Untested Beta

“So, where are you from?” he said.

I looked up at the speaker — late–20s, curly dark hair, and a few days past his last encounter with a razor. “Cincinnati,” I said. “You?”

“Boston.”

We’re nerds at October’s Release Notes conference in Indianapolis, each checking to see if the other was a potential customer. He develops apps and I’m looking for beta test work. It’s a match, maybe.

That scene played itself out multiple times over the course of a two-day conference, where eleven speakers shared experiences building applications and businesses with over 140 attendees, many of them my heroes. Here I am in the midst of an Upgrade sandwich.

Myke Hurley (l) and Jason Snell

Initially I registered for the conference to meet people I hold in high-esteem. But the conference was about building businesses, and lately I’ve had an itch I wanted to scratch. Sitting around with nothing to do in the winter is boring, and bad for my health.

After some soul-searching, the concept of beta testing exploded out of my brain. During my two years at a dot-com start-up, I’d done my share of testing. Then I spent eight years at a market research company where half my job was QAing the work of other programmers. I’m experienced!

I went to the conference with loosely formed ideas. When asked why I was attending I struggled to get through my “origin” story; I did not have an elevator pitch. Thankfully, by the end of the week I’d edited myself to, “I’m starting a beta test business.”

Now I’m thinking about business plans, marketing strategies, and the processes of doing best-in-class beta testing. Presenters and attendees shared their knowledge. Now it’s up to me to make this happen.