Earlier this year, the co-founders of SEEK and Atlassian publicly stated that the financial services industry is most vulnerable to disruption by new technologies. There’s no denying that startups have their sights set on the profits enjoyed by Australia’s big four banks – estimated to be $29 billion in 2014 alone. But banks aren’t resting on their laurels; they know their is no way forward unless they innovate. This is why they’re partnering with startups. Melbourne-based startup Bugwolf is the latest to warm the hearts of a major financial institution, recently announcing its partnership with National Australia Bank (NAB).
Founded in 2012 by tech entrepreneur Ash Conway, Bugwolf is a web-based service that uses gamification to test a company’s website, apps and online products for functional defects prior to launching into the market. Bugwolf arranges for elite beta testers to compete against each other over accelerated timeframes with the goal of detecting service errors and improving a product’s digital experience.
Gamification is a key part of the beta testing process. Conway said that applying game mechanics makes the testing process more fun and engaging for the testers, which ultimately delivers better results for the clients. The testers are rewarded for each ‘bug’ they find, with rewards ranging from peer recognition to cash incentives.
At the moment, Bugwolf has a two-pronged business model. Clients have white label platform through which they gamify the testing process with their own internal teams, employees or customers. Alternatively, Bugwolf will bring together a group of elite testers (based locally and internationally, depending on the client’s request) to test a product, and assign a product specialist to manage that cycle of testing.
Bringing NAB on board as a client is a significant achievement for Bugwolf, according to Conway, who believes the partnership gives the startup credibility and will help open up new opportunities.
NAB Chief Information Officer, David Boyle said Bugwolf has given the company “an exciting alternative” in testing their services, while also helping the company strengthen its ties to the local startup community.
“NAB is one of the country’s largest technology employers, so it’s important we support and foster the local industry,” said Boyle. “There is a growing local technology scene and many great ideas are being developed on home soil. We have provided Bugwolf with new contacts and industry knowledge, while continuing to work on improving our products in the process.”
Conway believes that more collaborations between large enterprises and startups will help safeguard the prosperity of Australia’s startup ecosystem. He said startups are always keen to work with foundation clients to prove their concepts; and that if there were more enterprises willing to not only support the community, but buy products and services from startups, then the supposed ‘funding gap’ would be less of an issue.
“There are a range of early-stage funding sources in Australia for ideas, what the scene needs more of is corporations willing to be clients of startups,” said Conway. “This requires patience and deep collaboration, but the outcomes are a win for both sides.”
However, knowing all too well the challenges that come with bootstrapping a startup, Conway said he is quite open to the prospect of raising funds next year to accelerate national and global growth. He feels the business has been going from strength-to-strength since establishing a product-market fit six months ago, and that now is the time for the startup to look towards scaling fast.
Image: Ash Conway, Founder of Bugwolf. Source: Provided.