Interview with Nikita Fedorov, Founder & CTO at Qase.io
Nikita Fedorov is an entrepreneur and professional with over 13 years of experience in web development, software testing and automatization.
As a founder of Qase.io, he became one of the first entrepreneurs to launch an innovative test management platform.
Alongside his team, he reduced product testing time from 2 days to 2 hours, fully automated all processes, rebuilt teams into cross-functionality and built a process of continuous product delivery.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I’m a serial entrepreneur and tech professional. I’ve been doing web development, software testing and automation for over 13 years, specializing in customer development, team management and product development.
I started three successful businesses before founding Qase, but this is the first one that was a passion project for me, so I’m thrilled with its continued growth and expansion.
How did your entrepreneurial journey begin?
My first business was a software development studio, and my second was a restaurant. In both cases, I jumped in the deep end, so to speak.
These markets were outside my expertise, but I decided to try them out anyway. They succeeded and became profitable, but I ended up closing both ventures in the long run.
My current career path began with a job as a PHP developer. I started working in a national hosting provider in 2016 as the head of web development, then later moved on to Avito, where I was a team tech lead for their billing systems.
While I was with Avito, my team accomplished quite a lot. We cut product testing time from two days to two hours, figured out how to eliminate chargeback frauds costing the company hundreds of thousands every month, and fully automated all processes.
However, I kept encountering the same problem: No simple test management system fulfilled my needs. I wanted to track manual and automated tests with a single tool, and it just didn’t exist.
The available solutions primarily focused on manual testing, and they all appeared outdated to me. Since I had the knowledge and need, I decided to create the platform I wanted.
Let’s move on to Qase.io. Kindly tell us about the company and its services.
Qase is a modern TestOps platform that allows users to manage all software testing activities across the development lifecycle.
It seamlessly integrates with any DevOps stacks and supports almost all existing software testing frameworks, so it’s suitable for any company that wants to streamline and improve its QA processes.
We offer flexible subscription tiers that range from free essential services with community support and simple tools to enterprise solutions that include dedicated support managers and more advanced controls.
We currently have over 100,000 B2B users, including brands like Crypto.com, Wolt and Asana. Our headquarters are located in Austin, TX, and we have 27 team members.
What inspired you to start your own software development company?
My goal was to meet a market need that had no suitable solution. I didn’t like any of the TMS tools that were available then, and I thought there was a good chance that other QAs and developers felt the same way. Since I had the skills and interest, I decided, “why not try?”
I spent two years developing Qase while working at my day job. In 2018, I realized an entire community of people was looking for a platform like mine, so I decided to test it out.
In no time, I had gained 100 users and seen plenty more interest. For two years, I’ve seen sustainable growth in users and revenue. In 2020 I realized that it was a perfect time to quit my day job and make Qase my career.
What challenges have you faced when growing your company?
The thing about entrepreneurship is that there are always challenges. Some days it can feel like there is nothing but challenges! I just try to remind myself that the risks are high, but the rewards are just as high.
It was difficult to develop my platform because I was still working a “regular” job too, so it often felt like I was burning the candle at both ends.
On top of that, I was nervous about launching the platform. However, the world is divided into creators and consumers.
I’ve always felt that I’m a creator. I have this deep itch to create something new and make the world a little better, which allowed me to take the plunge and make Qase my career.
All startups face growing pains, but I was fortunate to have previous experience to help guide me through the early stages of developing the company.
How has your company evolved over the years?
The company started as a side project I was working on in my spare time. When I finally launched it two years later, it quickly grew to 100 users.
After that, it was a steady upward trajectory, and we were fortunate to gain bigger and bigger clients with only word-of-mouth recommendations. Fast forward to now, and we have over 100,000 B2B users.
What are Qase.io’s core values?
Qase was built on the premise of simplicity and quality, which are values the company still holds today.
Quality is our top priority in everything we do, and that comes from consistently putting user happiness first.
We have five core values in our company:
- Results start with you.
- Move fast
- Win as a team
- Keep it simple
- Learn from failures
I like to tell our team to work as if the users are paying our salaries because, in a sense, they are. If we continue to solve their problems well, they are willing to pay well, allowing us to keep doing what we love.
8. What are your plans for the future?
Initially, Qase was started as a simple test case management solution, but it has evolved into a brand new type of tool for QA and development teams: a TestOps platform. We are adding new features almost every day.
In 2023, we are going to continue improving our platform and launch a few complementary AI products plus the first apps marketplace in the software testing world.
9. What was the inspiration behind becoming an entrepreneur?
I’m a creator at heart. I am passionate about improving the world and developing new solutions to our problems.
Qase started as a passion project for me in response to a problem I had experienced firsthand, but it grew bigger once I realized there was a market need for the platform I had created.
Tell us about some of your failures and what you learned from them.
My goal was to hire a great techie who could, in turn, hire a great team. Although he recruited a lot of great techies, he couldn’t choose people who could hire others.
Finding people who are able to recruit others is very important to scale a business. It is crucial to not only have good line people but also those who can grow with the business.
What do you believe are the key things to consider before starting a business?
The three primary considerations should be the user, the problem and the solution. Getting a complete picture of the market and potential user base is essential before you consider launching.
You also need to articulate what specific problem your company has set out to solve. The more you can settle into a niche, the better your chances are of creating a successful, appealing solution.
Finally, don’t spend too much time perfecting your solution before launch. Get it into the hands of the people, and let them tell you what needs to be improved.
Their needs are often different than what you expect, so this keeps you from wasting time and resources on fixing things your users don’t care about.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own company?
The idea of work-life balance is a myth for entrepreneurs first starting out. Rather than trying to avoid burnout, I say, “burn out with a twinkle.”
By this, I mean you should prepare for this project to consume your life for a time and take whatever moments of rest you can get when the opportunity arises. The faster you can get on your feet, the sooner you can start working more “normal” hours.
Do you have any success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Find people to support you (friends, family, colleagues, other entrepreneurs). It helps make the difficult times feel more bearable to know you’re not in the trenches alone.
Also, remember that you won’t always find the right market fit the first time. It often takes perseverance and a few pivots to get your company where you want it to be.
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