Testbirds was founded in 2011 by Philipp Benkler, Georg Hansbauer and Markus Steinhauser. The company specialises in crowdtesting as a method for improving the quality of software products. The usability and functionality of software is tested under real conditions.
The company now has more than 100 employees with offices in Munich (headquarters), Amsterdam, London and franchisees in Hungary and Russia as well as distribution partners in Italy and North America.The Testbirds tester crowd has grown to over 500,000 testers in 193 countries since the company was founded. From a huge pool of testers, testbirds identifies exactly those people who match the characteristics of the potential target group.
In 2012, Testbirds reached the 3rd place in the finals of the Munich Business Plan Competition. Even before the good placement in the competition, Testbirds was able to win private investors from Augsburg via the BayStartUP investors network, who invested a 7-figure sum. In the next rounds, Seventure, Extorel and btov also joined Testbirds.
Georg, what did you as a founding team gain from taking part in the competition?
Above all, experience. We had to deal with the market and our own business plan. At the jury meeting, we were in a pitch situation for the first time, where we received real feedback from potential investors – fortunately without any risk if something went wrong. That was a real-life practical exercise.
Did the feedback from the jury play a role in your business plan or your market orientation?
Yes, quite clearly. Crowdtesting was completely unknown at that time, so it was valuable to be questioned by experts from the jury regarding USPs, but also advantages compared to existing solutions. For example, we started to position ourselves against outsourcing and in favour of offshoring and nearshoring.
What have been your most important milestones since taking part in the competition?
In the same year as the competition, we received the EXIST scholarship, then founded the company and were able to sign the first framework agreements with customers. At that time, there were still nine of us. A very important step was our internationalisation in 2013 – with the start in the Netherlands, Great Britain and Hungary, as well as the first projects in the USA. At that time, we already had 22 employees, but our test crowd consisted of just 4,000 people.
We then continued to grow thanks to various financing rounds and continuously expanded our portfolio. In the beginning, the focus was purely on crowd-based testing. Over time, other services and new cloud-based technologies were added. Since the beginning of 2016, the various testing offers have been combined on one platform – our "Nest" –so that customers can use all services from a single source and benefit from the numerous synergies. In November 2020, we were able to win our first customer, with whom we have a turnover of over 1 million euros, Telekom – we are very proud of this. Today, we work with over 600 customers worldwide, including large corporations as well as SMEs and startups.
Another big change was, of course, that Philipp left the operational business in March 2021 after 9 years. He will continue to support us with strategic issues.
Georg Hansbauer, one of the three co-founders and managing directors of Testbirds, moved into the role of CEO on 1 January 2021. Markus Steinhauser, COO and also co-founder, complements the management of Testbirds together with Christian Wäntig.
What role did your financing rounds play in the success of the company today?
They were an elementary building block for building up the company. We used the investments for sales, to push our internationalisation and to further expand our technology. Without an advance from our investors, scaling up to today's size would not have been possible.
How did you prepare for the rounds?
The BayStartUP coaching, especially by Barbara Dombay, was extremely helpful for the initial talks and also the further discussions and negotiations. Various dry runs, preparations for discussion situations and her assessment and evaluation of interim results were very helpful. As a founder, you can of course find a lot about financing online, but the domain is very specialised and a realistic assessment from people in your own network is worth its weight in gold.
In wchich way hat Munich's startup ecosystem developed further since 2012? What are positive developments, where do you think improvements might be necessary?
There are more and more successful startups, the university environment is very good. Munich is also a very strong business location, but the cooperation with corporations could be better, especially at the very beginning. It is still difficult to master certain issues in Germany. This applies, for example, to work permits for people with specific (IT) skills but no formal training.