My Adventures at Suitest

During this summer, I had an internship at Suitest, a tech startup, in Prague. The program is 8 weeks long, and I worked for about 6 to 8 hours from Monday to Friday. Suitest is a tech startup that has advanced technologies in object-based test automation for TVs. At the time I became an intern at Suitest, the company had already had mature products and technologies and was ready to go to next stage, which would be acquired by another company and expand its market. My job at Suitest was helping the company do valuation, make pitchbook for the acquisition, prepare due diligence, and do market research.

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Because nobody in the company had a business background at the time I arrived, my Boss, Mirko, put lots of expectations on me and another intern and hoped we could help Suitest go through M&A process with other advisory groups and make the proper valuation of the company based on its future market. At first, I did lots of market research for the Media industry and test automation. I wanted to know what the demand for object-based test automation would be like in the future and the market size of it. Then, I found the major competitors of Suitest. Since Suitest was the only company who had the technology of object-based test automation, I compared Suitest with other companies who were also in the test automation industry, and most of them had subject-based test automation. To differentiate our unique object-based test automation from the traditional subject-based test automation in the market, I did a research and talked to some of the tech guys in the company. Then, another intern and I came out the valuation of Suitest based on the future sales of Suitest we predicted and the industry EV/Sales we calculated based on other public test automation firms.

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After my market research, I realized our product was the only object-based test automation solution for TVs on the market. The rest of the solutions were all imaged-based test automation. To find potential coding bugs on TVs or TV apps, people can only use object-based testing. I thought Suitest had a promising future, and its solution would be acquired by another big firm easily. However, as the time went by, I realized my view was wrong. The best product can’t always be the spotlight of the business world. In the first few weeks, Mirko had several online calls with the representatives from OTT providers and tech companies who had big SaaS, like Netflix and Amazon. The online presentation went well, and the representatives from those companies were impressed by our solutions and idea. However, a few days after the presentation, those representatives called back and said they didn’t see anything that our solution could contribute to their companies. This answer was like a bomb to the company, and both Mirko and I were shocked by the result. I could clearly see how our products contributed to their platforms and increased their testing efficiency. Nowadays, most companies are still using manual testing for smart TVs, which is not efficient and repetitive. Our test automation solution could free humans’ labor and increase efficiency in the testing process. For the rest of the week, the whole working environment of the company had changed dramatically. The fruit bar where used to have laugh and jokes became a quiet place. Everyone in the company was affected by this frustrating news and started having some confusion about the future of the company. Days later, Mirko told me that he talked to some of his friends who worked for big tech companies and venture capitals before. His friends told him that there were some “office politics” going on in those tech firms. Firms had to be loyal to their own people and own products. For examples, Netflix might have its own research team for test automation. Although their products were not as good as ours, they had to stick to it. Also, the executives in the companies might think it is not worthy to spend millions of dollars to buy a product that won’t boost their profits tremendously. At this point, I could understand the concept that good products don’t always win. There are too many conditions that are needed to be counted for the success of a business, and lots of them are uncontrollable.

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During my time at Suitest, I talked frequently with the founder of the company and other employees. I worked closely with my boss to get the company’s information for preparing the pitchbook and due diligence. Through my time working at Suitest, I not only experience working in a tech startup and making the pitchbook but also got to know test automation industry and entrepreneur’s mindsets. I really enjoyed talking with my boss about his view of the company and the entrepreneurship, which allowed me to experience the pleasure and the stress of being an entrepreneur. Working in a startup is full of unknown, challenges, and a little bit of confusion of the future.

5 thoughts on “My Adventures at Suitest

  1. Hi Hongbo, it seems like you had a great and very practical internship this summer. I find it pretty amazing that you were able to do the valuation of the company. That seems like a very important task within the organization. I hadn’t heard about the office politics that these tech companies have so that was very interesting and I can see how this was very frustrating for you and all the people at Suitest.

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  2. That’s an important lesson to learn at an early stage. The best products don’t always win. There are so many different forces at play and you need to navigate them all. Nice post!

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  3. Your internship sounds like it was an amazing, and truly formative experience. It’s awesome that you were able to interact with the founder, as I’m sure he was able to offer great advice and insights. I’m sure it was a valuable lesson to learn that “office politics” can have huge effects on the deals a company makes and their interactions with others.

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  4. Hongbo, I did not know much about the test automation industry. Definitely excited to hear more about where you see that industry developing in the future, and how your time in Europe and time with the founder have fueled your passion for entrepreneurship. It’s also very cool that because of your knowledge you added real value to the company by leading/ helping with the M&A process.

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  5. Awesome, rare experience in M&A at a startup! Though it might have been difficult to reconcile, it’s valuable to understand the myriad of reasons a product might not succeed — even if that’s “office politics” or reasons beyond control. Great job!

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