My exciting ongoing journey with Testlio: following my heart as a founder and hiring Steve as CEO

I just recently went to the cinema to see a movie —  ‘A Star is Born’. It was emotional, heartbreaking, inspiring. And it ended with a dialogue, which was so beautiful that I knew it was going to be the intro for my blog post as soon as I heard it:

“Jack talked about how music is essentially 12 notes between any octave.
Twelve notes, and the octave repeats.
It’s the same story, told over and over, forever.
All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes.
That’s it.” 

Entrepreneurship to me is a form of art. Like in the world of music, you have notes, each one representing a unique sound. Great songs compile all this, together with the different instruments’ dynamics, tempo, volume, voice, lyrics and more. Besides creating a great tune, in order for a song to be a success, the artists have to be able to share it with a wide audience. That yet again adds an extra layer of complexity to the equation.

In the world of entrepreneurship, you have people that all have a unique set of skills and experience. Good companies consist of great people that can all play to their talents like artists play with notes. Entrepreneurs have this unique mindset that makes them see opportunities and go after them. As their companies grow, they hire talented people that have the expertise needed to help make their offering better each day. Like a composer, they combine the best to offer the best and create a forever-lasting emotion of their performances. In the early days, artists usually have to do everything on their own – from playing instruments to singing and finding venues to perform at. And when they’re discovered by producers and have a team, they’re able to delegate a number of those responsibilities to others, so that they can really excel at what they know best – music.

So if artists offer the world their version of how they see all 12 notes, entrepreneurs offer the world ideas that need great people to bring them to life.

First advisory session with Steve in 2014

When Marko and I started Testlio 5 years ago we had a vision of building the best global community of testers and giving them the opportunity to work on the best platform with the best companies in the world – all built on a foundation of collaboration and partnership.

When we entered and won the world’s largest hackathon AngelHack, it only served to embolden us even more – and, with the prize money, we were able to really launch Testlio. The first year, it was just us. I immediately took responsibility over our community and customers, while Marko drove the product. It was just so natural for me to engage with testers and find great customers that believed in our vision and saw value in what we had to offer. After all, I had been a tester myself for years and knew first-hand the challenges in our industry.

With Marko in San Francisco. 2013
With Marko in San Francisco. 2013

Through my early years serving the company as CEO, I met many people who thought I wasn’t good enough, or felt I didn’t have what it took to be successful, or believed that our idea wouldn’t work the way we had envisioned it. Sometimes it hurt. But instead of feeling down, I decided to feel awesome. I was empowered and energized to prove them wrong. That’s one thing I love about entrepreneurship —  you can prove people wrong, all the time. Yes, it constantly made me push my limits and feel very uncomfortable at times. But we’ve all heard the saying—the only way to grow is to challenge our limits and push ourselves out of our comfort zones. It opens up our world to new possibilities.

5 years later and here we are — our customers’ products touch more than 1 billion people, we have a united and collaborative community of testers and our team is a wonderful group of people that brilliantly tackle the issues in the industry. These years have taught us so much — it takes a pride of “TestLions” (what we call ourselves) to stay on course together and not feel afraid of every bump that’s on the way. After all, change in a startup is a constant.

I feel that what we’ve become over the years really makes us an unstoppable force. There’s just so much I can be proud of. Everybody, thank you so much for giving me a chance to work with you over the years and thank you for your continued support.

This year was really transforming and awesome for me too. In February, I became a mom and the time I took to spend with my son Aaron, also gave me the opportunity to reflect back on what I had achieved at Testlio. I realized that over the years with my work as  a CEO, I had drifted apart from the things that I really missed and always loved the most — working with our community and customers. And while we started thinking about going into 2019 we saw a great opportunity present itself. Our longtime friend, advisor and investor Steve, who we’ve known since Techstars in 2013, and who has helped us during good times and bad ones, decided to open up a new chapter in his career. While closely working with each other and thinking about what’s really the best for the company ,  we decided to offer him the role of CEO, which he accepted.