Almas Khan is the Director and COO of v-TEST, which is a software testing services firm. Almas comes from a non-tech background and it is purely through her interest and curiosity that she has become a tester. “I have not been technology savvy but I did try to understand the business side of the applications,” she simply states.
Born into a middle class family in Pune, she has worked in the retail and recruitment sector before turning to entrepreneurship. After finishing her school she joined the retail industry. After her graduation and post-graduation in commerce she completed her MBA in Marketing from Symbosis. All through her college she continued to work with different companies like Lakme and P&O Nedlloyd. Almas says, “It was not financial constraints that pushed me to work but the desire to be independent.” She thoroughly enjoyed working while studying and is glad of the support and encouragement her father extended to her.
In 2005 she got married and moved to New York, where she worked in the recruitment industry for NetPixel from 2006 to 2009. In 2009 she returned from the US and joined the recruitment industry and began working with Kelly IT Services.
While in New York, she was recruiting people from tech background. “I needed to know about them and their work so I could recruit them.” This gave her extensive exposure to technology, which was to come in handy later.
After coming back to India, Almas’ son was having trouble setting in and she was finding it difficult to manage with night shifts so she decided to take a break and explore the idea of being self-employed. During this time she took advantage of all the books on testing that were lying in her house. “My siblings and my husband were into testing so we had so many books in the house on the subject. When I started reading the books I found that it was simple and logical.”
Around this time a friend who was working on apps for kids, shared the apps with Almas so her child could try the apps and the friend could get feedback from his audience – children and parents. Since Almas had time on her hands she began helping her friend with feedback and slowly with finances and operations too.
She says, “Initially when I started looking at mobile apps and websites I was disappointed in terms of usability, logic, and business criticality. My husband and I used to discuss the items that were missing in these apps/websites.”
Overtime she realised that testing was something she enjoyed and could make a foray into this sector.
All she needed was a co-founder or partner who came from a strong testing background.
Almas did not have to look further than her husband. “It took some convincing as it was not an easy decision but he agreed,” says Almas.
In February the duo started vTEST. “We decided to set up a dedicated testing team and named it vTEST (indicating WE TEST as it was only the two of us testing initially).”
Initially, they even tested apps for free but the overwhelming response they received pushed them to expand. “With our team of 11 testomaniacs (yes that is what we call our testers) we developed an in-depth understanding of the applications under test and included software testing strategies that deliver quantifiable results,” she says.
Some of the other players in this sector include SQS, QualiTest, Acutest, Sogeti. Talking about vTEST, she says, “We wanted to focus only on testing instead of the entire software life cycle. Through vTEST, we are able to help our clients develop incredible software that is tested and certified by us.”
vTEST provides end-to-end testing services to its clients through on-demand and dedicated channels. “We have setup 24×7 testing model that helps clients to provide us with their code at any time and we would test and report defects immediately. Our on-demand channel provides freedom to clients wherein they can engage our testing services only when required rather than paying for unused resources,” she adds.
Managing finances has been a challenge, as she had to keep a close eye on the inflow and outflow. “Being a startup, we believe in spending only on the required right things and avoid unnecessary expenses,” a
golden rule many startups follow.What is interesting is how she compares her handling of finances at work with that at home.
As a woman entrepreneur, striking a work–life balance has been a challenge for her. “There have been times when my kid Arish, who is now seven years old, has accompanied me to client visits. During my client meetings, Arish has been co-operative to spend time at client’s reception and eagerly wait for my return,” she shares.
Almas’s style of working is a bit hat ke. Instead of what to do she approaches it from the angle of what not to do. “Always have a not-to-do list and your to-do list is ready. I have always believed in preparing a list of things that I want to do on a short-term or long-term basis. While prioritising things to do, it appeared that the best approach was to decide on what need not be done. This gave me a better clarity of thought and assisted me to devise the best plan of action,” she reveals.
Her family has been the biggest pillar of strength and support. They have always been there motivating her to give her best.Talking about the support she received from the family she says, “Our family supported us with the initial funding and our earlier colleagues were our first clients who were already aware of our proficiency in testing.”
Another motivator that pushes her is, “the achievement that vTEST is able to improve the quality of websites and mobile apps being used by end users.”
With a confident smile, she says,
We look forward to build a huge network of testers who could contribute to build a world-class quality software.