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Kristel Kruustük: Estonia should be considered as an expansion base to conquer the world

One of the shiniest stars in the Estonian tech sky, Kristel Kruustük, founder of Testlio, suggests other businesses should consider Estonia as an expansion base to start conquering the Universe.

“Estonian people are very straight-forward, they are ready to do the job. And they are excited about it,” Kristel Kruustük, Founder and Chief Testing Officer at Testlio explained.

“The second thing is definitely Estonian people’s know-how. Within a very short amount of time we’ve been independent, a lot of companies have started out from Estonia and gone global. Just to name of view: Pipedrive, Skype, Starship Technologies, Cleveron. All these amazing companies. There is a huge amount of know-how here that I think you can´t really find anywhere else.”

 

With an entrepreneurial spirit, great government services, exceptional technology, smart people, and a pro-family environment, Estonia is an excellent location for a hybrid software/services/network company like Testlio. According to the World Economic Forum, Estonia is the #1 in Europe for entrepreneurship; 99% of citizen services are available online; According to PISA tests, the results of Estonian 15-year-olds are among the strongest in the entire world; Estonia was recently listed as #1 in the world for living a connected life; UNICEF ranked Estonia at the top of its list for family-friendly policies.

Testlio – the leader in managed app testing

Testlio has a 65-members core team based all over the world with access to 4,000 validated freelancer testers from more than 100 countries. Software developers, designers, and product managers build the proprietary testing software that makes Testlio possible. Services delivery experts ensure exceptional client experiences. Nearly 60% of the leadership team works in Estonia.

Founded 7 years ago, Testlio has 1.5 billion monthly users now and clients like American Express, Microsoft, Hotels.com, and the NBA. Testlio works by providing a combination of robust client services, a global network of thousands of validated testers, and a comprehensive software platform.

The journey of Testlio

According to Life in Estonia magazine, Kristel Kruustük, having worked as a tester herself, and being disillusioned how testers were treated by big app-building companies, came up with the idea of building a platform that would actually  appreciate the work of testers – if you find a critical mistake and draw attention to it, you are also likely to be motivated to fix it – thereby providing development teams with quality-assurance (QA) testers. The year then was 2012.

Kristel Kruustük shared her thoughts with her then-boyfriend, later cofounder and today’s husband Marko Kruustük. They signed up for a London based event, Angelhack. They made it to the top three and were flown to San Francisco for the finals, where they won the global hackathon with a seed investment of $25 000 and a first paying customer.

In early 2015 they raised a “party round” of $1 million from a number of individual seed investors in Silicon Valley.  But this was just a beginning. In April 2016 Testlio announced a round of $6.25 million led by well-known VC-firms Altos Ventures and Vertex Ventures.

“When we started Testlio in London, then moved to Austin for the Techstars Accelerator, then grew a presence in Silicon Valley, we weren’t sure where Testlio would be centered,” said Marko Kruustük, Cofounder & COO of Testlio. “But now, after 5+ years of growth and success, it’s clear that Estonia is the right focal point for Testlio’s global ambitions. Kristel, my wife and cofounder, and I have fully returned home to live, and raise our young family, in Estonia.”

How does testing work

“Every day I wake up I think of my mission to offer best jobs for testers around the world,” Kruustük admitted. “It’s not so much about the number of testers we have but to have the best testers in the network.”

It’s unlikely that Testlio will ever run out of work, since there is no such thing in the world of software as a product without bugs. Testlio tests big apps that have millions of users and pays attention to those bugs that have been noted the most. Being not merely a testing factory, Testlio actually helps to improve the products by trying to give feedback within 24 hours, because most stable clients like to do their development during the week and use Testlio’s service over the weekend, so they can start the new week with a “clean sheet” with no bugs.

Time to shine

It is also true that Kristel Kruustük owes a lot of her success to her shiny personality, her infinite positive attitude and passion for testing, that attract attention in seconds. With those qualities, she has had a lot of impact on the growth in the number of woman founders in the Estonian startup scene. This autumn, Krustük’s brilliant energy could be seen shining on the stage of Estonian Entrepreneurship Award Gala as she was co-hosting the show together with actor Sergo Vares (see cover photo).

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