How PostHog started

PostHog was founded by James and Tim on January 23rd, 2020.

We both started working on a startup in August 2019.

The first idea (to help engineers manage technical debt) didn't work out, but we realized the power of treating growth as an engineering problem. Yet, we also knew that many engineers struggle to know their impact on their users.

There are plenty of product analytics tools out there, but all the alternatives are SAAS based. Whilst they are very powerful, they are frustrating for developers for a few reasons:

  • We didn't want to send all our user data to 3rd parties.
  • It's frustrating to integrate with a tool that charges on usage - you've no idea what it will end up costing, even if it starts out free.
  • We wanted full underlying data access.

The launch

We got into YCombinator's W20 batch, and just a couple of weeks after starting realized that we needed to build PostHog.

We launched on Hacker News with our MVP, just 4 weeks after we started writing code.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. We had over 300 deployments in a couple of days. 2 weeks later, we'd gone past 1,500 stars on GitHub.

What we learned

Since then, we've realized that the same reasons that PostHog was appealing to us as individual developers are the reasons why many enterprise customers also find the software is very appealing. We got a lot of inbound demand, and realized we weren't just onto a cool sideproject, we were onto what could be a huge company.