Moving onwards, together
18th July 2016

Last week we sold out our TestBash Manchester tickets. I celebrated this with a run and a bit of chalk graffiti! Earlier this year we sold out our TestBash Brighton tickets weeks in advance too. This is our 9-year overnight success story, right? 

Of course, we are celebrating this, but it also sends many different thoughts through my mind.  It has been a long journey for me personally.  I’ve stuck with things even through the times that have pretty much sucked. I believe I’ve kept true to my heart, ethos and ethics – and this is really most likely the core reason as to why things at the Ministry of Testing are working.  The cheesy and unmeasurable things are what matters and help us to continue to grow.

However, it doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Trying to do things differently has its challenges.  For me, personally, it’s the never ending challenge of trying to do too much with too little.  Having this incredible opportunity to make the software testing community a wonderful place comes with many stresses too.

I simply can’t look at this ‘thing’ as purely a business, maybe other people could, but not me.  We are not numbers. We are people that need to grow, together.

We’ve Co-Created Awesome-ness, Version 1.0

It feels a bit awkward for me to say this, as I’m actually quite a quiet and humble person.  It doesn’t sit well with me to brag or be overly confident about things.  However,  what you have helped us build is so, so, so amazing.  I believe we are building the best thing out there for software testers.  AND! I don’t see how anyone else could ever match the vibe we’ve managed to co-create.

So, I thank you all for helping us be awesome.  But I still feel, despite being 9 years in, we are just beginning.  There is so much more to come!

I started this thing first as a fun side project then committed myself to making it into a business on a bootstrapper's budget.  i.e. – no money. No investment or loans.  Just my time and the continued reinvestment of the money we have made back into the community.

Soon I will start blogging openly and properly about our business and financial journey.  Earlier this year we realised we had made our first million in sales.  It took us 5 years to get there.  And until 6 months ago it was mostly me and my husband working full time on it.  We’ve mostly worked in partnership with others and with freelancers.  We will continue to do that whilst growing our team.

In August Richard Bradshaw will be joining us full time.  He’s already done an incredible job selling out TestBash Manchester and also getting TestBash Philadelphia off the ground. In the near future, I believe we won’t have a choice but to continue to grow our core team.  Richard’s energy and commitment to the community is amazing.

This is, of course, awesome.

Where To Go Next?

The thing we do best is work with the community.  We are guided by you whether you realise it or not. We take note when you act. We ponder when you don’t. We are inspired by you. We listen and take note in ways you probably don’t imagine we do.

Who the community is is probably up for interpretation.  I’ve put my brain to use and figure there are three main categories within our community.  I’m sure some of you will turn around and prove me wrong or give me some better ideas to build upon. I welcome that.

But here is my stab at it.

We are crazily interested in testing – this means we are mostly software testers.  We are employers – people who work in companies that need to employ testers or learn more about how to do better testing. We are product creators – people involved in creating things to help the testing world – this could be software products, or events, or training, or publishers…etc.

Ministry of Testing is right bang in the middle of these 3 groups. Yup, that’s me being arrogant again.  We are in the middle because we want to work with all of you.  We believe we can work together better. We believe in everyone’s own context and priorities and we are here to somehow piece things together.

At the moment we feel like we represent ‘testing’ more than employers and products.  We’d really like that to change, you can help, for example, you could:

  • Tell your employers how much you’d like to sign up to The Dojo or attend a TestBash, please don’t assume they can read your mind.
  • We believe so many more product creators should be attending and sponsoring our events, not only to get exposure to your products but also to really get to know the people you are trying to sell to.  It helps!
  • As a tester, be one that continually seeks growth and learning. Get involved from near and afar.  Give us better feedback and guidance so we can continue to improve things.

We know the history of the software testing world.  We don’t like all of it.  Some of it sucks. And if you listened to all the sucky rants then you would believe that it all sucks.  But I can tell you a thing that is not really a secret, but sometimes it feels like it is: the software testing community is amazing. There are so many of you who just need to take a few steps to make a difference.  A positive difference.

We can all complain about what is bad. Or what we are lacking. Or all the problems there are. Or we can just put that behind us and look ahead to creating a brighter future.

We are here to help the conversations get going. To make the introductions. To collaborate. To share ideas, successes and frustrations.

Take action

I did a short talk at LTVConf just last week – and would you believe the number of people I spoke to that didn’t really have a clue about testing? You probably wouldn’t.  This is not new to me.  I’ve known this for a long time.

Seriously – there is so much opportunity for change and you can help make that happen.  There simply aren’t enough people flying the testing banner.

We hope you will.