What is your startup
Equafy is a centralized cross-browser testing tool delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS).
What does it do?
Equafy SaaS cloud-based solution can test any website on numerous Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari versions for visual bugs and individual page issues. The affordable and user-friendly service — suitable for web developers, testers and website owners to validate their work before they launch their sites — can save users time, license, and infrastructure costs in three simple steps.
Through our webpage, users begin the process by entering a specific scenario, listing a particular web address to be tested — the most important pages of which will be selected and listed by Equafy’s Intelligence Scanners — and finally tested across any selected browser against the users baseline browser.
Results of individual pages and steps are then displayed through the service’s “Repository” dashboard where users can see page differences, missing elements, and layout of the site’s design.
Who is your startup aimed at?
Our startup can help practically every web developer, qa, and website owner have a better site. People using design agencies to develop their site can also control their work very easy with our service. Since we are SaaS, we do it globally and people from all countries value it.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
Our service has already gone beyond what is offered by other testing tools on the market by creating a simple and centralized verification platform that can analyze sites with dynamic content, changed when the page is refreshed, containing rotating images, products, and even advertisements. To compliment our testing tool, we’ve developed an intuitive results page where users can actually see the differences and faults of their sites as detected by the Equafy system, allowing them to take quick and effective steps to rectify any issue.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
A couple years ago I was managing the Bulgarian operation for a fast growing UK headquartered e-commerce service company. We had a lot of dynamics, people changing their stores very often, and we had to test each and every change. Following the rhythm of all these browsers and new versions was impossible, even with the level of automation we had. I started thinking 0f a solution, and realized this is was not just our problem, but a very common problem having to do with the speed of delivery, and the ability to verify a change quickly after it is completed So with several senior developers I had worked with in the past, we decided to fix it on a global level.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
As with any startup you have a great idea, and expect a great future, but this is a risk. Especially starting it exactly when you are expecting a third child, as I was. It was a tough choice leaving a high-management position, dropping my income, and preparing for a third child. Since we all have a solid background in testing and have been feeling the pain of lacking such tools for years, we were confident we would succeed so I jumped into it full-time.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I started my career almost 15 years ago as QA engineer in a company that was later acquired by VMWare. Over that time I moved into management, and during my career I have managed teams in five different countries – UK, USA, Monaco, Malaysia and Bulgaria. Building a startup in the area I know best – QA, has been my plan for many years.
The idea for a testing related startup has been with us for years and we had carefully planned it. We did not want to build a startup with an army of people. We wanted a startup that could serve millions of people with a 10-15 people team for several years. I have rejected several offers to relocate to California. Being based in Bulgaria is in some aspects a great advantage for startups. It is part of the EU, very close to big hubs like London and Berlin, and most importantly, full with great specialists in the market. For reference – during last years Google Code Jam contest, 16 out of 24 finalists were from central and eastern Europe. Doing a high tech product with balanced costs is one of the advantages of being based in Bulgaria.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
We initially started it with development over evenings and nights. At some point, we realized that work that should have been done in 3-4 months took us almost a year, so we decided to look for proper funding and accelerate. That way, we could also invest in customer acquisition more than just development. We contacted the local startup accelerators in Bulgaria and we eventually picked the Launchub team as partners. Luckily for us, they also liked our work and we very quickly reached an agreement to proceed. After that it was just a matter of time for each of us to start full-time on this.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
We are really proud that we developed the service in a really scalable way. Especially after having worked in enterprise, we knew the cost of big changes. Many startups try to make it as quick as possible since they don’t know their market well enough and want to test it. We took different approach, we designed it to scale for millions of users from start. That way, when we need to make bigger changes, they will take us less than a day at most. For example, we are very flexible with the cloud solutions, if one cloud provider is down, we can move to another very quickly.
How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years?
Since we are coming from the testing business, and have mixed backgrounds in business and technology, we are able to quickly understand our audience and react to their demands. We know what they need, what their problems are, and how to resolve them. Usually our communication with customers is very quick and effective since we talk the same language. We also have amazing answering time for support tickets. Peoples feedback is awesome when they see that their issue is resolved or answered within minutes.
How long has your startup been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
For now we managed to keep the team smaller, but it seems that with the acquisition of new users we’ll need to scale it. We worked together for five years in the past and know each other pretty well. We have a founder who developed the whole testing automation architecture used in five different countries, and a release manager who was in charge of a collections software setup. My experience is a mix of management and technology. We also have a team member who relocated from Bulgaria to the Netherlands and continued to work with us from there.
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
Our biggest challenge was timing. We had limited time and wanted to do more and more. It was tough balance between scope, priorities, and cost.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
We’d like to expand our customer base, help the automation communities, and add a lot more new features. We also want to support the open source communities by giving them free access to our solution.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
It’s never that easy. At the same time it’s extremely energizing. You can spend 15 hours working and adjust quickly then you see the result. This is something you cannot do in already developed company. Being pressured just increases creativity and you find ways of doing the things that were before considered impossible.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
You need to get the right partners on board as cofounders. Some of the companies we knew split, other just disappeared. We are extremely lucky to know each other very well, and are not afraid to be blunt with each other. We can afford to enter into arguments since we know that we’ll exit with a solution to the problem. This in priceless when you need to take tough and quick decisions.