIs. I wish it could move faster, and from the outside, it seems their skills in marketing and communication could be better used to tell the world what they’re doing and why.

There are probably many more brands I want to list here, but it’s been a long day and I am struggling to think straight!

Big risks in the next 6-12 months

I think the biggest risk to me is the question of how long this goes on for. I don’t think any of us know, and I don’t think anyone can say until there’s a vaccine widely available.

Everything gets a lot easier for everyone if they have more certainty about how long lock down will be, how long the world will be tipped upside down for. I can see the world gradually finding balance again, but I think we’ll be redefining “normal”, and we’ll be a long way from that definition of normal for at least the rest of the year.

I hope that comes vaguely close to doing your questions justice, Bridget. Keen to expand further if you have any questions on this!

Thanks as always :raised_hands:


Hi Neil!

I love this question!

To move to SF or not? I have asked myself the question too many times to count.

I’ve been to SF many times, and I always feel inspired by the place – to be around the giants, and the companies we all look up to. It’s always refreshing to see, at the end of the day, these great businesses are made up of people, just like the people in London. They’re all humans, they’re not some mythical creature.

A few factors for us as to why we’re in London:

  • We love London, it’s always been my home.
  • I don’t currently want to live in SF – I much prefer London as a place to be(!)
  • The costs of being in SF for office space, living, and hiring are astronomically higher.
  • Our reduced dependence on investment means we don’t feel we’d take maximum value of the ecosystem there.
  • Everyone’s currently locked in their homes behind a Zoom video call. It’s never mattered less where you are in the world.
  • I believe the future of work doesn’t give a damn about geography.

Hope this helps! And v keen to expand further if you like!



Hi Lucky, thanks so much for this question – it’s a great one!

Absolutely – analytics is an incredibly crowded market!

As I have alluded to with other answers here, we try not to pay too much attention about categorisation, and we try to focus our energy on understanding our customer needs better than anyone else can.

Analytics is where we started – many many moons ago.

Back then, the world of analytics was very different. I don’t know if I even knew what “SaaS” stood for!

Back then, web analytics was hit logging tools, greyscale graphs, Flash charts, daily processing jobs, and horrid interfaces.

We always believed it could be better, so we built our first Analytics product – LiveStats – to show you in real-time who was on your website. To remind you that every visitor to your website is a human, not a bot.

That human element, combined with the real-time, fluid interface, was what got people’s attention early on. It was so different to what came before it, that it was barely considered an analytics tool – it was something entirely different.

I hope this helps for now! Happy to expand further, Lucky!


Hi Anush, thanks so much for this question – I love it!

There have been so many evolutions in our many years of business – I always need to cut some to ensure I don’t speak all day!

When we first started GoSquared we were building websites for other people, and trying many ideas out. It was only when we built our first Analytics product – Live Stats – that people started to get excited. We finally knew we’d found something that people wanted!

Key evolutions were really around each product we’ve built as part of the platform: Live Chat, Customer Data Hub, and soon, Automation.

Each evolution has been primarily driven by our desire to do a better job for our customers, and responding to the ever changing markets we operate in.

Our early adopters have always been (and continue to be) technically minded – often folks that build website for fun, and get a kick out of new technology. These people are picky, and we love that.

What has been difficult is assessing who our early adopters are – who are the product obsessives that try everything new we build, that give us hugely valuable product feedback, and who are our core customers – the people and businesses that drive the commercial side of the business. They’re not necessarily the same, but are both essential for us to build a great platform and a great business.


Hi Jeremy, thanks so much for this question!

It’s funny, I was talking to our head of marketing today about this very topic.

One thing that I realised on the call – I have never referred to them as “channels”. I don’t know if I am just delirious or if I am speaking any sense at this point, but I have often found channels to be a misleading way to look at our marketing mix.

Because, if we look at our “content marketing” channel – I would say as a whole that’s been the bedrock of our growth from the start. But within that channel, only a few things have worked, and then a whole lot of it has been totally useless and wasted effort and energy.

So as a channel, content has been great, but that obviously doesn’t mean “do more content!” – it means, to me, we need to establish exactly what actions and projects we should take on within the broad channel of content that work.

A few things that don’t work for us (or, I believe, anyone):

  • Getting people to write about topics they’re not deeply familiar with.
  • Hoping people will read a blog post and adopt our product in the same session.
  • Pushing visitors to convert too early.
  • Writing “SEO” content without a substantial good human readable core.
  • Telling ourselves that anything in content will have fast or obvious results.

A few things that have worked for us:

  • Building a trusted name, that is synonymous with quality.
  • Taking customer questions and support requests as a source of inspiration for blog content.
  • Asking customers where they heard about us, rather than relying on cookies.
  • Running a weekly newsletter for over 200 issues.
  • Sharing other people’s content, not just our own.
  • Building an inherently viral product – every customer can drive 100s more.
  • Continuing to find time for the founders to write and contribute to our content efforts.
  • Never letting our quality bar slip on content, writing, design.
  • Building a network of awesome people, and helping them, building trust, and only sharing what we believe will be valuable to their network rarely.
  • Working really really really hard.

I hope this helps a little Jeremy, of course happy to expand in any way you want here :wink:


Thanks so much for your kind words, Ravi!

I feel under qualified to offer you too many answers on these questions, Ravi, but I’ll do my best to share my own experiences here, and you’re free to take whatever you want from them!

Converting doers into thinkers

I feel very fortunate to have an amazing team around me.

I have not previously made this separation between thinkers and doers as I believe the two can coexist within one person.

I am more familiar with going from a “maker” to a “manager” – a process I have been through with mixed results.

I think first, as I alluded to in answering another question, not everyone wants to be anything other than a doer – they want to be freaking amazing doer, and ideally you can accommodate that.

In terms of having great managers, I think the best advice to start that I have been given is “manage yourself first” – most of us struggle with that, so we end up making pretty poor managers of other people.

I also would say that my approach to managing people is to aim to set a vision and goals as clearly as possible (they can always be clearer), and to be there to listen, and to address the blockers people face from achieving those goals. Other than that, I try to get the hell out of the way.

Early on I mad too many mistakes by getting too involved, by mixing the making and the managing. You have to learn to let go – I am still learning this.

Finding great people to join you

It is always a challenge to attract talented people. I spend a lot of my time talking with people a lot smarter than me. I think most founders hope hiring will happen very quickly, but I look at companies like Stripe, and take a lot from their philosophy on hiring – good people are not usually looking for a job.

So finding good people for roles relies on having a big existing network of really great people. And you don’t build that over night. So in terms of finding and persuading people to join your team, I would look less at the money, and more at your network, and your own vision and why it’s so compelling that the smartest people you can think of should join.

When you’re small and early, the biggest thing you can offer is the potential of what could be – if you can’t sell that convincingly either to others or to yourself, then I’d push to figure that out, before worrying about the financial constraints. The smartest people definitely have financial needs, as do we all, but they will also need to understand the upside and risks of joining you.

Hope this is valuable – let me know if I can expand further, Ravi.


Thanks James for the thoughtful and open response.


Thank you for sharing all these learnings. I definitely understand.
Congrats on playing “the long game” and getting the results of all these efforts.


Hi Krish, I am so sorry for not getting back to this question until now – I hope you can forgive me. I know it’s a slow one, but I really wanted to respond because it’s a great question!

I think we made a lot of mistakes in our early days where we hired people that weren’t more senior than ourselves, and so we all ended up making a lot of mistakes together – it’s never a good situation when you run into problems for the first time yourself, and it’s very refreshing when you have people on the team who have “seen it all before” and can at least offer guidance on how to tackle problems, so you’re not always learning from scratch with every issue that comes up.

I think key to bringing experienced people in is to treat them as such – there’s no point bringing amazing, experienced people in and then to tell them how to do their jobs(!)

So underlying this, for me, it’s really critical to have the “foundations” solid:

  • The goals of the company
  • At least a short to mid term plan
  • The roles and responsibilities and how they break down between everyone – avoid overlap and gaps
  • To always assume good intent – it helps when anyone screws up (and we all do)

And in terms of existing team members, it depends on the roles and who is in what position. I think it’s very hard when / if you need to hire someone “above” an existing team member, but hopefully this never comes as a surprise to either party.

Also – if you’re bringing on anyone more experienced – this is almost certainly a step in the right direction, assuming they’ve been hired based on the right decisions and rationale. So everyone on the team should be thrilled – it’s someone to learn from, to gain experiences from.

Somewhat tangential, but I also think there is tremendous value in the early days of any business in naivety – in not knowing everything. That naivety can drive radically different thinking and seemingly crazy bets, and that thinking, and lack of “playing it safe” can be as transformative as it can be dangerous. It’s great if there can be a balance of naivety and experience, and for an appreciation on both sides of what the other brings to the table.


Hi Anushree,

I am so sorry for not responding to this sooner – I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave any of these questions unanswered, and my weekend got in the way. I hope you can forgive me!

Re SMB marketing priorities I think some of the changes have been pretty clear to me:

  • Ditching budgets for in person events.
  • Re-evaluating whether those budgets made sense in the first place – only time will tell. My opinion is that in person events will always be an effective channel and have been put on pause, but will perhaps change in focus.
  • Adoption of Zoom / webinar software to do more online video – particularly for education to existing customers.
  • Further push towards “Product Led Growth (PLG)” for SaaS business, because folks are forced to not have in person meetings, and a lot of traditional sales pipelines are far less predictable than before.
  • A lot of people in SMBs – whether founders or marketing folks – no longer have a commute. I personally have seen this as a tremendous opportunity to look at how I spend my time, be more creative, and also more deliberate with where I spend my morning time.

I think “post COVID” is a long way away, and I think we will not return to “normal” – we will have seen a forced push into the future on a lot of marketing approaches.

Some stuff will be different, but the stuff that was good, that was genuine, is always timeless: building something people want, being authentic, obsessing over your customers, making something so great they tell others about, getting people to not just buy, but to LOVE your product.

Hope this helps, Anushree!


Thank you so much @jamesgill for finding time to share such a thoughtful response! :slight_smile:


Hey @jamesgill,

Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer all the questions in such a generous and candid way. Akash and I have been marveling over the depth and substance in your responses. Absolute gold here!

I loved your perspective on using the product internally to build empathy; and your point about why culture is a lot more than free beer and ping pong tables resonated very deeply with us.

Thank you, again, for sharing your lessons and insights with us. So glad we could host you!

And a big, big thanks to your sister for being on the front-line saving lives. Sending her all the strength and hope she stays safe. :raised_hands:

Hope to host you soon again. :zap:


Also, thank you @puneet, @JMah, @wingman4sales, @bridget, @lakshmikanth, @Anushree, @Jeremy, @raviramani, and @ncameron for joining in and asking some amazing questions.

Hope to have you join us for the upcoming AMAs as well. Stay tuned! :zap:


Hey James,

Love that! That’s an in-depth blog post of a response.

It’s a true pleasure and honor to host inspiring and generous founders like you. And your response shows such sincerity.

I absolutely agree. For us, too, a lot of those early mistakes spawned as a direct result of the process of understanding how deeply intertwined product and pricing really are. Also, there’s so much to learn from the inside-out way of thinking about categories and how it can cue us in to what really matters: serving and helping customers grow. To what extent companies pay heed and relegate decision-making to third-party definitions and references is certainly worth discerning.

And this is a truth we could all tape on our desks:

“I don’t think anything can replace first hand experience – no matter how well you think you understand your customers, you can always understand them better!”

And I can relate to this as someone who always built context about the customer problems by responding to support questions.

Thanks for sharing that thought and also the systems that GoSquared has instrumented to ensure that customer empathy has many sources to surface and prevail.

Thanks, again, for taking the time!