First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Eric Silverman: Thank you for asking, we are all good and playing it safe.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded FeaturePeek.
Eric Silverman: I’ve been really fortunate to have founded FeaturePeek with my best friend, Jason Barry. We both started our careers at Apple, and then we were both at a SaaS startup a few years ago, and noticed that every night or two before the release, the product team and designers start chiming in on our staging environments, saying, “Oh, this isn’t really what I meant.” We built FeaturePeek to give developers a better way to get feedback from UI/UX teams and to make it convenient for designers and product managers to review and leave feedback on front-end code.
How does FeaturePeek innovate?
Eric Silverman: FeaturePeek is an engineering-driven company. Both of our founders, Jason and I, are primarily software developers, with Jason being a Front-end engineer. On top of that, our product is a collaboration tool for software development teams. And so it makes sense that the way FeaturePeek innovates is very much grounded in the structure and process of how software development teams work. Jason and I are both very active in engaging with current FeaturePeek users for feedback on product direction and gauge interest in new features.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Eric Silverman: We’re a little unique from other startups during COVID, in that we announced a funding round in May. So FeaturePeek is better positioned to weather the pandemic from a financial perspective than many other startups right now. We moved to working 100% remotely, which was a change for us. Thankfully, our daily team standup gives us an opportunity to socialize with the team, as well as sync on any ongoing activities. And we’re heavily reliant on our tools, of course, we’re heavy FeaturePeek Teams users, but we’re also regularly using Slack, Loom, GitHub Issues, Clubhouse, Airtable, Slite, Copper CRM, and other tools to stay connected.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Eric Silverman: One difficult decision we made during the course of the pandemic was deciding to hire our first Head of Marketing, Brad Johnson. While it was a unique experience to have the whole of the interview process occur over video conferencing solutions, ultimately the criteria for the decision was the same as it would have been under normal conditions. It was challenging to grow the team during this summer, but a good lesson to always be moving forward with your goals.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and FeaturePeek in the future?
Eric Silverman: At FeaturePeek, we really wanted to enforce a culture of work-life balance, and one way I’ve been able to do that is to continue pursuing my artistic interests as a musician. While running a startup requires a ton of focus and dedication, I’ve found that I bring my better self to all aspects of my life when I am taking care of my whole person, and not just working 24/7.
Looking forward to the future, we know that for FeaturePeek to succeed we need to listen to our users and be aware of how collaboration, development, and teamwork are evolving and changing in our increasingly connected world.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Eric Silverman: What’s so powerful about FeaturePeek is that it solves two important pain points for UI/UX developers. Firstly, we’ve simplified how developers create and deploy to front-end staging environments, which could otherwise be accomplished using platforms like Netlify or Heroku. We’re unique in being the only platform-agnostic deployment preview solution, so our users aren’t locked into using a specific hosting provider or service. Secondly, we’ve layered on the FeaturePeek UI collaboration tool, which makes it convenient for designers and product managers to leave visual QA feedback in-context. Tools like BugHerd make it possible to record collaborator feedback about websites, but not for staged deployments. And FeaturePeek goes further than solutions like BugHerd because it unifies staging and visual QA into a single, user-friendly experience that’s accessible to both developers and non-developers.
Your final thoughts?
Eric Silverman: Software developers have never been more important or held more leverage in the workplace. And so collaboration tools made for developers, like FeaturePeek, are where you’re going to find the next Slack or Zoom, the unicorn that changes the way the world works and communicates. By focusing on delivering value for UI/UX teams, and ensuring that FeaturePeek users are the happiest front-end developers in the world, we’re confident that the FeaturePeek story will continue to grow.