Userbrain: 6-digit FFG Funding for the User Testing Startup from Graz
FFG-growth capital to expand marketing activities in the US
“Every second company fails because it develops a product that nobody needs. Usually, the reason for this is that everybody forgets including users from outside in the development of the product. Without the view from outside, you are locked inside your own 4 walls for such a long time that you get stuck in a rut and often lose track completely of the reality around you,” explains Markus Pirker, co-founder and CEO of Userbrain.
From agency to startup
The idea is to put an end to the development of products that are beautiful, but useless or unusable with the User-Testing-Startup Userbrain. The core team of Userbrain consists of 4 founders who have over 10 years of experience in developing user-friendly products through their user experience agency Simplease. The idea for Userbrain is the result of what they learned as service providers for corporations or start-ups. “We have seen time and again that no testing takes place, and that the bad awakening only comes after the launch, when the first customers actually have to use the product. Troubleshooting at that moment is extremely time-consuming and expensive. We looked for a solution allowing to conduct ongoing testing with real people and found nothing on the market,” says Pirker.
Ongoing testing with real people
The platform offers different packages for conducting user tests regularly. The entry price is $69.00 month. After registration, a task is selected for the testers, and within just a few hours the first videos of users trying to use the product for the first time are received. Everything the testers see and do on the site is recorded, but also what they think while speaking out loudly during use. “When watching the videos, you understand above all the why behind the clicks, you learn to think like people who don’t know the product and you build empathy towards your own users,” says Pirker.
“User testing is like sports - you have to do it all the time and sometimes it hurts”
The tests are carried out in weekly cycles so that user feedback can be continuously incorporated into product development. Clients decide for themselves the frequency of the tests and can, for example, intensify testing before the launch of new features. “User testing is a bit like sports. Testing once is good but does not lead to long-term success. To see real progress, you have to run after the ball the whole time and make external feedback a habit – even if it may hurt sometimes.”
User tests from early prototypes to the finished product
Userbrain can be used to test everything that can be accessed via a URL. From websites in live or test operation, prototypes, click dummies or early pencil sketches to newsletters. “What is often forgotten is that the competitor’s site can also be tested – and this is often very interesting, especially for clients in the eCommerce sector,” says Pirker. In this way, it is possible to learn from the mistakes of the competition at an early stage, before the implementation starts and troubleshooting becomes very time-consuming and expensive.
Full service for German-speaking customers
In addition, there is the possibility of usability experts taking over the entire planning, execution and analysis of the tests. Thus, the client already receives concrete solutions for the most serious usability problems and learns what has to be paid attention to when testing the products in the future. “We have noticed that the inhibition threshold for user testing is still very high, especially in the German-speaking market, and we want to make it easier for our customers to get started in this area,” says Pirker.
More than 10,000 user testers worldwide
Userbrain has access to a large pool of its own testers. They receive a notification when new tests are available and conduct the test on their own device, comfortably from the sofa at home or on the way to work. For testers, this means a fast additional income, and for clients, authentic feedback under real usage conditions. “In the first year we often had to look for our testers within the circle of our friends or by posting job ads. In the meantime, however, our pool of testers is already growing organically, especially through recommendations. We currently have over 700 new registrations per month and a pool of more than 10,000 testers,” says Pirker.
Spotify, Red Bull and Virgin as customers
A look at Userbrain’s customer list proves that the concept works. Tesla, Lush Cosmetics, Spotify or Virgin are already testing their products with the online service. Austrian customers such as Red Bull, Kununu and BAWAG P.S.K. have also been convinced by the startup.
However, there is still great growth potential, especially in the US market. “In the future we would like to make the topic “User Testing for Websites” so relevant that there will be no way around Userbrain as the most efficient way to conduct testing.” The funding by FFG, the Austrian Research promotion Agency, which was granted with the AT:net programme of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Digitisation and Business Location, allows marketing activities to be intensified more quickly. “And the fact that even in the tender documents of the FFG user tests are promoted, makes us confident that our product is actually necessary,” Pirker jokes.
For 2018, the company is already working on a major update of the platform, which includes the learnings from over 10,000 user tests conducted and will allow customers to test even more flexibly, target-oriented and above all more efficiently in the future.