"When you're building a product, it’s important to understand how people think, what makes them happy"
Oren Rubin, the founder and CEO of Testim.io, speaks to Michael Matias about AI's growing importance to the field of product testing
Product testing for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and tangible objects is an extremely important step in the production process, and as Oren Rubin, founder and CEO of Testim.io explains, the same thorough procedures are vital for tech organizations. Rubin developed a passion for helping others at a young age and strived to find an occupation where he could help individuals on a large scale. While working at multiple prominent tech companies, Rubin learned how costly it can be if proper testing is not conducted and ultimately recognized a dire need for the process to be automated. It was at this moment that Rubin knew he could positively impact thousands of users and businesses by delivering a product that addressed this pain point, and Testim was born. Now, companies are able to reach consumers even sooner with efficient, automatic testing processes, a feat that Rubin himself thoroughly enjoys and takes great pride in.
Oren, you have a beautiful journey from IBM to WIX to Applitools to now Testim.io. Tell me a little bit about yourself and how did you even get involved with testing?
First of all, you’ll notice that it goes from bigger companies to smaller ones. In IBM, I was employee 330; at Cadence, I was employee number 5,000; at WIX, I was employee 151; at Applitools, I was employee number 1; and at Testim.io, I was employee number 0.
And slowly through that funnel, you're getting closer and closer to this idea of quality and architecture, right?
Quality was always there around me. When I was working at IBM as an engineer, things needed to be tested, and I loved making sure we delivered high quality. At Cadence as a compiler engineer, we had a special language that the users, who were our testers, used during testing, and to understand what they were doing, I needed to understand test automation. And when I joined WIX, everything was tested manually, and it wasn’t that simple to make the change. I worked closely with the co-founders and engineers to shift from manual testing to full CICD.
How difficult was it to take WIX from manual testing to automated testing?
In WIX, it was a little bit easier because they were just building a new product. But (for a successful transition), you need to convince people that their way of thinking should be different, so you need to find out who are the people who can move something inside the organization, who are the champions, who are the people you need to get excited. And eventually you will have a majority of people who are rooting for that and will start pushing toward that and make the change.
Why is testing important?
You always test, even if you don’t already know about it. The question is are you testing it or are your users? Bugs hurt your business. It’s critical that you make sure your product does exactly what you want it to do.
What’s wrong with the ideology of writing manual tests?
There’s not enough humans in the world to run all the tests you need. The machines do it much better than us. You’re going to miss some stuff, and the machine is not going to miss that. And when it comes to testing, the earlier you find a bug, the cheaper it is to fix it. So, if you find it just before production or a month earlier, then that's a great improvement in ROI.
Why are you focused on automatic testing and helping organizations around the world to better test and do it in a more fun and scalable way?
I love helping people, and I needed to understand what is the best thing I can do to help people and affect as many as possible. If you work for one company, you help them, but if you deliver a product that can help thousands of companies, then you can help the world. It started with that. Then you find out what are their challenges, what are their pains. The most important thing to remember is you start the conversation not by explaining what their product does, you start out explaining what the pain of the other person is. When you have a product that answers someone’s pain, they want to buy it. It starts with you solving a real challenge.
What is the solution that you came up with that could solve the problem of testing for a lot of people?
I saw most people hadn’t gotten started with automation testing. I noticed a trend where code was moving from the backend to the front end, and critical parts of business logic were moving to the front end, but nobody knew how to test it. This was a trend that was going to spike. So I figured out how we could utilize current modern technology like AI to fix this problem.
What is the product that you've been working on for the past few years?
We saw we needed to help with end to end testing. One of the biggest challenges is that the UI keeps changing all the time and the application also keeps changing. For a human using manual testing, you can’t remember every click of a button that you have in your test because there are thousands of them, but computers can quickly and efficiently sort through different attributes and features. We took the pain people had, wanting to do tests quickly and the challenge of test flakiness, and took those challenges and found a solution that solves those questions.
And that solution becomes Testim.io based out of San Francisco.
Yes, that’s the beginning. The more customers you have, the more you understand exactly what they want and see more challenges. You understand their challenges, and you can offer a feature which is much better. For example, if there is a challenge of duplications, we use the same technology to help customers find duplications and solve that problem.
You're developing products that don’t exist, taking pain points that do exist, and you're creatively finding solutions for them through Testim.io. So, how does that process look like?
It helps that I’ve been in this domain for a long time. You need to build trust within the community. Before we even had a product, there was a company that was willing to pay $60,000 just based on the sketches I showed them, and I think they trusted me because they saw me build a product from idea to a real product at Applitools. You need to work closely with the customers from day zero and ongoing. You have one thing to ask in the beginning: What are your goals? And how can I make you the happiest person in the universe? It's also very important when you're building a product to start understand how people think, what makes them happy, and where they want to be; you also need to balance that with what makes the company or the manager happy.
Where do you see this idea of test-first and test-driven mentality going in five to ten years in terms of development?
Developers will be much more connected to what's going on in production all the time. They’ll also know what their users are doing, and if there is a software bug, they’ll know exactly what the scenario is automatically, but that would probably be in 10 or 20 years. After that, I think we’ll be able to test more or define the scenarios when you're talking about the product: here is what I want the product to be, and here's my test, automatically generated. It will be there.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
I love learning. I am enjoying myself because I am learning every day. Things that I think people don't know about me is that I play the electric guitar, I love rock, and I play Bughouse chess every day, where you play 2 vs 2. It’s not just about technology and ideas and cracking the optimal solution about how to beat your opponent. You have a partner, and you need to talk to them to tell them what you need, and you need them to help you out and you help them. This is what I love most. Working with people and bringing that all together.
Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the author of Age is Only an Int: Lessons I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur. He studies Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University, while working as a software engineer at Hippo Insurance and as a Senior Associate at J-Ventures. Matias previously served as an officer in the 8200 unit. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their journeys and experiences.
Contributing editors: Michael Matias, Amanda Katz