It’s not often you see a single venture capital firm investing $50 million in a Series A round. These usually involve a much smaller number spread across a variety of investors, but Accel saw something in BrowserStack, a mobile and browser testing platform, that’s a bit too successful to warrant the usual early-round startup label.
BrowserStack has built a huge market with over 25,000 paying customers since it was founded in 2011. It has bootstrapped its way into profitability by attracting more than 1.6 million developers to their testing platform, according to information provided by the company. In fact, CEO and co-founder Ritesh Arora says to this point the company has grown entirely by word of mouth.
They tell a similar story to the many testing platforms coming online in recent years. Companies moving to rapid development cycles often don’t have the time frames they once did to perform adequate testing. BrowserStack gives them quick access to a broad set of online testing suites across browser and mobile operating system versions and types.
Many companies spend big bucks building their own testing suites, but these require constant updating and management. The advantage of a system like BrowserStack is that they are updating the platform for their customers and providing a way to automate a wide variety of testing across different environments.
“In-house is a big market. They are still figuring out how to solve the problem. Do they want to outsource? We are just trying to solve the infrastructure problem for testing,” Arora told TechCrunch.
Accel’s Ryan Sweeney admits he’s been tracking BrowserStack for a long time, saying they remind him very much of Atlassian, another company that took aim at the developer tools market and has seen tremendous success. That’s one of the reasons they provided the entire investment. “When we see great companies, we want to go all in. We love working with other firms too, but it made sense to work together,” Sweeney explained about their solo investment
He sees a company with a strong financial picture and a mature market, not something you normally see in Series A. Usually A round startups are still trying to prove their concept could even have a market.
That makes this round, even though it has the A label, more like a later stage investment where the company has established the product-market fit and is trying to find a way to scale that idea. Arora believes the time was right to take venture capital to fund the company’s future growth.
They want to move beyond solely relying on word of mouth marketing that has fueled the company’s growth and establish a more traditional sales and marketing approach that builds on the organic growth that got them to this point.
The company, which has 125 employees spread across three offices in San Francisco, Dublin and Mumbai, plans to double the number of employees over the next year. Customers include a range of big-name companies from traditional giants like Microsoft, SAP, Google, Cisco and IBM to more modern companies like Airbnb, Twitter and Spotify.