QASymphony is having a really good year. They rang in a record-breaking second quarter, and, this week, added $3 million in financing to boost their global expansion.* Their year-over-year revenue growth is nearly 200% and their first annual user conference, Quality Jam, attracted over 200 attendees. They also have received numerous accolades, including a Stevie Award and the Red Herring Top 100. Oh, and they just opened a London office. You’re not alone, our jaws are dropping over this Atlanta startup, too.
With new enterprise customers including, Boeing, Air Canada, DuPont, Sony and many more, this innovative test management platform is helping development teams deliver quality software across 20 countries. Part of their winning strategy? A great marketing plan led by their CMO, Jeff Perkins.
Perkins tells Hypepotamus about his journey to QASymphony, why having a world-class website is essential to build your brand, and how he plans to power even more punch over the next year.
What was your journey to QASymphony and how have you watched it grow?
QASymphony officially started in 2011 and it spun out of a company called KMS. They have a big office here. The two founders are Josh Lieberman, who is local to Atlanta, and then Vu Lam, who is out in San Francisco. Josh and Vu ran kind of an offshore product development and testing outsourcing company that’s located in Vietnam. Vu is Vietnamese, he moved here when he was 11 during the Vietnam War. He’s had a really good career starting companies and selling companies. He started KMS and he saw this need for better tools for software testers. He decided to build it.
We keep adding a lot of A players to our executive team, it’s been great. We’ve come a long way, at least on the marketing side since I’ve been here. When I started, we kind of had a pretty bad website, we had a sub-optimal digital presence overall, and we’ve kind of overhauled everything. We have really strong SEO now, we have a great website, and you can see us at all of the industry conferences. Our marketing role, in a lot of ways, is to make sure that if people are considering the products that we have, the testing tools that we have, that we’re on the short list and they’re going to reach out to us. From that perspective, we’re doing a very good job there.
QASymphony has a great reputation for leadership. What advice do you have to marketers wanting to bring their company to that next level?
I think it’s a couple of things because I came out of bigger enterprise and this is kind of my first startup. One of things I’ve always really focused on are what things are broken or what things need to be fixed that will move the business. I think a common mistake a lot of marketers make is that they will come in, they’ll say, “All right, we need to revamp this whole program or this whole project. It’s going to be an 18-month process.” Whereas I always approach things as quick wins. Right away when I came in here, I saw “Okay, we don’t have a very good website that’s telling our story.” I know from every industry study that you read that customers generally are doing all their research online. If you don’t have a good website and you’re not really strong in the search engines, you’re going to missing out on a lot of opportunities to influence people during the buying process.
Those are really two things I took on right away as far as making sure our website was really a world-class website. We wanted to showcase our product in the right way, talking about our company in the right way, and then making sure that the search engines understood that, as well, and then we were ranking well for all the key terms for the categories we were in. That’s not a quick process, but that’s something that we had to take on right away to really make the difference.
The other part is getting the right people. You think about the tech stack, but I talk about a people stack. You need to have the right people on your team to be able to do the things that you want to do because I do a lot of work myself, I’m very involved in kind of writing a lot of the content on our website, but I can’t do everything. Marketing today is so diverse that I don’t think any marketer has every skill that you can possibly have.
A lot of it is just getting the right team members in place and then also the agencies that will complement the team members. We have worked with a small agency called Narwhal, and they’ve been awesome. We’ve filled in all these gaps and now we have a strong people stack that helps us accelerate all the way, so we can move the business forward.
Why did you decide to go from the enterprise world into the startups?
I was always in these companies where I always building something. At AutoTrader, I started the B2B marketing team within that company; I got to build it from the ground up. At PGI, the marketing department had been decimated. They had fired the previous CMO and they were in a big rebuilding mode. I always liked just rolling up sleeves and trying to go in and build stuff. I thought that lends itself well, not just in big companies, also, probably even in a bigger way to smaller companies. I had seen what was going on over at Tech Village. I was enamored by what was happening over there. When this opportunity came up, it seemed to be the right opportunity at the right time. It was a company that needed some marketing help, but had a really good product and was just getting going. I thought I could come in here and help them accelerate.
What is it like to lead a business in Atlanta?
Atlanta is a great place to be a startup right now. There’s a vibrant startup community, everybody wants to work in a startup in Atlanta. I have a lot of friends in San Francisco and I think it’s probably got that similar vibe going for it, just a little smaller. I look at our team here and we have a lot of really smart young people who could probably go and get jobs at Delta or Home Depot or Coke, but they choose to come here and to work here because it offers, I think, more fun, more challenges and actually more opportunity for people at a junior level to progress their careers faster. There’s nothing here that says you need an MBA or you need to have five years; it is really a meritocracy. If you’re doing good work, if you’re helping grow the business, you will get promoted, you will get more money, you’ll get more stock. That’s all very exciting.
Where do you guys see QASymphony over the next 12 months?
We have a really exciting product roadmap coming out over the next 12 months. I think when we look at what’s got us to where we are today with over 8,000 users, over 300 customers in 20 countries, a lot of it is built on what is our Qtest, our test case management software, and it’s a really good software. We have a lot of new software that’s coming out on our roadmap that I think is going to be even more exciting. The first is going to launch in September and it’s an analytics tool that really solves a big problem that people in development and IT leaders have, which is they don’t have good visibility into what the testing team is doing. They don’t have good reporting on what the testing team is doing. The people who are leading the testing team, they are stuck doing a lot of manual exporting Excel sheets and putting files together and building their own charts.
We have a tool coming out that’s called Qtest Insights and that’s going to basically revolutionize the way that people look at analytics related to their software testing activities. I think it’s kind of a game changer for them – the ability to have really robust reporting and reports that you can just share easily. [You can] share a link, instead of having to create a lot of this custom stuff in Excel that’s quickly out dated. It’s always real time, it’s always updated and it’s shareable with your executive team.
Learn more about Jeff Perkins from his recent participation in Atlanta’s CMO Breakfast, a monthly event sponsored, in part, by Hypepotamus:
*Article updated to reflect 10 August 2016 news, “Bridge Bank Provides QASymphony $3 Million Credit Facility to Finance Company Growth.”