Search for anything you need more than once

Published on
January 2nd, 2023
The makers of History Search are almost ready to launch their newest product despite facing their biggest challenge to date: working in Ukraine during war.
The Product Hunt community loves a life hack, especially one that helps you be more productive with your favorite tech.
That made History Search an obvious choice to receive a Golden Kitty Award in 2018 for Best Life Hack.
History Search started as an easy way to pull up the things that you’ve searched, from documents to articles. Now “Webscape,” the product has been iterated into a search engine for anything you visit more than once.
How Webscape got started
As a computer scientist, founder Martijn Verbove had worked on search tools before. On a personal level, he loves productivity. His experiences got him thinking about how tools for discovery are abundant, but users are usually left on their own after that. People needed a good way to find the things they had searched for later, he thought. That’s when History Search was born.
“As we rolled that out, Product Hunt was instrumental in getting initial users and feedback. We actually learned that the most active users entered an average of 13 searches per day. This surprised us because we initially built it to avoid the pain of not being able to find something again. We talked to users and discovered they were actually using History Search to navigate their workspace because it saved time, removed unnecessary clicking around, and reduced distraction.
With this acquired insight, we doubled down on a massive opportunity (a search engine for navigating the workspace). To scale up, our team raised a round from Acecap, Possible Ventures, Jon Oringer, Edwardo, Charlie Songhurst and we began building Webscape. The coolest thing is that it was the Product Hunt community that helped us grow and learn more than we could ever imagine. Without you guys, we wouldn't be where we are today.”
I asked Martijn for more details on what’s new about Webscape, and he told me that the core product is similar but faster, which is not a feat to brush over. While indexing some types of content is easy, others not so much. Like Google Docs for example — "You don’t want to update that doc on every keystroke,” Martijn explained. “We build for solutions like that.”
Webscape also has more control and permissions, like commands to quickly open a G-Doc. “All of the stuff we’ve built into your browser goes beyond the searching of history,” said Martijn. “Webscape gives users one unified workspace to quickly do things like retrieve information, navigate menus, deep diving into settings, or perform repetitive tasks (like setting up meetings or creating calendar events).”
On that note, there are also more competitors in the space today, but most of them function quite differently.
“Our approach to applying search engine crawling technology is still unique. Web Clipper, for example, clips your whole page to save it somewhere. With Raycast and Command E, you’re limited to specific integrations. Raycast takes an interesting approach by letting app devs build their own integrations and creating an extension marketplace. [In contrast,] we’re still a search engine that works through crawling, but you are the bot.”
Unexpected challenges
Solving for tech issues or taking on the competition are things almost any startup has to deal with.
The extreme physical and mental challenges of war is not. But when Russia invaded Ukraine at the start of 2022, that became a reality of life and work for the Webscape team.
“We were all based and living in Kiev,” Martijn said. “People on the team had to relocate to western Ukraine or out of the country.”
Earlier this year, Martijn teamed up with other Ukraine-based makers to create Help Ukraine Win, a collection of resources and information to help foreigners support Ukrainians. It became one of the most upvoted products of the year.
As a Dutch national, Martijn was able to relocate and is now living safely with his Ukrainian partner in Portugal. However, four of his Ukrainian teammates remain, dealing with disruptions in their daily work on top of stress and constant uncertainty.
“Power is a recent challenge. For example, we had to buy power units, get them shipped, and send them to someone who will drive them across the border and bring them where they need to be.”
When I asked Martijn if there is anything else the community can do to support Ukrainian startups, he shared, “The easiest way is to check out those products. The teams are exemplary. People are working from basements, with bad reception, and aren’t giving up. It’s really admirable. Some of them are even still starting companies in this space.”
You’ll have an opportunity to support Webscape more shortly (if you were an early supporter, you might have already received an invite to try it). The newest product currently has 25,000 users on the waitlist, with hundreds of early adopters in beta. Martijn said they’re excited to share more “very soon.”
This story is a feature for our Golden Kitty Awards 2021 Hall of Fame. Read more like it here.
Published on
January 2nd, 2023
Comments (3)
Hassaan Bassam
Growth, Strategy, Copywriting
This is massively helpful. Never knew there is a tool for that. Just requested for access but got a 502. Hoping to use it once it's public.
alex smith
i am digital work
Great info! thanks for sharing this.
Aria Garyn
Co founder
Looking very helpfull