A little over a year ago, I started as the first and only UX researcher at a cybersecurity startup called Barkly. I came on board part-time in January 2016 when the company was around 25 people and the product wasn’t even yet in beta, let alone launched. It’s unusual for a startup to care at all about having a full-time researcher and I was intrigued that they wanted to hire my position on the team.
Without a ton of users to research would I really have anything to do?
Not everyone had worked with a researcher before, and I was brought to Barkly by a designer I used to work with at HubSpot. He and I knew how things were done at HubSpot, but an early stage startup doesn’t have the same needs or challenges as a global public company. I found things that worked at HubSpot didn’t work at Barkly, and vice versa. I also realized I had the opportunity to build the research role the way I wanted, not swimming upstream against ingrained practices that are hard to undo.
And even though we had no product, my fears were unfounded because there was plenty for me to do. Fast forward a year later, we have grown as a company, released a product, and learned a ton along the way. A lot happened in the last 13 months. I had a hand in getting us there and wanted to share what I did in my first year as the only researcher at a startup.