How Testlio brought the power of a marketplace to the product testing space

You’d think after 1,500 interviews I’d understand where all the interesting businesses are, where all the revenue is, but I still don’t. I’m still surprised by pockets of opportunity.

Today’s guest is a perfect example. Joining me is Kristel Kruustuk. She’s the founder of Testlio, which tests your products to uncover issues before your customers do.

The part that surprises me is there’s a marketplace of testers. I’m surprised the demand for testers is so big it’s one of the hottest, fastest growing areas of IT.

So we’re going to find out how she discovered this business, where she’s getting customers, how she’s managing a marketplace of testers and more importantly what you can learn from her experience to grow your own business.

Kristel Kruustuk

Kristel Kruustuk


Kristel Kruustuk is the founder of Testlio, which tests your products to uncover issues before your customers do.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And you would think by now I’d understand where all the revenue is, where all the interesting businesses are, but I still don’t. We’re talking about over 1,000, over 1,500, actually, interviews that I’ve done and still, I’m surprised where there are pockets of opportunity.

Like today’s guest would have totally shocked me and I would have said absolutely not to having her on except I now understand the space. It’s amazing. So, here’s the deal. Joining me right now is Kristel—and I want to make sure, Kristel, that I’m pronouncing your last name right—Kruustük.

Kristel: You got it right.

Andrew: Look at that.

Kristel: Yes.

Andrew: She is the founder of Testlio. What they do is it’s basically a marketplace that connects people with products and testers. So they get them testers to test out their software. I know this is like overly simplistic. I’m going to let her explain it in more detail within this interview, but the part that I would have been surprised by is there’s a marketplace of testers, that there’s a demand for testers that’s so big that as she’s telling me, it’s one of the hottest, fastest growing areas of IT.

So we’re going to find out how she built up this business, how she discovered it, where she’s getting customers, how she’s managing a marketplace of testers and more importantly what you can learn from her experience to grow your own business.

This interview is sponsored by two great companies. The first you and Kristel both know. It’s called Pipedrive. You know it because I’ve been talking about it in past interviews. She knows it because she knows the founder and the second company is going to help you create beautiful forms that do more than just collect information. I’ll tell you more about them later. But for now, they’re called Formstack. I still have a hoarse voice from speaking at a conference, but Kristel, it’s good to have you on here.

Kristel: Thank you for having me, Andrew. I’m super excited. I’ve been waiting for this for a couple of months now, I would say.

Andrew: Sweet. I’m so glad to have you on here. Here’s the first question. You understand that I’m coming from a good place here, so it’s not super challenging, but testers? Why does someone need testers? Can’t you just create a Facebook group of potential users and existing users and when you have a brand new release of your software, go to your Facebook group and say, “Can I get any beta testers?” Give the beta testers early access, get their feedback, improve the product, boom, free and you get actual users, not paid people. Why doesn’t that work?

Kristel: I love that question. It’s such a great question. The best way to answer it is imagine your company has 100 million users and every one of them has different devices, different locations, like they have so many different varieties that affect their performance of the mobile app. Then you have all this feedback flowing into your Facebook group and it’s just becoming overwhelming. The number of support tickets is rising. Then you start realizing we know there’s an issue happening in production, but how can we actually replicate it.

So that’s why you need expert testers to really understand what is the cause of the issue, write down like very clear steps on how the issue is reproducible in what environments and what devices and that’s where the real value of testing comes in. Overall, when you look at the testing market, then the best way to think about it is we really help customers to provide better experience for their users through like really helping them prioritize a lot of the issues that are coming in.

If you have 100 million users, every one of the customers is going to have different issues, but our job is to really prioritize those issues and then let the customer know here are top ten issues of this week development, let’s fix them and then let’s push the production. We can develop forever, but in this fast-growing mobile space, companies need to release fast in fast cycles, so you can’t wait to fix everything. There are no products that are actually—

Andrew: And you help me figure out where to spend the most time.

Kristel: Yes, exactly.

Andrew: How do you help me prioritize?

Kristel: What we look at is we usually look at the usage statistics of the customers, so what on what devices and what locations our customer’s products are used. We look at the App Store and Play Store reviews, for example, and then we just let our team of exploratory testers, the team is actually global, so our team is global today. We let them look at the product and figure out depending on the context and our users’ expectations, here are the issues that we should really put our focus on.

Andrew: I see. So, if you see, for example, that a lot of our reviewers are saying, “I use this in offline mode, that’s why I love it,” then anything that has to do with offline mode would get priority.

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: I understand the problem a Facebook group. We’ve gotten feedback and it’s hard to tell is it someone making a stupid mistake or is it an actual problem with the hardware. Then what you have to do when you get user feedback is come back to them and say, “Can you please tell me what device you’re on?” And they think they’re on one device and they’re actually on another device. All that stuff is just a big time suck. I get the need for people who are experts at this. Let me ask you this, you guys don’t fully hire the testers, right? It’s a marketplace where they can come in and out wherever they want, right?

Kristel: Yes, that’s correct.

Andrew: That’s kind of a pain too because now there are people who don’t work for you who you have to manage, you have to train but they’re not obligated to stick around. Why not just hire a group of people who are all the same around the world—actually, I think I understand the answer to that. As I ask it, it sounds like a stupid question.

Kristel: No, no.

Andrew: Tell me about the advantage of a marketplace.

Kristel: So, definitely, like the biggest advantage is that our testers are global and whenever our customers need—like for example, we have a US company that wants to expand let’s say to Italy. We have those testers in Italy on local networks, on devices that are most used by the locals and that’s where the benefit of a model like ours really comes in. It’s the global reach of the community. Today, we actually accept three percent of these testers into our community. So we have a lot of applicants, but at this point, we’re really focused on really expert testers and so that’s where our focus goes.

Andrew: One of the things that I’ve noticed in my interviews is the power of marketplaces, that we think so much of technology as being about software. The more you get into the software space and especially SaaS, the more your recurring revenues build on themselves and you become a smaller company.

There’s an inherent moat that comes from having a marketplace that’s big and strong because it’s hard to replicate your marketplace and get testers all over the world in all these countries you have it in. It’s hard to get the same number of customers that you have. So what I want to understand is how you did it. My sense is people are listening, not watching. Your hair is very big today. What color is it?

Kristel: It was supposed to be pink. As it’s not the permanent color, it’s coming off with every wash. But I think it’s pink.

Andrew: Yeah. I’ve seen different haircuts. What’s interesting about you is you are interesting. You’re interesting to pay attention to. You’re interesting to read. You’re here doing this interview. You’re the evangelist. You’re the person in charge of bringing in all these community members, right?

Kristel: Yes, you are correct. This entire idea of Testlio is actually born out of my personal frustration as a tester. Before I started Testlio, I was never dreaming about becoming an entrepreneur. I just wanted to build my career in testing and become the best at it.

Andrew: In testing? You had a full-on job in testing?

Kristel: Yes, exactly.

Andrew: What company? Is this FlexTrade Systems?

Kristel: Yes, exactly. So, before I started Testlio—I’m from Estonia, just to make that clear as well—after I graduated high school, I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do with my life. I went to study programming in the local college. During my second year in college, a lot of my classmates were telling me, “Hey, Kristel, if you want to enter the tech industry, testing is an entry level job and you can really build your career out of this and become a great developer, essentially.” I was immediately sold by the idea.

So I started working to a small company in Estonia, moved over to a bigger company and I figured testing is really my passion because it gives me the opportunity to connect with so many different teams and people in this development cycle. Like you need to talk with the product managers, the designers, developers, you need to understand the customer and then I realized I really want to build my career in testing. Then eventually, after I graduated college, I wanted to move away from Estonia to experience something new. I went to London and that’s where I found a job at a company called FlexTrade.

Andrew: I see. So you went from doing testing as a way of getting an entry level job in understanding to actually make it a job. You had it for about a year, right?

Kristel: In London, but before that—

Andrew: Before that another year.

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: So two years total. What’s the frustration you had? It seems like companies were already understanding the power of doing quality assurance. It seems like they understood the value of testers. What’s the problem that you saw that led you to start this company?

Kristel: So one of the things that you mentioned in the beginning of this podcast was that testing is actually the fastest growing IT segment and companies were spending like 16% of their budget in testing 2012 and now it has risen to 28%, which is huge growth. It all comes from the fact that—

Andrew: 28% of their budget is spent on testing?

Kristel: Yes, IT budget is spent on testing.

Andrew: I see. Really?

Kristel: Yeah, exactly. So the need is super high, right? That’s what we’ve seen over the years as well. When I was working in London, I just knew I want to build my career in testing.

Andrew: So no longer was it going to be a stepping stone to something else, it was that something else.

Kristel: That was the thing. In London, I just realized that it can be a career, like a separate career and I can be very successful at it. So, in London, next to my full-time job, I started reaching out to like local testers. I started going to meetups. I started reaching out to thought leaders in the space to really figure out how they became so successful at it and how can I become like them. So, then the other thing that I did was I started looking out for different options, like how to test online or how to get my skills better.

Obviously the best option is to usually practice. So I found out about different crowdsource testing platforms and I was immediately fascinated about the idea that they connect testers all over the world on one platform with all these great customers and I can get paid for it. It seemed like a great option. I signed up to different communities.

One of the problems that I ran into was that they didn’t really appreciate testers’ time. So a lot of these communities are built up on quantity versus quality. So, it means that testers are paid per issue, which means that they are not really incentivized to dig deep into the product and figure out what the issues are because any of us that our listeners or audience, any of us can open up an app today and find like ten issues from every mobile product that we use, but the real quality of testers or the real value of testers where they help us prioritize, “Okay, what is important for us to test and on what devices and so on,” right?

Andrew: I see. So the low-hanging fruit, quick, easy, issues, that’s not really useful. It’s more useful to dig in and figure out which of those issues is important and which isn’t and then maybe dg in deeper to understand the cause of it, is that right?

Kristel: Exactly. Then the other aspect of the going after this low hanging fruit was that the testers in these teams were not cooperating, but quality in my opinion was always supposed to be like teamwork. You need to talk to the developer, provide them feedback, and work with the testers together to understand how can we provide the best experience for the customers. So, there was all this competition going on and that’s where I just started like bouncing ideas with my cofounder and now unhusband Marko.

Andrew: Let me step away from your business for a moment and just ask you a philosophical question that I’ve been wrestling with here at Mixergy. I know that I can figure out how well my team is doing when it comes to booking by saying we’re going to have a metric. I need you to book this number of guests every month and if you don’t, you fail. With things like that, it’s easy. With quantity, it’s easy to measure. With quality, it’s really hard. How do I give my team a goal of the quality of the interview? How do I give my team a goal to find not just guests to interview, but quality guests? It’s really hard to do it.

Some of it requires a sense of taste, a sense of understanding. Some of it’s pretty arbitrary. I might value you more than I value tomorrow’s guest. How do you do that? It seems like it’s kind of similar to what you’re talking about. It was easy for companies to say to testers we’re going to pay you based on how many bugs or we’re going to judge you based on how many issues you find. But the quality and the depth of understanding is a harder thing to attach a metric to. How do you do that?

Kristel: Well, it all comes down to the fact of how we work with our community. We really work with the experts, with testers how have had a lot of experience in this industry and then they really know how to adapt to different context of like different businesses, right? So, we give them an opportunity through our platform to grasp all that information from our customers to figure out what’s the best solution and then work together as a team to provide better results for the customers.

Andrew: But you don’t have a metric around it. You’re just saying you create an environment where that is part of the culture, but you don’t give them a metric for everything.

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: So, you had this problem, you understood there could be a better way. Then you’re invited to a hack-a-thon. Who did this hack-a-thon?

Kristel: AngelHack. We were not invited, but I just saw an ad in Eventbrite in London and that initiated the first idea of like, “Okay, maybe I should try this as a company.”

Andrew: Okay.

Kristel: I saw the ad of AngelHack in London. They’re a global hack-a-thon. They started off in San Francisco. When I saw the advertisement in Eventbrite, they had prizes like you can travel to San Francisco to present to like top VCs in the Valley and then $25,000. That was like to me, “Okay, I’ve got to give it a try.”

Andrew: Did you go in there knowing what the idea would be?

Kristel: Yes. So, at this point, I had already like all of these frustrations gathered on paper. I was discussing a lot of these ideas with my cofounder and now husband, Marko. He at the same time was actually building another startup and he fell in love with what I was doing and saw the passion I had for testing and he was like, “I can’t let you go alone,” because a lot of times when you go to these hack-a-thons, you end up going with random strangers basically building a product and that really doesn’t, scale, right? If you want to build a successful company, you need to have a very strong team that can go through fire with you. Marko was like, “Okay, I’m going to come with you.”

Andrew: I see. Okay. It was the two of you saying, “If you’re going to have a team, let’s have a team you can really care about and take beyond this event.” You go in there, you don’t win first place.

Kristel: Yes, we didn’t. You want to know the reason?

Andrew: What?

Kristel: You want to know the reason?

Andrew: What is it? Yeah.

Kristel: There were 2 companies out of 64 ideas that were selected as winners. We got the 3rd place. We were also invited on the stage, but only two first places got the tickets to present in the finals in San Francisco. Basically, what we did was that as a couple, we were afraid to mention the fact that we are a couple. So, we hid the fact that we’ve known each other for a long time. So, when I had to pitch Testlio on stage to all of the judges, I didn’t mention anything about the team, zero about the team.

Andrew: I see.

Kristel: But they still saw the passion I had for testing and were like, “This is a great idea.” What eventually happened was that the next day after AngelHack, Marko was sitting in Google campus in London and he had just met the founder of AngelHack and told the entire story of how we’ve been together for three years, we moved together to London and this guy was like, “What? You should have told us immediately.” He offered us the tickets and two months later, we are in Silicon Valley and we got $25,000.

Andrew: Wait, so even though you didn’t win the tickets to come to San Francisco, he said, “I like what you’ve done. I think you accidentally crippled your chances of winning. I’m going to give you a ticket anyway, you and Marko, to fly to San Francisco.” Did he also pay to put you guys up in a place?

Kristel: Yes.

Andrew: That, frankly, is really expensive in San Francisco, more expensive maybe than the flight. You come in and you pitch, you win, you get $25,000.

Kristel: Yes.

Andrew: What do you think registered with the audience but wouldn’t have registered with me? As you saw, there was a time when I thought this whole thing was too basic. Why did they understand it? What do you think registered with them?

Kristel: I think at this point, I was clearly understanding the market. I saw the need. I had my frustrations. I was showing them that there is a huge growth opportunity to consider all these companies using these services that are not actually valuing the testers, but eventually, it’s going to come out and then at the same time, I think that’s what they really saw and the other aspect was the team, like a team of me and Marko and Marko had been a serial entrepreneur since high school.

Andrew: All right. You said, “I saw the need.” Let me take a moment and come back. I want to talk about a sponsor and come back and challenge that. I don’t fully understand that. I understand your need. What I’m curious about is the need of your clients. So, let me take a moment, I’m going to talk about a company called Formstack. Have you ever heard of Formstack or are they about to reach a new customer here today?

Kristel: I haven’t.

Andrew: Good. Perfect. Here’s what Formstack does. They do forms. Forms are another thing you would think is way too basic. There are too many companies doing forms already. What separates Formstack from others?

Here’s the thing about forms. If you think about it as just data collection, a little nicer design might increase your results and there’s a reason to pick a nicer form. And Formstack has a nicer design that’s going to get you more submissions. But Kristel, the thing that I’ve discovered is forms need to be more than that. They need to be smart, almost like programming for non-programmers.

Here’s what I did—I had this idea that maybe people wanted to learn how to do interviews because, Kristel, I was getting questions all the time from people asking me questions, “What software do you use to record? How do you edit? How do you get your guests?” I said, “You know what? Maybe this is something I should be teaching.”

So, I sent out an email to my whole audience saying, “Would you want to learn how to do interviews if I taught it?” Some people clicked yes, some people clicked no. If they clicked no, I had a form that said why not so I could learn what was it about interviewing. Maybe they didn’t understand it, etc. What are their objections? If they clicked yes, I asked them a few questions so that I understand why they wanted it. What’s the goal? What do you need to learn about it, etc.?

Once I hit submit, then my form asked them, “Would you pay for this?” Now, anyone who said no, I asked again, “Why wouldn’t you pay?” Maybe there’s something that would make it a win for them. Anyone who clicked yes, I asked them right there on the form for their credit card. I said, “Look, I’m not sure what I’m going to charge, but I need to see that you’re really interested and you really will pay, out a little deposit down, I promise you can have it back anytime.”

So, the form was smart enough to know who to show the payment to and who not to, who to ask why not and who to take on to the credit card page and the form was smart enough to collect credit card payments. That is what a smart form should do. It should be like programming. It should collect the right data, give the right response and allow you to do things like collect credit cards, allow you to do things like take that data and pass it into maybe—we’re going to talk in a moment about Pipedrive.

Maybe if someone did pay, I want to put them into Pipedrive. Maybe if someone did not pay, I want to put them into my email marketing software. Maybe I want to add it to a spreadsheet so people on my team have it. All that stuff needs to work and that’s where—did I say Formspring? Formstack.

Kristel: Formstack, yeah.

Andrew: I hope I didn’t say Formspring. Who’s Formspring? I think that was a company that failed.

Kristel: I think you said Formstack. I’m pretty sure.

Andrew: I hope so. Formstack is the company that I’m recommending you sign up for. Formstack will let you have these beautiful smart forms that will integrate with everything. They have native integrations with PayPal. They have native integrations with Google. They also have Zapier integrations, so many others.

Here’s what I urge you guys to do if you’re interested, just go check it out. Go learn a little bit more about it and the best way to learn is actually by trying it. They have a free 14-day offer for you right now. You can try it. If you don’t like it within 14 days, just cancel, no issue. If you do love it and I think you will, you’re going to get 25% off your first three months and frankly the pricing is so low that you’re going to be happy no matter what you pay. Go check them out at to get that offer,

That other domain I was telling you about, that other company, totally went out of business. That’s the other nice thing about Formstack. They’ve been around. Kristel, you take these forms, you embed it in your workflow, you embed it in your company. If the company fails or they adjust in some major way, your whole business, not you have to go hunt down these stinking forms. Formstack has been around long enough that you know you can depend on them. Check them out,

The thing that I was wondering before I did that sponsor message is you said, “I saw the need.” I understand from a tester’s point of view how you saw that it could be done differently. But the testers aren’t the people paying. It’s the companies. Did you do anything to understand that the companies had a big enough need, a big enough problem they would pay you for a better solution that existed? Did you have that? It’s okay if you didn’t. I’m just trying to understand it.

Kristel: At this point, I actually didn’t talk with any of the potential customers. I just knew that a lot of the testers that I was looking up to, they were not part of these communities, of these crowdsource testing communities because of the reason that testers were not appreciated. I immediately knew that if I would start something like Testlio, they would want to be part of it. They would want to help and grow this community. Then this is part of the need for me. Bless you.

Andrew: Thank you. I hit the mute. So, you said, “I knew the need, but there was no need to full know,” except when you were pitching, you got an offer for someone to sign up. Who was the very first not customer, but the very first user, the very first person who said, “I want this service?”

Kristel: So the very first company that signed up was actually by the founder of AngelHack. So, at first, they were not the paid customer but I was just telling them that I’m going to test this product and from there on, we got our paid customer within two months after the hack-a-thon, actually.

Andrew: What does AngelHack have? I don’t think they have an app, do they?

Kristel: No. Their founder had a product on the side and I can’t remember the name.

Andrew: I see. This was for him. He said, “You know what? I really like the service. I get it. Can you please test it for me?”

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: So, two months before you got your first paid customer, you had a real user. Now it’s time for you to go out there and get the testers. Where did you get the testers?

Kristel: So, I would say that since the beginning, it’s been word of mouth. It all started with me because I had a lot of my friends, they were testers and I just invited them on board and we started testing together. That’s how it started growing eventually.

Andrew: I see. What was your process for testing with them?

Kristel: So, in the beginning, at this point, we have a platform that really helps us collaborate together with the testers and seamlessly integrates with different project management systems like Jira and Trello, Pivotal Tracker. So, the customers really don’t have to come to our—

Andrew: That’s what you use right now, Jira and Trello?

Kristel: No. We integrate with them.

Andrew: Okay.

Kristel: But when we started I was personally living in our customer systems and manually syncing issues from like spreadsheets into our customers’ project management systems and then that’s where the need came in for building integrations and having this one place to gather all the issues.

Andrew: I see. You at first logged into their Trello account or logged into their—what was the other one?

Kristel: Jira.

Andrew: Jira, which I can imagine was very popular with them because developers love Jira. You were adding bugs into that and you just went with your friends, your contacts and that’s how you serviced the first customer. Was it Greg [inaudible 00:26:59] who was the founder?

Kristel: Yeah.

Andrew: It was his business you were working on. All right. Then you got your first paid customer. How’d you get your first paid customer?

Kristel: Purpose first paid customer came through the network of AngelHack. So, AngelHack basically had a two-month program before the finals that happened in January in 2013 and they just wanted to—basically we had weekly webinars with successful entrepreneurs and they were interested in telling about their failures and successes.

At the same time, they put us together with a mentor who would help us prepare for the finals. The mentor that we got was an owner of a mobile agency in London and they were like pretty successful at this point, like they were working for companies like BBC, Coca Cola and so on.

Andrew: I see. So, suddenly because of one client, you ended up working with many other clients. So, now you have to ramp up not just your collection of testers, but also the software you use. So the early days of marketplaces are really painful. You get one side of the marketplace, now you have to rush and get the other side. You can’t just use Excel spreadsheets forever. You have to systemize it better. How did you get the rest of the testers? Was that easy? How’d you create the process for working with the testers?

Kristel: I would say there’s still a long way to go. We’re still building the processes. As we were growing our testers network, especially in the U.S., there’s a lot of process improvements to be made in terms of automating the entire workflow, like in the beginning, it was all about me reaching out to testers, inviting them to be part of the platform. That’s where we just worked together. We worked in spreadsheets in the beginning. I think Marko actually developed a first Jira integration for the customer maybe four months later, but up until then, it was just everything was manual. I was working like crazy.

Andrew: Manual because you had to keep—

Kristel: Yes. I had to keep up with really syncing up with our customers’ platforms.

Andrew: So, it was email and you understanding their platforms.

Kristel: Yes, exactly.

Andrew: You pass a request on to one of your testers. I see. Then you’d come back and how would you keep track of hours and payments and all that?

Kristel: Then basically we built the systems that whenever a tester actually complete a task, then they had to push a button and that’s where they got payment. We were doing payments manually until like I would say the beginning of last year or something. We were doing it manually for quite a long time.

Andrew: For PayPal or something?

Kristel: Yeah, PayPal and in Europe, there’s another company. My mind is going blank right now.

Andrew: I get it. TransferWise seems to be really big in Europe now.

Kristel: Yeah. But they’re not offering an API to provide us, make us the payments.

Andrew: I see.

Kristel: But it’s also an Estonian company, TransferWise, by the way.

Andrew: It is?

Kristel: I know the founders as well. Estonians know everybody.

Andrew: I’m getting so many requests to—anyone who wants to get paid outside of the US or at least in Europe, they want to get paid using TransferWise and I’m having issues with them. They’re now owned by PayPal, aren’t they? Maybe they let you log in with PayPal, that’s what it is.

Kristel: Yeah, exactly. I think Peter Thiel is one of their investors as well.

Andrew: Is that right?

Kristel: Yeah.

Andrew: So how’d you know what to charge? I’m trying to think of all the issues with marketplaces because they are such murder in the beginning that you almost feel like you made the wrong decision going into a marketplace. You have to get both sides. You have to figure out pricing. You have to be the intermediary communicating between the two, which makes it feel like a broken telephone game, the whole thing. I’m trying to find all those little issues that people who are in this space are going to have and try to understand how you dealt with them in the beginning.

Kristel: For me, basically understanding how much the testers are getting paid and how much we should charge the customer, it was really coming down to okay, the customers were saying this is much we would be ready to pay for this service and then on the tester side, I was looking if I went to platforms like Elance or oDesk, for example, now it’s called Upwork because they merged, I was just looking at different prices in different countries for these testers and that’s how I basically came up with a payment system for the testers. So, for example—

Andrew: What are they used to getting paid? We’re going to come up with a price that’s based on that. What are companies already paying for testers? Got it. We’re going to do that.

Kristel: Exactly. It was really basic and I was just looking into different platforms like oDesk and Upwork to figure out how much are the testers actually getting paid and we had to obviously as a services business or as a services business that is empowered by a platform, you really need to figure out like how are you going to keep your margins up as well. So, we figure that out by, for example, the fact that we have a global community, we can go to different testers throughout the world and keep pour margins higher that way as well.

Andrew: I can’t get passed your hair. It’s so dramatic. It’s big. It’s pink. It’s curly. It kind of reminds me, I was at a conference recently and the founder of—if forget the name of the company that he has, had green hair, but it was beautiful done green hair with like the shade goes from green to yellow in the back in just the right way. I couldn’t stop looking at the guy. It was like I was in love with him. I kept staring at him, but that was his thing. I don’t know if the woman next to him knew him personally or if they were working together, but she was wearing this dramatic green sweater too. You couldn’t stop looking at them.

Of course I went over and talked to him. I forgot the name of the company that he had but I knew it had something to do with frog, which is why everything was green. I understood that he also created a new business that he recently raised I think $1.5 million for. It’s called He wants to do for Swift, Application’s programming language, he wants to do for them what Rails did for Ruby, is what he said, “The only reason I know all this stuff is because he had dramatic hair. These little things that will make you stand out are so powerful.

Kristel: Exactly. If you’re creating yourself a brand, like I haven’t forcefully don’t something special to stand out from people, but I think it’s very important when you’re creating the brand, especially if you go to different conferences or like presenting webinars or even doing this podcast. People will not usually remember what you said, but they remember how you made them feel and how you look like, right?

Andrew: Yeah. Rand Fishkin used to go to conferences, the founder of, used to go to conferences with yellow sneakers. Ben, the guy who ran I Can Haz Cheezburger? for a long time, he used to have these dramatic glasses. You’d go to a dinner, of course you’re going to talk to the guy with the dramatic glasses. Even if you don’t bring it up because you feel uncomfortable, you want to pay attention to him. I feel like I could use a look like that. It was the author of “The 48 Laws of Power,” he said have something, a walking stick, something and then he gave historical references to people who had that.

Kristel: Yeah. I don’t know if curly long hair would fit you.

Andrew: Curly long hair wouldn’t, I don’t know what, but it does need to be dramatic. It can’t be a little bit. You have to almost have guts to do it and then you feel like you’re kind of coasting on the results. I get where you are. Here’s something that you told our prouder that I wanted to ask you a little bit more about. You said that one of the things that you learned from running this business is that you need to have clear goals and key performance indicators for every department and for every person on the team. How do you give everyone on the team a KPI? I’d like to do that too. I’ve been thinking that. How do you do that?

Kristel: Well, it all comes down to the fact that you need to hire leaders or managers in your team who will basically help you to drive the vision to the entire company. Like everything for us started changing after we grew past 14 people and it was really challenging to go from this family-like person to an actual business. That’s where we started seeing—that’s where we started making a lot of mistakes. We were hiring people, giving them all these big titles and we didn’t make them accountable for specific things that were happening in the company.

Andrew: Does everyone have a KPI?

Kristel: Well, everyone has—yes, like the teams have KPIs.

Andrew: Who’s this guy, Justin, on your team? Or no, he’s not on your team. He’s an outside consultant who helped book this. I’m trying to think of a role that is hard to add a KPI to. Do you have an assistant?

Kristel: Yes, I do have an assistant.

Andrew: Does your assistant have a goal, a metric to aim for?

Kristel: Well, the way I track her performance is really through—like I don’t like, “Hey, you need to set a specific number of meetings,” or anything. It comes down to my gut feeling at this point. Being we’re still such a small team, you know exactly when something doesn’t work or somebody like slacks off, but if your team grows, you can start looking at the team KPI metrics. If someone doesn’t perform, then the team will be affected by it. That’s good.

Andrew: I see. So, maybe not every single role. Maybe I’m taking what you said way too exactly.

Kristel: Yeah.

Andrew: Can you give me an example of where a KPI has helped a team member where maybe it wouldn’t have been obvious to you before you started this business about five years ago?

Kristel: I think that’s a very good question. I like your questions. They’re so deep.

Andrew: Thanks.

Kristel: But I think the biggest thing for us figuring out since the beginning as we are a services business that is powered in part by the platform, I think the biggest thing for the development team is to figure out how can they provide enough value. So, now the biggest thing that we are going after is how many hours, like how many customers can a QA manager, who’s basically the project manager for the customer handle. This number has to grow over time. This is what we’re going to track. We don’t track like how many times our site was down or anything like that. The most critical KPI metric that we can’t run without is understanding how many hours can a QA manager handle each—

Andrew: Why does it take so long to manage a client?

Kristel: Because our customers, we usually work with bigger enterprises and their needs vary, from different—different customers’ needs vary and they need QA managers who will basically go on the phone with them on a bi-weekly basis, for example, gather their details, get their feedback and then implement it to the community and then the community will take care of it.

Andrew: I see. So the more times they’re on the phone or the more time they spend talking to a customer, the better it is.

Kristel: Yes.

Andrew: As opposed to what? Where’s the waste of time for them?

Kristel: So the waste of times come in from if the QA manager goes into the platform and invites testers into a test cycle, that’s like all this manual part that they have to do. So, the engineering team responsibility is to automate this workflow. So, we immediately, when the QA manager puts in the customer data and all the needs for this specific test cycle, like the testers are already automatically invited into the project, for example. So, just automating this entire workflow from the QA manager’s perspective so they can handle more customers and just be on the phone and get their feedback and get that feedback to the community.

Andrew: Before we started, I said I was going to ask you what your revenue was. You said, “I’m not going to tell you.” I said, “I’m going to keep asking you.” You said, “I’m not going to tell you.” But you said, “I’ll tell you the names of the companies.” What are some of the companies that you’re working with right now?

Kristel: So I think some of the most exciting ones for us, like all of them are awesome but Lyft, a lot of your audience probably knows.

Andrew: The car sharing company, yes.

Kristel: Microsoft, we work with the Outlook team, we work multiple teams, Strava, I think these are some of the ones that are pretty awesome.

Andrew: Yes. Salesforce, CBS Interactive, Flipboard, GoDaddy, all these people have been customers of yours at one point or another.

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: Revenue, what can you say about revenue?

Kristel: I’m not going to disclose that to you, Andrew.

Andrew: My team might have gotten this from Justin, the person who hooked us up for this interview. He said seven figures. So, easily over $1 million, considering how much you’ve taken in and the number of clients. That’s an easy win for him. Is it absurd to say more than $5 million in sales?

Kristel: Yes, definitely.

Andrew: That’s okay. It’s not absurd for me to say it. You’re saying definitely more than $5 million, right?

Kristel: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m about to do an ad for a company called Pipedrive. It kind of fits in with your story. What’s your connection to Pipedrive?

Kristel: So, first off, they’re an Estonian company. I know all of the founders. I know a lot of their employees and they have a huge office in Estonia. So, we have very close ties with them. They’re actually a customer of Testlio as well.

Andrew: So, you’re testing out their iPhone app?

Kristel: Yes.

Andrew: Which is good. Their iPhone app used to suck. It used to just be nothing but a web view, which was really bad. Now it’s really good. Now I’m forcefully trying to use their software for other CRM, other than booking interviews and dealing with customers because it’s just gotten so good. It’s intuitive. But also, he gave you guidance, the founder of the company.

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: How? What’s the direction that he helped you go in?

Kristel: So the biggest thing was that Pipedrive went through an accelerator program in the U.S. back when they started. They went through AngelPad here in San Francisco and one of their founders, Ragnar Sass, we knew him from the Estonian startup community and he was organizing a lot of startup events and we started talking with him and immediately started giving us a lot of valuable feedback and one of the things he told was like, “Hey, guys, what are you doing here in Estonia? You should get out of Estonia and apply to an accelerator in the U.S. and see what’s going to happen?” That’s what we did. Since then, he’s been super helpful and helped us with hiring, especially in the beginning. That’s where all this valuable feedback comes in.

Andrew: Why? What was it about being in an accelerator that’s so useful?

Kristel: So, as an Estonian company, Estonia is a very small country, but I’m sure that a lot of your audience has heard that Estonia is very innovative but Estonian companies, they want to become very successful, they have to think globally from day one.

Andrew: So why an accelerator? Why not either bootstrap considering that you’ve got paying customers? You just did something when I said bootstrap. What is it about bootstrapping?

Kristel: No, sorry. I just thought about the fact that I think the big value of accelerator comes in when you have never built a company before, like these accelerators give you the network of people. I think in the beginning of building a company or a business, you need to have a lot of people that can support you, can give you a lot of feedback and these accelerators like put you through like the most intensive program over a three-months period and you get so much feedback from, “This business sucks. This business is awesome, here’s what you should do, here are some customers that are interested in working with you,” and I think that’s where the value comes in.”

Andrew: Was there anything specific that you got from them that you didn’t know before?

Kristel: Definitely, like the connections, how to build a sales organization. So, for example, through the Techstars network, we got like a very good advisor as well that we engaged immediately and a year after, he was the one—we were having regular weekly calls and then he saw that we started growing, but I was obviously limited in my skills in terms of sales and then he was like, “Hey, guys, you should push yourself to the corner, hire a salesperson.” Then we were able to, thanks to him, he started looking out for potential candidates and that’s where everything started taking off for Testlio, crazy as well.

Andrew: I’m looking at AngelPad’s site and I’m looking at Pipedrive on AngelPad. Apparently they’re worth $70+ million. I don’t know that—I’m surprised that AngelPad would even list their potential valuation, but it’s over $70 million, raised $15 million. I’ll be honest with you, when I first they were in Estonia, I was a little hesitant to use them.

Kristel: Why?

Andrew: I wasn’t sure if it was one dude in his garage. I’d never heard of them, never heard of the company, is this software that I can count on, is this something that’s going to work. So, I wasn’t sure. Here’s the problem. I think anyone in sales is going to identify with this even though this is not exactly a sales problem.

My problem was I had all these guests that I wanted to have on Mixergy, but the process of getting a guest on was a pain in the butt. I would ask someone to be on, someone on my team would follow up with them and then we’d forget and we wouldn’t know. We would ask some guests and then we’d have some weeks where we’d have a lots of guests, some weeks where we didn’t have any guests. It was just really chaotic. Then I heard from one of my past interviewees that Pipedrive helped him close more sales. He said, “That changed everything. For one on one sales, the best.”

So I started looking into it out of desperation. What I noticed was the site at the time was a little clunky. Now it’s super smooth, but at the time it was like here’s this big YouTube video for 10 minutes explaining to you how Pipedrive works because you won’t know. It’s a whole new paradigm. They were innovation in it.

What I saw was you could create your own columns, one column for each step of your sales process. Every time you have a new potential sale, you create a card for them and you move them on column one and then as you progress them through your sales process, you move them from column to column to column until the end.

So, suddenly, we had a clear visual of where our guests where. Suddenly we had a clear visual of how well we’re doing. More importantly, I had stats, I could see that we were spending something like half a year getting somebody to say yes and then finally having them on the site. That’s unacceptable. Your whole life changes in half a year. You forget why you said yes in half a year. So, Pipedrive gave us that kind of data.

Pipedrive showed us where we were dropping people off. It was like the third step in our process where we were losing too many people. All we had to do was add another step. It was like a follow up step. Boom. Our numbers turned around. So, most people who are listening to me are not into booking interviews, but they are into sales.

I am telling you guys, if you’re into closing sales and you want to do it as a collaborative team—you can use it as an independent person, it will give you a good accountability to make sure you’re actually following up with people, show you who you’re not following up with, you’ll get a lot out of it. But as you add more people, you have the ability to collaborate.

For example, I might suggest a guest on the team. Andrea will send them an email. Someone else will actually do the pre-interview and we all get to see where the guest is and our goal is to close them, meaning have the on the site. So, if you’re looking to collaborate, if you’re looking to close more sales, if you’re looking for stats to show you where you’re failing and stats to show you when you’re frankly being lazy or where someone on your team is being lazy, you owe it to yourself to go check out Pipedrive.

I love these—these guys could come in and kick me in the head every day, I will still use it. They can move back to Estonia and be a one-man operation, I will still use it because it’s so good. Go check them out at the special URL where you’re going to signal to Pipedrive that you come in from Mixergy and they will take care of you really well because they know how much I’ve been talking them up and how good I am for their business.

Go check out They’re going to let you try it for 14 days for free. You will close a sale within 14 days if you use it and they’re going to give you 25% off for three months thereafter. Go check out, Go look at the archives. I’ve been raving about them for years before they ever bought an ad. I’m going to rave about them for years after they stop buying ads. I’m grateful to them for being a part of Mixergy and supporting us.

All right. You raised money. You start to go in. You went from having this guy tell you go raise money or go into an accelerator, to suddenly being a machine. You raised $1 million in your seed, $6 million in your—am I right?

Kristel: Yeah.

Andrew: How did you get so good at raising money?

Kristel: Are we good at raising money? How do you know that? I don’t know.

Andrew: That’s not bad. TechCrunch told me. Frankly, they had a whole writeup about you and your raising money and others did too.

Kristel: Businesses are not really about raising money. It’s really about sustainable growing and I think what’s good about the business for Testlio is we’ve been really, really focused on creating revenue since day one. Within series A, we were still profitable and now we’re burning some money to grow the business more aggressively and hire in advance to support the growth, but it’s not about raising money.

Andrew: It’s not. It’s about getting customers to grow. What do you do to get more customers then?

Kristel: So we have a sales organization and in the beginning of this year, which is almost four years after starting Testlio, we decided to hire a marketing team. So, before that, we didn’t do any marketing. Up until that point, it was just our salespeople going after customers and—

Andrew: What was your process back then for getting customers?

Kristel: For getting customers? At first, when I started with Testlio, it was just me selling the product. After we went through the Techstars accelerator program in 2013, I was still the one doing the sales and then at this point, I was just talking with a lot of Techstars companies and I think that’s one of the big benefits—

Andrew: You went through Techstars, is that right?

Kristel: Yes, exactly.

Andrew: So you said, “You know what? All these people are potential customers of ours, I’m going to call them up one at a time.”

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: What was your process for selling them? Was it, “Hey, I went through Techstars. I’ve got a new company. Can I learn from your experience?” That’s what it was.

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: “And then by the way, here’s what we do, do you want to sign up?”

Kristel: Exactly. I just got in touch with them saying, “I’m also a Techstars company. This is what we do. Would you be interested in chatting with me?” There were a lot of companies that were actually interested. I think one of the biggest turning points for us was when—that was in 2014. Until then we were actually just like a services business. So, we didn’t have any subscription revenue.

Our customers came for maybe one cycle or one cycle every two months, we didn’t have any predictability in our model, when after Techstars, I started raising money because I felt that we have this huge momentum. After this accelerator, we should use it. I failed at fundraising. Then a lot of the feedback that I started getting from all these investors was, “Hey, you don’t have a predictable revenue model, right?”

We were just charging customers as a services business and then everything changing in the beginning of 2014 when I met a company in San Francisco called Accompli and they were an email application. I met their founder. He told me that, “Hey, we are building this email application. We would love to use you.”

He actually heard from us—sorry, he saw a guy in a co-working space wearing our hoodie with, “We test mobile apps,” and he actually got like an introduction to me and we met and he told me that, “Okay, I just want to use you for three months. I have this other company in India full of testers and I’m going to give you three months to compete with them.” Then over the three-month period, they obviously realized we are better and then from there on, we started focusing on subscription business.

Andrew: What’s a subscription version? What does somebody get on a subscription that they didn’t get before?

Kristel: The good thing about the testing market is you develop your product and you always have to test and you have to keep the quality high. So our customers that we work today are all coming back to us after every week. So, they test on a weekly basis with us. For example, a lot of our customers do their testing on the weekends. So, for example, they send us their product on Friday evening and get the results back on Monday morning. So, all the magic happens when they are asleep or at the party or whatever.

Andrew: I see. Then from there on, when we got the first subscription business, that’s when I realized what we really need to do to grow this and that’s where our advisor said, “Hey, guys, let’s hire a salesperson who can come in and expand the business.”

Kristel: Yeah, she came in and she’s wonderful.

Andrew: So, when you started to expand, at first it was you calling up people who you know or are connected to in any and seeing if they would sign up. Then there was this random person from Accompli. They ended up selling to Microsoft. I think now they’re the new Outlook. That’s the backbone of Outlook, at least the iOS version of Outlook. Then when you hired the salesperson, what did the salesperson do to take your process to the next level?

Kristel: I think at this point, it was really going after bigger customers, like I was just going after my own network or Techstars network, essentially like full of startups and startups are like we were, very unpredictable. Like you have this goal and sometimes you don’t hit it and then the test cycles were really random and we couldn’t really predict our workflow either. Then she came in and she started immediately talking with bigger companies and that’s where we realized this is where we’d like to go.
Andrew: How’d she get into bigger companies?

Kristel: She was actually working for a company called Appurify before she came to us. Appurify was acquired. Then we got in touch with her.

Andrew: Basically, the companies that she’d worked with before she has access to now.

Kristel: Exactly.

Andrew: That seems like a big thing in the enterprise world. You hire someone who already talked to your customers and then they go back to the customers they worked with before and they say, “I’m working with this new business, can I tell you about it and I think it would be a good ft.

Kristel: Exactly. The Appurify was essentially a cloud testing platform, so you can write your scripts and access real devices on cloud. This company was acquired by Google and then she came in and she really loved our team and she loved the product and she felt that all the customers that she had been working with, they can all benefit hugely from Testlio as well. That’s where she came in and said, “Hey, let’s do this.”

Andrew: As she started to structure your sales department, what did you learn about the way that she structured an enterprise sales department that you could share with us?

Kristel: Maybe the bigger things were like really building out the process, like understanding here’s how many leads I’m going after. Here’s the conversion rate from going from lead to scoping or from lead to demo, to scoping and to actually closing the businesses and building out this entire process.

Andrew: To have a clean process, kind of like what I was talking about having in Pipedrive. She laid that out and then she had a plan for it. What else did she do?

Kristel: Well, at first, it was just us like as she was a single salesperson for us for such a long time, she just went after her personal connections and she was just selling and me personally was like managing projects for quite a long time as well. I was supporting her and that’s how it worked in the beginning. So, it wasn’t as structured as you, I think, are imagining right now.

Andrew: I see. Now it is more structured because as you bring in more people and everyone has a certain number of leads that they need to go after. Where do you get your leads?

Kristel: So we have an outbound sales team that just goes after different customers and then we have a marketing team. So our marketing team today is four people and we just started hiring a marketing team in the beginning of this year.

Andrew: I want to get to the marketing in a moment. The sales team and the outbound, what are they called, SR-something?

Kristel: SDRs.

Andrew: SDRs. So it’s people whose whole job is to go out and find people for your sales team to talk to.

Kristel: Yes.

Andrew: What’s their process for finding those people, is it sending out emails to potential customers?

Kristel: Yes.

Andrew: So, they send out email. They wait to see who responds. As soon as someone responds, they book them with the salesperson and then the salesperson comes on.

Kristel: Yeah, you got it.

Andrew: This is what I’m learning. Did you know that—what’s the guy’s name, Lemkin?

Kristel: Jason Lemkin.

Andrew: Jason Lemkin, he has a co-working space just for sales teams. You know how obsessed he is with SaaS and sales. This is his investment obsession. I didn’t know he had co-working space just for sales teams here in San Francisco.

Kristel: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s one of the things you learn by being here. Then through that, they all get to see how each sell and they learn about these—what do they call it?

Kristel: SDRs, so sales development representatives.

Andrew: Sales development representatives. They send out their emails. They get the people. I see. This is what you now have. So going on to marketing team, the person who contacted me was from an outside agency, Malden Consulting.

Kristel: Yes, Justin Malden.

Andrew: Oh, I see. This is Justin’s company. What he did was he got you—he gets people into the press. So he got you some press here, I see, “Embracing the Valley’s New Mantra, Sustainable Growth.” That’s an article about you complete with a photo by you, which is always the best. You get really good photos. Most people are going to look at the photo, look at the headline and move on. His job is to get you and your story out in as many different outlets as possible.

Kristel: Exactly, but this is only a small part of our marketing team.

Andrew: Yeah. You were starting to talk about it more and I interrupted you. Tell me more about it.

Kristel: Absolutely. Marketing is fairly new for Testlio. But it really fuels into our SDRs’ work. They need to build the brand. They need to build the landing pages. They need to build out the messaging, like how are we selling Testlio and really going out to like conferences, organizing meet-ups and then figuring out where can we get the most leads and where should we invest more. So, right now, we are in a phase of really understanding of like where is the best way for us to go to, like is it meetups? Is it specific dinners for customers, like potential prospects? Is it really the press? We don’t know yet.

Andrew: I see. This is all part of the exploration. It seems like you’ve done more blog posts. You’re smiling. Is that true?

Kristel: Yeah. We do a lot of blog posts. So we have a content marketer internally, then I personally blog a little bit as well. And then we have a couple of writers outside of the Testlio team as well.

Andrew: And when someone’s on your blog, there’s a pop up or I guess it’s a modal pop that comes up and says sign up for blog updates.

Kristel: Yes.

Andrew: I don’t like that. I think you guys can do better than that.

Kristel: Really? Okay.

Andrew: Sure.

Kristel: Thanks for the feedback.

Andrew: No one wants blog updates via email. That’s not enticing enough and then the button says subscribe, which to me feels like be obligated and committee. I think it’s much better—

Kristel: What would you do?

Andrew: You want to hear my feedback on that?

Kristel: I think you should find some kind of guide that relates to what you’re doing and say, “Get this guide,” and then add me to the mailing list at that point. I don’t think that a blog post is enticing enough. I’m trying to see if there’s a guide here you guys offer, like the tip to finding the right tester, what to test, that kind of thing, something that relates to your business.

I think it should be some kind of guide. This has been done for a long time. I’m not inventing something brand new. I think you’re going to find much better response rate from that. I do like how on the bottom of your post, you have a reach out to us for the demo.

Andrew: Yes. What’s

Kristel: So the cool thing is that if you add N in the end of our name, you get Testlion and basically, we call our community members Testlions. We call our internal team members Testlions as well. So, we’re just a big group of Testlions, but Testlions.Testlio is basically like the university for our testers.

Andrew: For your testers. This is how you keep your testers together in your community.

Kristel: Exactly. So we shared the content. Obviously there is a lot more work to do, but this is where we like to really engage them and be proactive and read about the latest strategies and processes and how to become a better tester. That’s why we are called Testlions.

Andrew: All right. I get that. I’m noticing that too. In marketplaces where every man is out for himself, you want to have some kind of online thing where it’s like more of a message board, it feels like, but the people who are matchers have Slack groups for their people because you want more of a bonding. You want more immediate responses. If someone’s having an issue, they need a quick way to talk to the team and to other people, right?

Kristel: Yeah. We do too. So we have our Slack group. We used to manage all of our testers on our platform because we also have a chat system built on our platform and every time when there is a project coming up, the testers can just chat in Testlio. But then we realized that to have more engaging conversations about anything in testing, Slack could be the best option for us. At first, it was just Skype, but obviously Skype didn’t scale and then we added everybody on Slack. So, that’s how we engaged with them. At this point, we’ve also started doing meetups. So, we tried to do them more—

Andrew: For Testlions.

Kristel: Yeah, exactly. And we already have a couple of testers, for example, in Ukraine that have gotten together and chatted about Testlio. That’s how we do it.

Andrew: Cool.

Kristel: Community building is like—community is the heart of any marketplace.

Andrew: Aren’t you worried that they’re going to say, “Hey, look, Testlio is sending you out—how often is Testlio sending you out? Oh, I see, they’re giving you that much business. Why aren’t they giving me as much business as you?” “Hey, you know what, Kristel, I noticed that you’re sending this?”

Aren’t you worried that they’re going to be upset as they find out who you’re sending out more than the other. Aren’t you worried that there are going to be issues when people start to say, “I’m getting paid really well by Testlio but there’s another company that I’m getting paid by too?” All that stuff can happen in private message, you have no access to that.

Kristel: Yeah. Well, this can happen to your internal employees as well, same thing. The way we really engage with our testers is where they understand our value proposition. They see why we’re so much better than any other culture’s testing company. There are so many testers that have come to us and finally feel that we have elevated QA in these organizations that we work with. That’s what is really rewarding for them to be part of this community where QA, we’ve taken it to another level and we really help companies to change the way QA is done.

Andrew: All right. Final question—we sometimes in the pre-interview ask guests about a book that they recommend to the audience. You had one that I’m wondering why, what’s the connection, “Extreme Ownership.” It’s by Jocko Willink.

Kristel: Yeah.

Andrew: What is it about “Extreme Ownership?”

Kristel: You have to read this, seriously, especially if you’re managing a team yourself as well than it’s just a must have. The reason why I love this book and it’s actually one of the books that the Pipedrive founders recommend to all of their employees as well is because the book tells you a story of a US Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink, who’s the author of the book, how he went to battlefields in Iraq and how he had to pull through his team from life to death situations and how leadership changes the dynamics on the battlefield.

Andrew: So what did you take away from that?

Kristel: The biggest thing I took away from it is whenever there is something happening in the company, there is no one else to blame than yourself. You always have to look up to yourself. It always comes down to the leaders. There’s a very interesting story in this book where he was running an experiment. They were basically training. There was a competition. There was one team that was always the last one. Then what they did was they changed the leadership of the first team and put it into the last team that was like the slowest.

Andrew: Yes.

Kristel: And then the last team became the first one.

Andrew: The point is that it’s the leadership. It’s not the team.

Kristel: Exactly. I think it’s a wonderful book. It’s very thought-provoking. I just recommend it to anyone who ever has to manage a team. It really puts things into a different perspective. Seriously, we’re building software companies here, like this guy was on a real battlefield, like there was some tragic loss happening that is influencing him forever. We never run into these situations ourselves. So, I think it’s wonderful.

Andrew: All right. I think I have heard of it before. I don’t think I’ve read it. I’m getting it now. I was looking online to see how I can get it. Strangely, Google showed up Barnes & Noble above Amazon and it took me to a page where Barnes & Noble, which I haven’t visited in a long time, rents out books. I can rent this book for a period of 60 days for $6.84. Barnes & Noble, what is your problem? I can see how they’re experimenting. It’s like $13 to own it on the Kindle. You can get it used online. I’m shocked. I’m rooting for Barnes & Noble, but I feel like it’s kind of a lost cause if this is the way they think. That’s not going to work, people.

All right. Thank you so much for being on here. I’ve learned a lot from you. The website, for anyone who wants to go check it out is Testlio. That’s Test, as in test and L-I-O at the end, basically like Testlion without the N at the end. If only I could have gotten like on this call. Think of how much of a hero I would have been to all the Testlions in the business. But somebody has it and they’re not doing jack with it.

Kristel: Yeah.

Andrew: Let me see if I can figure out who this person is. I go to, one of my favorite sites because it’s very easy to do a quick search and see who owns a site, I was searching one of your referral links. It turns out it’s Marketo. You guys use Marketo for your email, right?

Kristel: We do.

Andrew: I only knew that because they had this masked domain and WhoIs gave me that information. This is a guy—oh, he’s using Perfect Privacy. I’m not going to be able to be a hero here. All right. Well, if you’re listening to me and you own Testlion, she’s got $7.5 million in the bank, call her up. This is where you say, “Andrew, we spent a lot of the money. Our investors don’t want us to change our name.” It’s a great story. Thank you so much for sharing it, for everyone who’s listening.

And if you want to sign up for the two software I talked to you about, the first will set up your forms in an intelligent way, very much like programming without being a programmer. It’s done right. It’s called Formstack. Check them out at And the second company is one that changed our whole business round, added professionalism to our operation, if you’re looking to sell, you should do it, you should sign up for it, you should try it out, you’ll love it like I do. It’s called Pipedrive and if you’re Estonian, you’re especially going to love it. Check them out at Kristel, thanks so much for being here.

Kristel: Thank you so much for having me.

Andrew: Thank you all for listening. Bye, everyone.

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