Lessons Learned from a Startup: Beta Testing

This picture is funny because it’s for Diablo 3 which has been in development almost since I was fifteen years old, but it’s not funny because it makes beta testing looking terrifying. That is the stereotype in the tech world. This stereotype is not only wrong, it is dangerous. Beta testing is the most important thing a startup can do and too many times does ego and fear stop companies from learning valuable lessons early in the game.

Beta testing is cute, fun, and should be more like this:

We just had our second beta testing session with teachers from New York City. But no matter how many teachers we invite, people representative of some amazingly diverse fields including design, journalism, and software development show up! And they all give the amazing feedback that we need!

Beta testing Saturdays are my favorite day of the week. Not only because we get awesome feedback on our product, but because we meet the most fascinating people! In the digital world of tech startups they are, you know, REAL people! Let’s not forget about the people that will pay for and use the product!

So this is an important lesson to learn, startups. Do beta testing! Bring them to you! Get a response from your users as soon as possible. In a world that is the most primed for scientific experimentation, you should be living life on the edge. Don’t be afraid to fail! The sooner you fail the faster you can get up and keep going. The sooner you recognize a problem the sooner you can fix it. It’s good for everyone.

Bharani, CEO of LearnBop, an adapted learning platform for students and teachers, introduced today’s event, Disrupt-Ed, by saying: “We want you to break the products.”

It’s true. We need you to.

Every incubator/accelerator in the country – and there are many now (DreamiT comes in at #9) should have built-in beta testing. Seriously. No excuses. We work so constantly that we rarely have time to get outside of the workspace. So, that’s ok, bring testers to you! Buy them some sandwiches, dumplings, whatever, but don’t act like you don’t have anything to learn!

We came up with the idea because it met a need. The four education focused Startl teams came together and we each pitched in what we knew how to do.

Bharani is a great organizer. Jorge and Alejandro of class.io are amazing web developers who made the website for the events in a day. And me? Well I just wrote the copy and have a big smile waiting for people when they come in.

Don’t let incubators take on the same silo mantality that universities have! Look around you, look at the strengths offered, and utilize them for the benefit of the investors, entrepreneurs, and users!

Business is all about relationships! I can’t stress this enough! Sometimes I think that business is, in many ways, actually just an excuse for having relationships with people. We all crave meaningful relationships and ways to further our personal growth and an understanding of ourselves. Business is a powerful tool to do that – it also makes you a bunch of cash if you’re successful at it. And what does being successful mean? It means having good relationships with your users, with your investors, and with your team.

So – what kind of feedback did we get? Well, for one, we learned to make sure that everything you do that involves your business is social. And who better to teach us but this amazing man, @MoKrochal . According to his business card Mo is a “Journalist, Educator, Beta Tester.” Man – this man is an angel for startups! And he hit us with the truth:

I don’t want to be an author – I want to be an educator.

I don’t want to take all the time to structure, edit, and publish my ideas.

I want to be able to share, learn, and teach instantly.

I want to painlessly get my ideas out to the world.

We also heard this from other beta testers:

I want to use newquill as an advertising platform.

I want a prezi like template.

I want to be able to translate my quill into different languages.

I want to be able to send this information to others and let them respond and edit it in case I am incorrect.

I want to be able to easily annotate and assemble my content.

Well, Mo and others, we’re listening. This next week of development is for you. We’re on our way! Can you feel it?

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