How BrowserStack Became The Go-To Testing Platform For Any QA
It's all fun and games until QA starts bugging the developers about their code and programming skills! No wonder testing is the least favorite phase of every IT project.
However, Ritesh Arora and Nakul Aggarwal's approach to this challenge was different - they saw an opportunity where everyone saw a problem - but it wasn't easy to solve!
Even though they launched three companies, they seemed to have the same problems at the end - how to test faster? Well, the third time was a charm for them! Ritesh and Nakul turned a seemingly unresolvable issue into a practical solution and developed that into a profitable business that we today know as - BrowserStack!
Three Start-ups By The Age Of 30
What's the secret to launching three start-ups by the age of 30?
Being pretty picky about your colleagues! Plus, it helps if you're attending the same college classes - that's how the friendship between Ritesh and Nakul started!
They met in 2002, while studying at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. During the four years there, they became close friends, shared similar interests about technology, and discovered their identical goals for the future - launching products that would facilitate the life of any developer out there!
Ritesh and Nakul didn't let student assignments obstruct their path to invention, and their first startup was launched in 2007! It was named QuarkRank, and it was a sentiment software that helped users come up with better purchasing decisions. Ritesh and Nakul didn't wait too long, forming a second company in 2008, called QuarkBase. It created an easier way to find relevant website information without having to search the entire Internet.
The third start-up was Downcase - a consulting company that offered services like web and mobile development, cloud computing, web analytics - basically anything related to building a website! So, when it was time to create Downcase's website, things started to get a little messy.
A Developer's Nightmare - Testing Phase
They gathered a team of WordPress developers, defined the ground rules, created the content, and shared ideas of the future site design - all this in two days straight! Considering the fact it was happening in 2011, Ritesh and Nakul did an impressive job!
Now, it was time to test the website before going live.
Quick reminder: the first-picked tool for website testing in 2011 was Internet Explorer. More than 60% of all Internet users used Microsoft products so it was no surprise the testing was happening there.
There was one tiny problem - it took ages to get it done!
Ritesh, as a leading tester, wasn't happy with this so-called solution at all. It took him 4 days to download a virtual machine, set it up, and test the website.
Two days to build the website and four days to test it? The worst deal of all times!
Ritesh was pretty unhappy with it - he didn't want to waste that much time! Plus, as this wasn't the first time he was experiencing this problem, he decided to take measures into his own hands. He spoke with Nakul and they came to a conclusion - they couldn't be the only ones having this problem!
They did what any good strategist would do before diving into the water - dipped their toes! Ritesh and Nakul did the market research and wanted to find out how many other developers are facing the same obstacles.
It turned out, Twitter was a great source for scathing information, and the duo was completely surprised by the 100+ Twitter users who bad-mouthed Internet Explorer - Microsoft's golden goose during those years. No developer wanted to waste four days to test a website and as the duo found out, the IT community wasn't silent about it either!
Ritesh and Nakul felt like they just won the lottery - this was the information they've been looking for! The missing piece of the puzzle! They jumped into full working mode and tried to solve this challenge.
They set the deadline in four months - a lot can happen in four months!
From A Single Tweet - To Stardom!
It took Ritesh and Nakul 4 months to create the first version of BrowserStack while working from a coffee shop, using 3G technology!
When the first version was done, they knew exactly who to turn to: a hundred unsatisfied Twitter users, eager to try a new testing platform that would hopefully rid them of their testing issues! The duo contacted them and gave the users free access to the tool, to test it out!
Around the same time, they also got in touch with jQuery founder John Resig, their good friend and exceptional entrepreneur. John told Ritesh and Nakul that the biggest problems developers have is testing on different browsers. He was excited about their idea as they were the first ones to even address this issue!
John showed his support by tweeting about BrowserStack - and that was all it took. The tweet went viral, and everyone wanted in on this project! Within two weeks from launching, Ritesh and Nakul had around 10,000 beta users.
However, the founders faced another challenge - the users wanted a more powerful, paid version of BrowserStack. They knew their next move right then and there - setting up packages and prices! They successfully completed this milestone and the first day they published the offer, BrowserStack had $1,000 in profit!
Wait, They Did This All By Themselves?
Yes and no.
Ritesh and Nakul were used to doing things alone and from a coffee shop - BrowserStack was no different. Six months after their launch in 2011, they got their first thousand paying customers and a bit later they even made their first million in revenue and yes, they did a solid job from their favorite coffee shop.
So, what shook them up?
Well, as BrowserStack became more popular, Ritesh and Nakul needed more people. And to their surprise, most people don't want to work in a coffee shop - they need offices! So, in 2015, four years after working side-by-side with their favorite barista, they decided it was time to settle down.
Ritesh and Nakul decided that Mumbai was a great place for setting up the headquarters. With over 50 employees, they had more than initially planned, but life had other plans for them. Their team was structured in an interesting way, including developers, customer support agents, and one operating manager - but no sales or marketing team.
They did all the work themselves, but word of mouth was crucial for their success!
One element was missing though - who was financing all this?
It was all Ritesh and Nakul's money. As CEOs of three other start-ups, they had a solid financial background to start BrowserStack! However, the duo received their first money for the company in 2018. Behind this deal was Accell, a company that wanted in on this project since the beginning but never got the chance. So, in 2018, Accell did a Series A investment for BrowserStack for a total of $50 million!
How about that - Ritesh and Nakul achieved global success without any marketing or sales team and without any angel investor's money?
It took 9 years for Ritesh and Nakul to find a way to help them make the business even more profitable. Now, they have offices in San Francisco and Dublin - one is the sales and marketing team, while the other one is a small engineering office.
Today, BrowserStack has more than 250 employees in these offices. More than 1.5 million developers use their services and 45,000 of them are paying customers, from more than 135 countries in the world.
The initial goal of Ritesh and Nakul is finally completed - no more slow testing!
BrowserStack went even further than their #1 goal, enduring multiple changes over the years. The product development was done in several stages: from testing only on Internet Explorer, to testing on different browsers and operating systems - and lastly, to automating the entire process!
It took the team three years to build a good enough platform for mobile testing, which was a very difficult goal to achieve as mobile devices are not the developers' first tool - computers are.
Ritesh and Nakul's idea about creating a faster testing solution became reality, but their goals for BrowserStack are much bigger, aiming to become the synonym for testing infrastructure.