Interview with Georg Hansbauer (Co-founder of Testbirds)
Testbirds s a mobile crowdtesting company.
Why are you building this start up? What does it do?
Our company Testbirds focuses on testing apps for mobile devices, smartphones and web applications. By using the concept of “crowd-testing” Testbirds can supply a large pool of testers, with a myriad of different combinations of devices and operating systems on a short term basis. The crowd finds bugs and offers valuable advice, tips and suggestions for the usability improvement of your software.
Together with Philipp and Markus (other two co-founders), we considered and evaluated many different business ideas for a long time. However we’ve never tried to put ourselves under the time pressure. For example, we intensively pursued a concept for mobile payment but finally decided against it for various reasons. Around October time in 2011, I came up with the idea of crowd-testing. Time and time again, software projects continue to fail because they are simply “bugged”. Despite every developer claiming that testing is important, very few of them make time for it. Due to this, we had the idea of offering testing as an external service. Finally after several rounds of brainstorming, we could associated this idea with the concept of crowdsourcing, arriving to the idea of crowd-testing.
After a short time it was clear that this idea was promising and feasible, mainly due to the app market being currently one of the fastest growing markets today. The field of web applications is already a very large market with tremendous potential for testing.
For other teams out there, we like to ask advice of founders building technology companies For example, what does a product marketing team need to understand from engineering about how to sell the products?
For Testbirds, we do not necessary sell products such as apps or software. Instead we focus on being an IT business that provides services to our customers using our own platform. In this case, it is not so much the emphasis of the product marketing team’s understanding, but the sales team. It’s crucial that the sales team work closely with the engineering team, so they understand the kind of things we develop and what we can offer to our clients. As a result, our sales team needs keep up to date with the latest engineering developments and have a good understanding of the IT environment. Similarly, it is also vital that our project management and engineering team have strong communication, to ensure our platform can cater for our customers. As a result, the three teams meet and discuss very regularly, so they know what is and isn’t possible, and how it can be supported.
What impact do you hope to make in this market and 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. With over 50,000 new apps per month in the Apple Store, you need not only a working app but an easy to use function in order to really stand out from the crowd. I believe we can help achieve that now and in the future. I definitely think there is a need out there for this type of service. Our customers already range from start-ups through to agencies as well as many large corporate companies. At Testbirds we believe it’s imperative to listen to our clients in order to make impact, which is why we try to make each project as individual as possible. We only hope to continue to work and provide a flexible service with the different types of businesses out there for the future.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a business in your country?
For our business model, quality plays the big decisive role in our team. Especially in Germany, it’s important for us to hold close customer contact and provide quality in all our customer results. To start a business in Germany, the key is to ensure you provide a product or service that really delivers on what you promise. For our case this is quality assurance. This, combined with flexibility and a strong team community has helped our business take off in Germany. However, we’re also understanding the important success factors in other countries too, especially now that we are expanding and internationalising to the UK and Netherlands.
How do you work with investors, or do you currently use any outside money at all?
When we first started out, we were funded for one year by the EXIST-up grant from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Half a year after our launch, we developed a strong relationship with our investors, the WALTER Beteiligungen and Immobilien AG (a medium-sized family business).
During our search for an investor, one of our requirements was to ensure that our start-up business could have our own operational freedom. This was important when working with our investors in order to gain their trust, but to also develop at the speed we needed to. We work very closely with our investors, where we constantly update them on any progress regarding strategic movement, financial forecasts and changes to our business plans. It is important for us to always have their support and to maintain a close relationship. As a result we work hard to plan regular meetings to ensure strong communication.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team or using software?
For us, Microsoft and the BizSpark program was a great door opener for building the scale of our business and our team. All the software provided by BizSpark program really helped us to get started. Furthermore, we’ve also worked together with Microsoft on regular occasions where we were able to meet influential people in the ecosystem, attend trade shows and test new applications. An entrepreneur turning to Microsoft for help obviously all depends on your business models, but for us Microsoft offered a wide range of opportunities.