App Crowdtesting Startup, Testbirds, Closes €2.1M Series A, Gunning To Become The uTest Of Europe

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Munich, Germany-based mobile and web app crowdtesting startup, Testbirds, which lets companies outsource their app testing to its sizeable network of testers, has closed a €2.1 million ($2.9 million) Series A round, led by Seventure Partners.

The startup, which was founded in late 2011, has previously raised €1 million from a local business angel, making this round its first VC investment.

Testbirds is preparing to extend its reach with tomorrow’s launch of a free Android app for developers to distribute test apps — called BirdFlight — that’s aiming to take advantage of the impending withdrawal of TestFlight from the Android platform, post-Apple acquisition.

Testbirds has more than 25,000 testers signed up to its current crowd-based testing platform — most, but not all of whom are based in Europe — to kick the tyres of companies’ apps for them to help locate bugs and do things like user interface testing.

There are more than 35,000 devices in the Testbirds network able to put native and web apps through their paces, while all mobile OS platforms can be covered by the network. Testbirds’ testers are paid per project, if they receive, accept and fulfill an invitation to do a test. They can also be paid extra the more bugs they find.

As well as core app testing services (including functionality testing, QA testing and usability testing), Testbirds summarises the results of tests for clients, and provides recommendations for tweaking apps to improve usability. So it has a consultancy layer and also offers project management services — all of which is designed to appeal to larger clients.

Testbirds is now preparing to launch a self-service version of its offering that does not include the project management & consultancy layer to make it more affordable to smaller companies and developers. Again, as with BirdFlight, as a way to grow its reach.

Current clients of Testbirds number around 150 and include large media, banking and insurance companies, with BMW, Audi, Red Bull and Allianz named among them. The startup itself has four offices in Europe, and currently employes more than 30 staff across that footprint.

So far, Testbirds’ main markets (in terms of customers) have been German-speaking European nations, according to Philipp Benkler, CEO and founder. But he said it will be using the new funding to help it expand within Europe.

“The majority of clients already come from Germany, Austria and Switzerland,” Benkler told TechCrunch. “We started around nine or 10 months ago with the first international steps. We also have quite a lot in Hungary, we have the first in the U.K., and also a couple in the Netherlands. But the majority — 70%-80% — of the clients are from Germany. But that will obviously change as we’re growing the teams now and focusing also on additional countries besides those five countries.”

“Expanding within Europe that’s the key thing for this investment. Also we’re going to add other services, and also other service levels,” he added, referring to the self-service option Testbirds will be opening up “in the coming weeks”, and also the impending BirdFlight app launch.

“We’re opening our platform for self-service so it’s less consulting, or non-consulting, so that developers can create their own testing projects on our system directly — and they can manage the crowd, also directly, so that’s basically looking good for smaller companies with less budget,” he added.

In the U.S. mobile app crowdtesting is dominated by long-time player Applause (formerly called uTest) which raised a $43 million Series E round back in January. But Testbirds is clearly gunning to be the Applause/uTest of Europe.

“I think they are doing an incredibly good job,” said Benkler of Applause/uTest. “They also started a couple of years earlier than us and their main focus… is the U.S. right now. They want to come over to Europe but the key differentiator is we’re already here in Europe, and we already have a big crowd, which is bigger than the uTest crowd in Europe (not in the U.S.) — so we are closer to the market.

“Also what we realised here is you need a closed consulting with the major clients we work with. So for example if you work for BMW, Audi, Allianz or Redbull you need a closed consulting, a closed key corporate management that you also have to do on site. So I think that’s one of the key differentiators to uTest from the U.S.”

Of course, Testbirds could also end up as an acquisition target for Applause/uTest — as a shortcut to that company expanding its operations in Europe. Asked about that future possibility, Benkler said “we’ll see”.

“We started the company because we wanted to start a great company. An exit now is not really possible, it’s not the first thought that we have when we think about Testbirds,” he told TechCrunch. “You never know what happens — and it’s obvious what uTest is doing, they’re aiming for an IPO within the next 18 months, and then obviously they need marketshare in countries where they’re not strong enough. So we’ll see where that takes us.”