For the third instalment of my Testing Digest Blog Series I caught up with Linford Copeland (former Test Manager at Coventry Building Society) and quizzed him on setting up his own Testing Company, how he put his plans into motion, his path so far and what he has in store for us in the future!
Introduce yourself! How did you get into testing?
Hola, I’m Linford Copeland. For a short intro I’m a husband to a beautiful wife and father of two young terrors (aka daughters). I’m learning Spanish (Duolingo is a great app!), allergic to cats and Gin is my current weekend drink of choice. I’m an avid reader, two main genres being self-development and Epic Fantasy.
I’ve been in the Test profession for 8 years. I’ve held job titles of Test Analyst, Test Engineer, Test Lead and Test Manager. Job title aside I consider myself as someone who likes to build quality things and work with quality people. Unfortunately, you haven’t found that one tester in a million who told his teacher he wanted to be a tester at school. After completing a technical apprenticeship in the Telecoms industry, I fell into a role with the testing team as they had a position open at the time.
Looking back, right from the start I was surrounded by fantastic people. I was very lucky to have one person in particular who spent a lot of time mentoring me. I seemed to learn a lot in a relatively short time so thought I must be good at testing and decided to stick at it and build a career.
For those who don’t know, you are branching out and planning on forming your own testing company – when and how did this idea come about? Not many people do know but we’re hoping that changes over the next few months! Yes, I’m super excited to say I’m co-founding a new testing company, Loupe Testware.
I could dive down memory lane to uncover a butterfly effect type moment to answer when we got started with Loupe. Instead I’ll look in the WA group, which tells me it was around the end of January 2018 that we got serious and started planning. Initially it was conversations about how we could create a viable test related company that would support us financially and more importantly give us real purpose.
As for the how did this happen, it started with building what can only be called a near marriage of a working relationship with a colleague, who would turn out to be my business partner. We started to wonder how we would keep doing awesome work together, which led to a conversation about starting a business, so we could for ourselves.
In terms of deciding what kind of business to start it was about reflecting on our strengths and passions then figuring out how we could use those to add value to others. We also thought about the types of challenges are out there for a business to solve.
We’re in that really fortunate position that the testing and thus the broader QA industries are growing and are forecast to keep growing over the next five years. To quote the figures on the blog post Introducing Repoints Software Testing Landscape, “application testing software and services market achieved $32 billion in revenue in 2017 and forecast it to grow to almost $70 billion in 2023”.
Given this there was one option staring us in the face. We chewed on the risks versus benefits then decided to create Loupe Testware, put ourselves out there and help anyone building software build it with quality.
Loupe Testware! That’s a cool name…two things though, what’s the hell is a Loupe, and what’s Testware?
Thanks, we’re glad you love the name
By definition a Loupe (pronounced loop) is “a small magnifying glass used by jewellers and watchmakers”. We like that as it’s a tool used to aid a human in the Quality Assurance process, something we very much recommend during Software Development.
Testware for us is a term that represents everything we either use or create as testers, from test automation frameworks, infrastructure as code scripts, manual test scenario’s, testing charter, execution results etc…. One of our missions is to put the term Testware on the map!
How did you cross paths with your business partner? Are their strengths in joining forces with someone?
My business partner and I work at the same company in permanent positions, but only until we launch Loupe Testware in September.
When joining forces with someone in business I think of it like this, 1+1 != 2, 1+1 = 5. I consider the benefit of a quality business partner to be exponential. The potential growth of the Loupe Testware is exponentially more than it would be when compared with me going it alone. Everyone knows that problems are best solved by more than one person being in a state of healthy conflict (aka open and honest debate with the same underlying purpose). No one built anything great all on their own.
What are the first things you did to make this idea a reality?
The most important thing we did was decide to do it!!!!!!!!!!!!
So far, it’s all been a mental game to take the leap, leave our comfortable day jobs and move into the uncomfortable position of being masters of our own destiny. We committed to each other, we committed to spouses.
Before we had fully committed we even talked to other people at meetups as if it was a sure thing to make it feel real. We thought about the risks, thought about what could go wrong and decided the adventure was worth it anyway.
How has this gone for you so far? Is it how you expected or have there been any struggles/success stories so far along the way?
Loupe Testware is at the inception stage at the minute, it will be a couple of months before we work on the business fulltime. That said we did have a really good commercial discussion with a potential client, for which we put a proposal together. Although we didn’t secure the work, we did get some really positive feedback, as well as some confirmation of the need from the market.
I guess we struggled for a short time to think of a way to fund the business ourselves, which was overcome with a moment of inspiration from my business partner over a beer in the pub one evening. So, we’re providing our services as contractors as a first step.
We are expecting and perhaps weirdly looking forward to is all the struggles, road blocks and curve balls we are sure will be coming our way over the next few years. It’ll tell us that were moving in some direction (hopefully the right one). The experience and planning so far has given us real drive to go and see what we can accomplish!
What are your aims for your company? Do you have an end goal in mind that you are aspiring to?
We don’t have an end game right now. Our aspiration is for Loupe Testware to be the name that people automatically think of when thinking about a great Test or Quality Assurance Company. When that’s happens, we will know we have done some things right and added value!
What advice would you both give for people toying with the idea of setting up their own company?
Get in and around like-minded people.
Read, read, read. Then read some more.
Listen to good podcasts as well or instead of if you really don’t like to read. Particularly good during what Tony Robbins calls NET (no extra time) periods, like when commuting, ironing etc. as it takes no extra time.
The top strictly business piece of advice (as the advice above can apply to non-business stuff) we have had to date is that cashflow is everything for a business. Like air or blood for people, a shortfall will cause one some major distress, a complete lack is terminal. So, figure a way to generate revenue asap and pay the bills.
Last but not least…what will you implement in your company now that you have autonomy?
Right now, there’s only two of us in Loupe Testware, so we’re largely outward facing and thinking about how we can best deliver value to others. As part of that we’re implementing a way of business planning that allows us to run the business with agility right from the beginning.
Well Myself and everyone at Searchability wish you all the best in the future and am sure we will be hearing huge things from Loupe Testware – In the meantime drop Linford a follow on LinkedIn and Twitter @CurlyLinf and keep an eye on their companies journey!