“Developers are the most finicky, the most vocal and hyper-aware user base. So when your entire product is open for your users to dig into it, and your users are developers, you better invest in the quality of that product. And the quality becomes your marketing.”
Cypress.io‘s CEO Drew Lanham explains that the startup’s tool is software created by developers, for developers. The company was founded in 2014 by technologist Brian Mann, after observing that while computing and application development had changed drastically over the past decade, software testing had not.
Large companies now release thousands of software updates a year, often on a daily basis across their organization. Technology teams aim to move rapidly, iterating on an agile basis and working in parallel so they can sync their code together even faster. But, as Lanham explains, the testing software out there was far outdated for these agile processes.
“A whole chunk of testing is still conducted manually, by large QA teams or the developers themselves. A lot of times, it takes longer to write a test and run it than it did to write the code,” Lanham explains. The biggest player in the automated testing market is a decade-old product architected for server development that Lanham says has not been updated in years.
Cypress aims to fill the gap. The automated front end testing tool allows developers to write tests simultaneous to writing code features, meaning the test takes place during the development process, versus after.
Cypress is open-source, meaning the developers who use it can get under the hood of the tool’s own code, dig into its features, and build their own customizations on top of it. That’s also why Lanham says the team has been so diligent about making sure the product is of the highest quality.
“Instead of spending money on marketing, we’ve spent it on our product,” Lanham shares. All their growth has been organic thus far, driven by word-of-mouth.
And that growth has been significant: Lanham cites that Cypress has been downloaded 2.5 million times and is used by about 14,000 developers monthly, a 20 percent growth month-over-month. Technologists at over 2,500 organizations use the platform including those from organizations like Trulia, GitHub, NASA, The New York Times, Slack and Shopify.
And thus far the tool has been free. But Lanham was brought on the team earlier this year because of his business background: he founded Internet gateway company Encompass, which exited to Yahoo in 2002 for $135 million, then served on the leadership team of Good Technology, which sold to Motorola in 2006 for half a billion. Most recently he led a business unit at Nexidia.
Lanham closed a funding round for Cypress this summer, a $4 million seed which included an investment from Bessemer Venture Partners, one of the largest VC firms in the world. Bessemer has a sizable portfolio in B2D (business-to-developer) startups like Cypress, and will be able to plug the company into this network, Lanham says.
This week, the startup emerged from beta by rolling out tiered pricing — four levels, the first still free, of platform features for organizations that want more access to the testing tool. Pricing is based on number of users and tests, starting at $99 per month.
Lanham is adamant that there will always be a free version, but that upon sharing the additional paid features with current users, many of those organizations have expressed willingness to switch.
Beyond continuing to shape the product, the seed funding will go towards finally bringing on some marketing and sales employees, as well as (of course) additional developers.