Reflect, a member of the Y Combinator Summer 2020 class, is building a tool to automate website and web application testing, making it faster to get your site up and running without waiting for engineers to write testing code, or for human testers to run the site through its paces.
Company CEO and co-founder Fitz Nowlan says his startup’s goal is to allow companies to have the ease of use and convenience of manual testing, but the speed of execution of automated or code-based testing.
“Reflect is a no-code tool for creating automated tests. Typically when you change your website, or your web application, you have to test it, and you have the choice of either having your engineers build coded tests to run through and ensure the correctness of your application, or you can hire human testers to do it manually,” he said.
With Reflect, you simply teach the tool how to test your site or application by running through it once, and based on those actions, Reflect can create a test suite for you. “You enter your URL, and we load it in a browser in a virtual machine in the cloud. From there, you just use your application just like a normal user would, and by using your application, you’re telling us what is important to test,” Nowlan explained.
He adds, “Reflect will observe all of your actions throughout that whole interaction with that whole browser session. And then from those actions, it will distill that down into a repeatable machine executable test.”
Nowlan and co-founder Todd McNeal started the company in September 2019 after spending five years together at a digital marketing startup near Philadelphia, where they experienced problems with web testing first-hand.
They launched a free version of this product in April, just as we were beginning to feel the full force of the pandemic in the U.S, a point that was not lost on him. “We didn’t want to delay any longer and we just felt like, you know you got to get up there and swing the bat,” he said.
Today, the company has 20 paying customers, and he has found that the pandemic has helped speed up sales in some instances, while slowing it down in others.
He says the remote YC experience has been a positive one, and in fact he couldn’t have participated had they had to show up in California as they have families and homes in Pennsylvania. He says that the remote nature of the current program forces you to be fully engaged mentally to get the most out of the program.
“It’s just a little more mental work to prepare yourself and to have the mental energy to stay locked in for a remote batch. But I think if you can get over that initial hump, the information flow and the knowledge sharing is all the same,” he said.
He says as technical founders, the program has helped them focus on the sales and marketing side of the equation, and taught them that it’s more than building a good product. You still have to go out there and sell it to build a company.
He says his short-term goal is to get as many people as he can using the platform, which will help them refine their ability to automate the test building. For starters, that involves recording activities on-screen, but over time they plan to layer on machine learning and that requires more data.
“We’re going to focus primarily over the next six to 12 months on growing our customer base — both paid and unpaid — and I really mean that we want people to come in and create tests. Even if they [use the free product], we’re benefiting from that creation of that test,” he said.