TestBox nabs $10M seed to expand platform for software purchase testing

TestBox, an early stage startup, has a goal of making it easier to test software you want to purchase in your own environment. What’s more, it comes pre-populated with synthetic data that is similar to yours.

Today, the company announced a $10 million seed round to continue building the solution.

For now, the company is concentrating on helping customers test popular customer support software with plans for expanding into sales and marketing tools in the coming months, and eventually other software categories.

“Our goal was always to focus on one software category to begin with and really understand that category, and build a playbook there before we expand into any additional categories. We’re very fortunate to have our playbook down now within the customer support software category,” company co-founder Sam Senior told me.

He said that their original vision was to be a testing marketplace where companies could come and find the software they want to test and simply run it, but he’s finding sales teams are asking to use test boxes for their company’s products.

“We’re also finding that sales reps are saying that our version of their product is a much easier, much more intuitive version of a proof of concept than they can build for their own prospects. And they’re actually starting to use TestBox when they talk to a prospect and the prospect says ‘hey, I need a trial environment or proof of concept demo’, and they get direct access to it now through a click of a button when they get a test box for their customer,” he said.

To encourage this activity more, the company is releasing a new product called TestBox for Sales, which enables them to provide a fully configured trial environment for their prospects “We didn’t try to sell this – our partners asked for it, so we built it. They are replacing other click-through demo platforms with TestBox,” he said.

One interesting aspect of the product is that it uses GPT3 technology to build a synthetic data set  based on the types of data that you would find in that particular type of software. So in customer software, that would include customer name, items the customer has bought, the last interactions and so forth.

This gives the customer a way to test the viability of the product in their own environment, using data that is similar to theirs, but without using actual customer data.

The business model works this way: The test box is free for potential customers to use, but if they buy it, TestBox gets a cut of the sale and in some cases, the recurring revenue from that sale.

The company currently has 15 employees, up from six when we spoke to the company last year at this time about its $2.7 million pre-seed funding. With the new funding and new requirements, the company is looking to expand further.

He says that DEIB is a big part of how he builds his team. “It’s a really big component of building our team, and if you look at our team page, I’m really proud to feel like we have a representative sample of humans across North America. We invest in it very deeply. And it does mean it takes time to hire, but we need to keep doing that,” he said. The company also has a diverse board to further reflect those values.

Today’s round was led by Felicis Ventures with participation from SignalFire and Firstminute Capital. The company has now raised approximately $13 million.

TestBox launches with $2.7M seed to make it easier to test software before buying

When companies are considering buying a particular software service, they typically want to test it in their own environments, a process that can be surprisingly challenging. TestBox, a new startup, wants to change that by providing a fully working package with pre-populated data to give the team a way to test and collaborate on the product before making a buying decision.

Today the company announced it was making the product widely available and a $2.7 million seed round from SignalFire and Firstminute Capital along with several other investors and industry angels.

Company co-founder Sam Senior says he and his co-founder Peter Holland recognized that it was challenging for companies buying software to test it in a realistic way. “So TestBox is the very first time that companies are going to be able to test drive multiple pieces of enterprise software with an insanely easy-to-use live environment that’s uniquely configured to them with guided walk-throughs to make it really easy for them to get up to speed,” Senior explained.

He says that up until now, even with free versions or free testing periods, it was hard to test and collaborate in that kind of environment with key stakeholders in the company. TestBox comes pre-populated with data generated by GPT-3 OpenAI to test how the software behaves and lets participants grade different features on a simple star rating system and provide comments as needed. All the feedback is recorded in a “notebook,” giving the company a central place to gather all the data.

What’s more, it puts the company buying the software more in control of the process instead of being driven by the vendor, which is typically the case. “Actually, now [the customer gets to] be the one who defines the experience, making them lead the process, while making it collaborative, and giving them more confidence [in their decision],” he said.

For now, the company plans to concentrate on customer support software and is working with Zendesk, Hubspot and Freshdesk, but has plans to expand and add additional partners over time. It has been talking with Salesforce about adding Service Cloud and hopes to have them in some form on the platform later this year. It also plans to expand into other verticals over time like CRM, Martech and IT help desks.

Senior is a former Bain consultant who worked with companies buying enterprise software, and saw the issues first-hand that they faced when it came to testing software before buying. He quit his job last summer, and began by talking to 70 customers, vendors and experts to get a real sense of what they were looking for in a solution.

He then teamed up with Holland and built the first version of the software before raising their seed money last October. The company began hiring in February and has 8 employees to this point, but he wants to keep it pretty lean through the early stage of the company’s development.

Even at this early stage, the company is already taking a diverse approach to hiring. “Already when we have been working with recruiting firms, we’ve been saying that they need to split the pipeline as much as they can, and that’s been something we have spent a long, long time on. […] We spent actually six months with an open role on the front end because we are looking to build more diversity in our team as quickly as possible,” he said.

He reports that the company has a fairly equitable gender and ethnic split to this point, and holds monthly events to raise awareness internally about different groups, letting employees lead the way when it makes sense.

At least for now, he’s planning on running the company in a distributed manner, but acknowledges that as it gets bigger, he may have to look at having a centralized office as a home base, at least.