First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Oren Rubin: We are doing pretty well, thanks! My wife and I had our first child at the start of the pandemic, so working from home allowed me to see my baby girl grow in front of my eyes. Her first crawl. Her first laugh. Indeed, it’s been a fantastic experience.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Testim.
Oren Rubin: I developed software at companies, including IBM and Wix, felt the pressure to be more agile, to move faster, and was frustrated with how difficult and slow it was to create stable test automation. After working at Applitools, a startup focusing on stable visual validation of apps, I decided it was time to focus on the biggest challenge, test stability.
I founded Testim in late 2014. We initially concentrated on serving Israeli companies because that’s where I was living. I later moved to San Francisco to start ramping up the company. We now have around 50 people across the US, Canada, and Israel and continue to grow.
How does Testim innovate?
Oren Rubin: TL;DR – by working together.
Innovation comes when you have:
- Excellent understanding of the challenges (pains)
- A fantastic set of problem solvers
- Good connections to leading companies and thought leaders, to bounce ideas fast
- Ability to see the future (understand trends)
- The understanding that the definition of done is when the customer sees value, not when you release it.
- A passion toward risks, i.e., have the nerves to invest a lot in things that never been done before (and to boldly go where no one has gone before)
We have a great team of engineers, customer success, support, product, marketing, and sales. We work together to learn from our customer engagements and feed those ideas back into the product.
Dogfooding. We also have many engineers who experienced first-hand the difficulties our customers face when using automation frameworks, including our own. Our team has great ideas about how to make things easier and better.
Community. We also have engineers who are active in meetup groups, forums, and open-source projects that are related to our product area. These connections help us better understand the challenges and gaps in the market today.
We try to balance our engineering work to serve multiple purposes while creating a competitive advantage. For instance, we identify existing customers’ requirements to improve usability while gaining intel from our sales and product teams about prospective users’ needs and wants. We also have some longer-term big-hairy-audacious-goals that require ongoing investment and analysis.
We follow an agile model with short sprints and try to learn from each release and feed that back into the product. We have friends and customers who help provide that feedback. We also have a growing community on Slack that proves to be an excellent sounding board and idea pipeline.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Oren Rubin: Fortunately, from an internal perspective, we haven’t had any confirmed Coronavirus cases. We also work in software development, and our application is delivered as SaaS, enabling us to work remotely.
On the downside, we have seen budgets tighten at some of our customers and prospects. We have seen some smaller clients go out of business or decide they can’t afford to pay. To help struggling companies, we have introduced a free version of our product.
On the upside, we see more companies accelerating their adoption of test automation (probably impacted by hiring freezes and remote work).
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Oren Rubin: We did make some personnel adjustments. They are always difficult.
As I mentioned above, we have added new hires, including a VP of Product and a VP of Customer Success and a Head of Growth marketing, and enjoy excellent retention overall.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Testim in the future?
Oren Rubin: My new baby daughter keeps us busy and focused on our priorities. Or perhaps I should say, focused on her priorities. Regardless, she is a joy and a welcome distraction.
We protect the company by building a service that continually adds a lot of value to our customers. We continuously demonstrate that we are the long-term partner of choice for our customers. The more value we provide, the more we secure our relationships with our customers. Innovation is key to adding value.
We don’t just ask our employees to take our word for it. We want them to hear directly from customers and prospects. Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and Support meet with customers daily, but we also expect each engineer to have frequent meetings with our customers.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Oren Rubin: We have competitors in three categories:
– Classical test automation suites from companies like IBM, Micro Focus (HP), or CA. These products tend to different technologies used in old school enterprises, where the CTO decides what’s best for thousands of engineers in different cultures. They are also heavy and not very intuitive, so the learning curve is huge. None of them innovate on AI, but some have started to bolt-on AI modules lately. They tend to have a very long feedback cycle and a lot of technical debt, which slows them down.
– Open-source frameworks for those that prefer building over buying. They are robust infrastructure and useful but leveraging them for test automation means costly development and taking time away from developers building features.
– Modern, AI-based startups like Testim. We invest in innovation while being pragmatic and continually releasing new capabilities.
Testim fits into the third category. We deliver a SaaS with a modern interface that enables AI-based fast authoring of stable end-to-end tests. Our product is smarter and more flexible than our competitors.
Your final thoughts?
Oren Rubin: Software innovation is about quickly iterating to shorten release cycles and reduce the feedback loop. At Testim, we help customers remove the two most significant bottlenecks in releasing faster, slow authoring and flaky tests. It’s also how we operate internally. We create Testim tests to run against our application to give us quick feedback so we can release quickly.