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In today’s increasingly technology-driven business world, AI tech and smart design software are becoming an everyday tool for businesses and enterprise technology companies. Also becoming a new venture for many businesses is outsourcing testing for new software through testing solution companies. Based out Traverse City, Michigan, a fresh face in the software testing industry and founded in 2019, Loop Software & Testing Services (STS) takes new and alternative approaches to testing and customer assistance to bring their clients the best in software testing and application. Despite it’s relatively small size, Loop STS serves clients located around the United States as well as overseas, and has recently made big advancements in their service capacity and overall success rates in big part to their leadership within the company.
Software testing is the process of verifying and validating that a software or application is bug free, meets the technical requirements as guided by its design and meets the user requirements effectively and efficiently. Software testing aims to find faults in the existing software but also to find measures to improve a given software in terms of efficiency, accuracy and usability. Its main function is measuring specification, functionality and performance of a software program or application. There are thousands of testing companies across the globe.
A 2013 graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in political science, Loop STS CEO Ben Fellows worked in the government sector before seeking a much a needed change of pace, eventually landing a job as a project and quality assurance manager with GeoTix Internet Solutions, he also worked with Traverse Magazine’s website MyNorth and testing their online ticketing system. Throughout over four years with GeoTix, Fellows found a passion in software testing and analysis, helping to grow a key role in growing GeoTix from a two-person team within a parent company to a staff of 22 operating as its own entity, raising multiple financing rounds and seeing fantastic growth.
Following the success of Geotix and a newfound enthusiasm for software testing, Fellows made the decision along with a former MyNorth co-worker to begin laying out plans for a software testing startup. Following his former co-worker moving on from the project, Fellows then continued plans and client-searching on his own, working out of his girlfriends' home office in their shared Traverse City home. He continued to work from home, networking with clients and making carefully chosen hires until he had enough savings to find a usable office space to move the rapidly growing business into. After the new office space was set up, the team was able to expand and take on more clients as well as hiring help with management and additional testers.
“I was drawn to the challenges that the fast-paced environment of software testing brings. I really just fell into software testing and back when I was 27, I never imagined that I'd be working out of my girlfriend's home office and it was hard to keep motivated a lot of days, but seeing how far we've come has really made the hard work worth it.” - Ben Fellows, CEO
Since its first client, the Loop team has seen a lot of changes, successes and challenges. Since its first client, the Loop team has seen a lot of changes, successes and challenges. One of Loop's first major hires was its first COO and now Head of Automation, Matt Osiecki. Osiecki and Fellows attended high school at Leland Public School together, playing on many of the same sports teams and graduating in 2009. A 2016 graduate of Northwestern Michigan College’s engineering technology program, Osiecki worked as a CAD technician with Versus Technology and a manufacturing engineer with Skilled Manufacturing. At Loop he has helped grow their client base and diversifying their testing capabilities and program knowledge, and has utilized his extensive skills in software and engineering to help make Loop into a multifunctional and modern software testing company.
"Working with Ben at Loop has been an amazing experience, and I've been able to grow a lot as an engineer and software developer as well as a person, the workplace is great and co-workers are always willing to help out with issues, we all have a great time." - Matt Osiecki, Head of Automation
Following some major victories and seeing substantial growth, Ben and Matt looked to add another leader to their team, and brought on Traverse City native Cody Sprattmoran as the company’s new COO. A graduate of Colby College, Sprattmoran received a degree in anthropology and minor in Indigenous studies. During her time in college, she studied abroad in New Zealand where she decided to stay to finish out her undergraduate studies, and worked for Shea Pita & Associates Ltd, a boutique consulting company. Upon return to the United States, she worked in the non-profit sector, and in 2016 transitioned to tech and spent the next three years working in location intelligence as a project manager. At Loop, she has been able to prioritize the company’s growth and health strategically and get more involved in day to day work and projects. Cody says she envisions Loop becoming one of the largest tech employers in Traverse City as they become the foremost automated testing service.
"As someone passionate about smart growth and the importance of rural tech, I was intrigued by the possibilities of joining a startup in Traverse City, and to help lead the organization as we successfully grow. As corny as it sounds, the variability of the day to day keeps me on my toes, from managing client relations to growth planning to jumping in to help out with testing when the need arises.” - Cody Sprattmoran, COO
Being a startup company or business comes with its own set of challenges, but the COVID-19 pandemic has presented brand new hurdles for new companies in the technology sector. Fellows says he understands how important helping startup companies is, as he’s found his startup funding in many places during his experience; he won $500 participating in a Best Pitch Challenge hosted by Traverse City NewTech in August 2019.
Loop STS has adapted to help companies during COVID with software testing needs, offering a giveaway of a fully automated testing suite that would normally be valued at $15-$20,000 to six qualifying companies. One of Loop’s main goals is not only helping companies with software testing, but also continuing education for their own staff about software testing advancements and outlets. Fellows says that this is important because he believes 99 percent of outsourced testing fails because the testers don’t understand the products they work on, and this can cause frustrating issues with intercommunication between the testing company and the client. Loop’s hiring process is rigorous and well-maintained, and his staff have proven their worth. Fellows says his team is made up of industry outsiders, which he considers to be beneficial in being able to really get people interested in software testing. Loop now operates in nine states, three countries and already have implemented ongoing intensive case studies.
"We hire only after testers pass a series of exams on their ability to determine platform use-cases & industry use-cases, which means we can onboard faster, catch more bugs, & communicate the cause in a way that isn’t a distraction.” - Ben Fellows, CEO
In terms of continued growth and successes, Fellows says that moving into the team’s newest office space in Traverse City has been a highlight of the summer. Moving forward, he says that the company plans to continue expanding upon their client base and system and software capabilities. To him, more office space means even more room to grow for the team overall and he’s looking forward to the new projects that are in the works. Loop already works with over five major technology and media companies, and is looking to widen their customer base even further. After four more major hires, Fellows says that he’s confident that Loop’s growth will be exponential, but that he’s still being cautious amid a national pandemic and is taking every productive day as a win.
"We want to keep client-tester ratios efficient, and we try to create efficiency through specialty, and I think with moving into our second office space, we'll be able to do more than ever before while also being able to maintain that positive consumer outsourcing experience. Both of those will be really rewarding steps for us moving forward.” - Ben Fellows, CEO
BEN’S FOUR MUST-KNOW TERMS FOR SOFTWARE TESTING BEGINNERS:
1. AUTOMATED TESTING- also known as Test Automation, is when the tester writes scripts and uses another software to test the product. This process involves automation of a manual process. Automation Testing is used to re-run the test scenarios that were performed manually, quickly, and repeatedly.
2. MANUAL TESTING- includes testing a software manually, i.e., without using any automated tool or any script. In this testing type, the tester takes over the role of an end-user and tests the software to identify any unexpected behavior or bug. There are different stages for manual testing such as unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and user acceptance testing.
3. REGRESSION TESTING- a type of software testing to confirm that a recent program or code change has not adversely affected existing features. Essentially a full or partial selection of already executed test cases which are re-executed to ensure existing functionalities work. Critical for ensuring the speed of software capabilities
4. SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT LIFE CYCLE: recognize the importance of the software testing cycle within companies both large and small, understand that great quality in software testing is built from the ground up and not the other way around. And sometimes, the best testers can be those with little major industry experience.