QA on Request is a web and software testing company.
The company specializes in testing mobile apps, web sites, video games and software projects during the development phase, making sure they’re bug free and ready for launch.
Co-founder, Simon Papineau says that QA on Request is unique because they provide their services at any time of the day with very little advanced notice required. This helps developers optimize their development process by getting their projects tested at a time that is most convenient for them.
The company was started in the summer of 2011. Simon started QA on Request out of a desire to solve a problem that he’d struggled with in the past. “In previous companies, I always pushed to have an internal team of testers,” says Simon. “But somehow we could never manage to get our projects tested properly because as a deadline is getting closer, programmers tend to finish their work later and later at night, making it a total nightmare to manage your testing team’s schedule.”
Simon found that they were losing significant time when testing had to take place the next day. “When you finally got results from the testing team later that day, the programmers were already working on something else and going back to fix things caused delays and confusion,” he said.
Larger companies often have testing teams in different time zones, which allows them to test things more quickly, but small and medium sized companies may not be able to do that. Simon says that they started looking at how to crowdsource testing, and eventually combined that with a more traditional testing house model to maximize efficiency and coverage.
NextMontreal: Who are the founders and what are your backgrounds?
Simon: I got the ball rolling on my own, and eventually called on a small number of close friends to join me. My background is in gaming and in mobile.
The other partners in the company – Alain Chabot-Denis, Maxim Savard, and Shervin Salami – and I have known each other since our teenage years. We’ve all worked in mobile and in video games at one point or another, and we were all testers at one point or another as well.
NextMontreal: Is this the first startup for all the founders?
Simon: QA on Request is my second startup. I previously founded and subsequently sold a web and mobile development studio called we+are interactive. During my tenure, the company built a number of great interactive projects such as the Android version of Tou.tv, SidLee’s website in HTML5, and RestoMontreal for iPhone, quite popular amongst Montrealers.
The other guys are taking their first journey into the startup world with me.
NextMontreal: How does the service work?
Simon: The service is designed to be ridiculously easy to use.
As a developer all you need to do is fill out a form indicating everything we need to know about your project: target hardware, target OS version, the kinds of tests required, any additional relevant information, and the deadline by which you need the results.
Your request is then sent to our internal team of testers. In most cases we perform the work directly. However, if none of us are available to take on your project before the specified deadline, or if we need extra help, it is then sent to our network of qualified testers, one of whom is bound to be available to perform the work requested before your deadline.
So all a customer has to do is sit back and wait for the test reports to come in. Or customers can also keep track of our progress in the bug base to see how the next day of work is shaping up
NextMontreal: Are you focused primarily on the game industry?
Simon: Absolutely not. In fact, we’ve been testing mostly web sites and mobile applications to-date.
NextMontreal: What’s the competition like?
Simon: The big dog in our industry is a company called uTest. They’re based in Silicon Valley and they’ve already gone through several rounds of VC funding. They’ve built a community of 50,000 testers worldwide and they use a “pay per bug” model. This model is great for large projects that need a lot of users to thoroughly test every nut and bolt of an interactive product.
Then there are the traditional testing houses, like Babel Media or Bug-Tracker in Montreal. These guys have been around for a while and we’re very envious of their client list.
NextMontreal: What’s your key differentiator against competition?
Simon: One key differentiator is speed. You come to our website, submit a test request, and have results sent to you within a few hours. No other company offers that.
Another is flexibility.
In a lot of cases, when working with a traditional testing house, you first have to speak to a representative of the company to get a quote. This representative will typically try to sell you a large number of testing hours, and then require that you specify in advance a time and a date for when your project will be ready for testing. If that time comes and your project isn’t ready, well tough luck, the clock is ticking.
With QA on Request, you can send a test request whenever you project is ready, no matter what time that is.
NextMontreal: What are your thoughts on services like UserTesting.com?
Simon: UserTesting.com is great and every developer should use it. Usability testing is different from what we do in the sense that it pertains to determining the best layout and navigation scheme for your interactive product from a typical user’s point of view. This really should be accomplished as early as possible in the development process and it shouldn’t be neglected.
Today’s web and software users have a ridiculously short attention span – if they cannot find what they are looking for in seconds, they’re gone. Every developer has made the mistake of developing a project for himself – making it absolutely unusable for others in the process. UserTesting.com can be an eye-opener in that sense.
I would say that UserTesting.com is very compatible with what we do – it’s all about building better software.
NextMontreal: What’s a typical project look like / what’s the scale?
Simon: Our niche so far has been on the smaller side. Our average client right now requires something like 5 to 8 hours of testing per day for 3-4-5 consecutive days when a project is nearing completion.
But as we build our reputation and our network of testers, the scope of our projects will certainly grow. We’re grateful for the small-er size of projects to date, they’ve helped us adjust and improve our platform as we get ready for the big leagues.
NextMontreal: Do you think you can replace a company’s testing department completely, or really serve as a support infrastructure for them, to help in emergencies?
Simon: Your question implies that a company has a testing department to begin with. A lot of small companies don’t.
Nevertheless, the beauty of our service is that we can be both – a company’s one and only partner if its testing needs are sporadic, or a little bit of extra help when its internal team is overwhelmed or would like a fresh pair of eyes to counter tester fatigue and bring a fresh perspective to a project near completion.
As both a tester and a project manager, I would definitely recommend that all development companies have an internal team of testers. But as an entrepreneur, I am very much aware of the logistical and financial challenges of hiring testers full-time; hence QA on Request.
NextMontreal: What have you learned so far building QA on Request?
Simon: Gosh, where to begin?
I think the most important lesson has been: listen to your clients. We originally built our platform a certain way, but once we put it in the hands of a few friends and potential partners, they were like: “Well, how do I do [this] ?” or “Where is [this] information?”
So we went back to the drawing board. We’re continuously doing this in fact. We’re very much aware that our early adopters’ satisfaction is critical to our success – so whatever they’ve asked for so far, we’ve made our top priority – holding off on our internal list of priorities even.
The second thing has been to surround ourselves with people who can challenge us and force us to think outside the box. QA on Request as you’re discovering it now is only loosely based on our original business plan – it has evolved so much. For the better, obviously.
And that’s all thanks to the many discussions we’ve had with fellow entrepreneurs and/or interactive software developers.
The third thing has been perseverance.
We were really excited at the beginning of this venture. Then the development of the platform began lagging behind and it was proving more difficult than we originally anticipated.
Add to that the fact that we weren’t getting the help we had hoped for from the various initiatives offering help to young entrepreneurs, at a point we got worried – like any entrepreneur probably would. We kept knocking on doors and all we got was “do you have sales? No? Well come back when you do.”
But in the end that just fuelled our desire to make it big with this company. And the response so far has been incredible.
NextMontreal: What can we expect in the next 6 months or so?
Simon: We have a 3-year plan that will take us from working with independent web and software development companies to helping out the big guys in Montreal with their testing. So if all goes according to plan you should expect steady growth and an increasing number of testimonials on our website.
We’ll also be adding complementary services to our offering when time allows us to. There’s only so many hours in a day…