Why Did I Do It?
Reminiscing the time when MagenTys started 12 years ago, I am not sure I necessarily had dreams of becoming my own boss nor the freedom (both financially and time) that running a successful business can potentially bring. However, I did feel an intrinsic desire to do something different and build something meaningful, rather than plod along as just another contractor in the IT industry. No disrespect to contractors, they earn a fantastic living and I had some great years. But I felt it was time to take the plunge and make the dreaded leap of faith from a well paid comfort zone into uncharted shark infested waters. For most people, pub talk on business dreams fade into oblivion whilst enjoying a hangover, whilst mine became a reality (and sometimes a rather harsh and expensive one). To quote the founder of LinkedIn “You jump off a cliff and you assemble an airplane on the way down”.
Why A Software Testing Company?
In simple terms, Testing was my trade and that’s all I knew. Simple rule for Start Ups, do something whereby you have a modicum of experience, industry knowledge and contacts to give yourself a cat’s chance in hell to succeed. Myself and the other 3 like minded founders recognised a gap in the market for a specialised and very boutique Software Testing consultancy. We believed we could offer something very different to the large outsourced ‘bums on seats’ consultancies that dominated the market at the time.
How Did MagenTys Get Going?
Good question! Often you just don’t know where to start. We bought a name from Company House for 50p (who would become a future flagship client!), got ourselves a logo, a website and some business cards. We put together a business plan written on the back of a cigarette packet, which was difficult because none of us actually smoked. Then, heaven forbid, we actually won our first client, all down to an existing relationship between one of the directors and a large insurance company (in essence, we snuck in the back door without anyone noticing…). And from that point on, we never looked back.
What Have Been The Challenges?
Everything! Before MagenTys, I spent my working hours writing Test Strategies and Testing code, and then would venture home without a care in the world. My previous commercial experience and degree in Mathematics did not prepare me at all for the challenges faced in running an actual business. To be honest there were times when I felt we were caught with our pants down and the tide was out. We had to win business against fierce competition, survive recessions, adapt quickly to changes in technology (Agile, BDD, DevOps, Automation) and market conditions, manage cash flow (nightmare!), maintain belief, hire the right people, develop a brand out of nothing and most importantly keep clients and staff happy. In regards to staff, I love all our guys, but these Millennials? Are they really from planet Earth? And to top it all, the owners have done exceptionally well not to kill each other….however the love and respect still remains strong despite our differences (well, sometimes anyway…).
Was It Worth It?
We have witnessed progression from a conversation in a London pub to becoming a well established and respected company, running offices from London UK and Perth Australia. We have become pioneers in Test Automation, BDD and DevOps, and have developed our own Test Products to compliment our services. MagenTys exists to help clients continuously deliver quality software faster. Given that IT runs industry and software is becoming more and more complex, we have an important role to play. It seems a long time ago we were just doing Testing, operating under a flawed business model. I do genuinely believe we have created a fun but very serious company, one that I wished I had worked for when I left University. Am I proud of our achievements? Definitely yes. Is there need for continual improvement? Absolutely, that will never change regardless. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Stressful? Don’t even go there! Whilst we’ve never been a sinking ship at any one point, we’ve certainly taken on a lot of water over the years. However, would I advise people to start up their own business? Without doubt. A consultancy in the IT services industry? Maybe not…it’s a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into it for little reward at times, just being honest. My advice is if you have a great product, try and develop that, much less hassle overall but if not…welcome to the jungle!
In simple terms, articulated perfectly by Sir Richard Branson “A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better”. I say go and do it, but maybe try and assemble some of your airplane before you jump off that dreaded cliff.
For more random ramblings or topics on BDD/Test Automation/DevOps by our more interesting staff, then check our blogs.