The idea for Crowd-sourced Software Testing was running in my mind for more than a year at VMLogix. After working as a software testing in Oracle for 3 years, I jumped to a smaller company called Webmethods for a year. I was thinking that SOA would be the next big thing after enterprise databases, but this market also was consolidated by IBM. So after working for one year at WebMethods, I got the chance to work at a smaller virtualization startup called VMLogix which competed with VMWare. The journey from databases, to webservices and then to virtualization was quite a ride. Working in a startup was an experience that eventually lead to starting up of 99tests. Insights for starting up of 99tests could never have been possible for me while working in a large enterprise firm. The key insight was that there are always bugs reported by customers, due to real world conditions of browsers, OS’s and IT departments. The second key insight was that there would be one testers who reported an order of magnitude more bugs than other testers. Just as they say that a good developer is 100x more productive than an average developer, the same is true with a software tester. So having a layer of testing outside the company walls and rewarding testers who contribute the most led to the idea of 99tests. But this was just an idea for more than a year, then one day in May 2010 started searching for domain names, after a 6 hour search for combinations of Crowd, Testing, Cloud & Test at 2.00 am finally got the domain 99tests.
In the mean time, having joined Alex Osterwalder’s Business model hub, learned about Multi-Sided business model and mapped the 99tests model on a canvas, then wrote a plan and submitted to a business plan competition. But we did not make it to the finals. So the idea was still an idea for quite some time. Finally after 6 months VMLogix was acquired by Citrix and this gave a chance to take the leap and start-up. Now with only an idea, started to look for a developer, posted a job on pluggdin startupq&a and got a response from a rails developer and we started working. We took about a month to build the application on rails. To start testing we needed a web product, so I called up Shashank the founder of Practo, they quickly setup a instance with test data and shared few user accounts. we then sent out an email to our small group of testers who had signup earlier. Next we left our desks, after an hour I get a call from our developer saying “did you check the app?”, I replied not yet and checked, we had over 10 testers who had logged over 20 bugs in the first hour, this was the moment that all the ideas, work and theory hit the real world and it was unbelievable to see the result. The testing continued for the next week and lots of amazing bugs were reported. We had found our community.
The next few months were exciting get customers from all over the world, in the mean time we applied to themorpheus.com with over two hundred ideas and teams competing we made it through to get seed funding but more importantly the guidance of Sameer and Nandini. we were part of the gang and were exposed to lots of startups in the same stage were in at that time. Our community then tested a variety of application from mobile apps, social networking games to conferencing applications. along the way we created a growing community with very talented testers who are very competitive, the magic of crowdsourcing was a great fit to software testing. The more the number of testers and more the diversity, the better results were seen in amazing bugs for our clients. This benefited our customers and also our testers who skills was rapidly raising after competing at a national platform.
But all was not well for too long, we had differences with our rails developer and we parted ways, so the next few months were very tough in maintaining the rails application, running the community and getting customers. We posted a rails developer job description at Hasgeek job board and our blog which was tweeted 140+ times. After three months we found Arvind who is very passionate about Rails and OpenSource, he wanted to join a startup to follow his passion for rails after working for about 5 years in the Indian IT Industry. After a long time 99tests was in good hands and looking for some killer features. In the mean time we had a few innovative ideas and started to get high paying customers who were very passionate about the quality of their product.
In the last year we have we presented about 99tests at BugDeBug, Headstart, Unpluggd, themorphues demo day & Global Super Angles 2011. 99tests today has more than 2000 testers who have logged around 10,000 bugs and 20+ paying customers who absolutely love our platform. We have just started on our journey of rewarding passionate testers. This has been the biggest impact, to make a difference in the lives of software testers who are situated in remote corners of the world and are able to bring their talent to a global audience through 99tests.