We have not seen something like this before -- company that took the idea for crowdsourcing and evolved the idea into testing software apps.
Philipp Benkler is CEO of Testbirds, a company that uses the crowd to test the viability for apps. At the moment, he's responsible for the company's international expansion plans, leading a mission that he hopes will help everyone developing apps for devices and the cloud. The idea came to him during a few brainstorm sessions with his founding team, as they were working on an idea for a crowdsourcing application.
"I was always keen on starting my own company. During my master studies of “Finance and Information Management“ we used to brainstorm business ideas regularly – until we came up with Testbirds," says Philipp.
"We had another idea that included crowdsourcing at some point. Georg, another founder, was frustrated with the software testing he had been doing, and at some point we just merged the problem with the solution."
Do you make reasonable predictions about how you are going to achieve revenue and then test them out, or do you start with a business model and deploy it, to see if it brings in revenue?
At Testbirds we believe it’s imperative to listen to our clients. When it comes to launching new business models or products we tend to do this very quickly in order to get immediate feedback from the market, rather than planning too much in advance. We tell our customers to test their software with their focus group before release and therefore do the same with our own products. Even though things can become quite overwhelming and stressful at times, I think this way you achieve customer satisfaction much quicker, at least in our line of business.
How much of what you are building is based on leaving a legacy and how much of it is based on technical challenges, or the ability to make something just for fun? In other words, where do you fall on the seriousness scale? For fun, for profit, for life?
For me, it’s a mixture of all those things. We didn’t start Testbirds in order to make a quick exit. In addition, we created revenue almost right from the start, which gave us another boost by confirming the market need is there. But most importantly, I want to have fun and enjoy what I’m doing. If that’s not the case anymore, something is definitely going wrong.
When did you decide that you were “startup material”? It must have been when I was still in college. I’ve done several internships at large companies like IBM, KPMG or Siemens and at some points just knew that I wanted to create something myself. Testbirds then was the results of a long process trying to come up with different business ideas.
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
Everything is going mobile at the moment. The challenge is to raise the level of software quality even higher. We intend to be an integral part of this process by enabling companies to use the power of the crowd.
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
All the software we could use thanks to the BizSpark program was a major help getting started. Since then, we’ve worked together with Microsoft on a fairly regular basis meeting influencers in the industry, going to trade shows and testing new applications.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
I think it depends on the business model, but there’s such a wide range of offers that everybody should look into all the different possibilities. We found the BizSpark program to be a great door opener for making connections and exploring new ideas.