UTest Brings Crowdsourced QA Testing to Early Stage Web Startups (We Have Discount Codes Too)

6/6/11Follow @xconomy

Southborough, MA-based uTest hit the market with its crowdsourced quality assurance testing service in a slightly unconventional order. UTest first introduced its “full strength” software-as-a-service for more mature, enterprise-level Web companies in 2008, and has nabbed big customers like Google, Microsoft, Intuit, Myspace, and Thomson Reuters. Clients indicate the type of testing they want, uTest sends it to its network of roughly 40,000 freelance testers, who report back on what bugs, if any, they find.

It moved into the mobile sphere for bigger enterprise customers in 2009, says uTest chief marketing officer Matt Johnston. Then, this spring, the startup first offered its uTest Express product to younger startups working on mobile apps. Finally, two weeks ago, uTest introduced a version of Express tailored for Web-based applications built by young, small startups.

“It’s a frictionless model,” says Johnston. “We can serve the lower end of the market very well and very profitably.”

UTest found that the biggest pain point for early stage startups, which typically have some seed funding and somewhere between two and twenty people on staff, was testing for mobile apps, Johnston says. The company rolled out the Express software first as a soft beta launch late last year, and officially at CTIA Wireless in March, mainly for entrepreneurs who hadn’t sought much testing for their mobile product beyond their close family and friends, and who also didn’t have the budget for in-house quality assurance. “It’s really about lightweight testing and app validation and real world feedback for validation,” Johnston says.

The mobile sphere also provided a more controlled market for uTest to study how its Express service worked out with customers, Johnston says. “Mobile apps tend to be tightly contained; a Web app can be vast,” he says. “We wanted to learn a little bit more about the market” before rolling out the Web testing service.

UTest Express can provide testing for things like extensions to existing software, Facebook games, Twitter plug-ins, and even standalone websites. The company also found there’s a very healthy market for Web-based apps, and that mobile doesn’t dominate just yet, Johnston says. “Mobile gets so much attention, it’s white hot,” he says. “It’s really interesting to see that Web is an order of magnitude larger as a market. As marketers we all drink the Kool Aid, but [mobile is] not necessarily the biggest deal when it comes to the present.”

UTest, which last September raised a $13 million Series C round led by Scale Venture Partners, ultimately plans to add a service for testing desktop software apps as well, to round out the company’s offerings, Johnston says. Its big focus now is functionality testing, but uTest is also looking into expanding into usability and load testing, Johnston says.

If you’re a Web or Mobile app developer interested in test-driving uTest Express, uTest is offering a limited-time exclusive offer for Xconomy readers of $1 per Bronze level test cycle (normally $499). Visit here and type in the promo code “Xconomy” (not case sensitive) at checkout. The offer caps out at 50 test cycles, and is good through June 30 for new uTest customers on a first come, first serve basis.

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