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Reflect is an American automated web testing software company. The company was founded in 2019 by Fitz Nowlan and is based in Philadelphia.
Reflect is Automated web testing that anyone can use. No-code, No-installation user experience website testing.
Security Software (Tech)
Fitz Nowlan details the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Reflect?
I am from the Philadelphia suburbs and began programming in Java as a senior in high school. I graduated from Georgetown University in 2009 and went straight into the Computer Science Ph.D. program at Yale University. While earning my Ph.D. with a focus on networking, I took internships in the summers to work at Microsoft and Google. These experiences were eye-opening in many positive ways, but in particular, I knew I wanted to build software for sale rather than pursue a career in research. I loved the idea of taking some software that I wrote to market and “setting up shop” to sell it to customers. The plight of the entrepreneur excited me.
When I was deciding where to work after graduation, both my wife and I were feeling an internal pull to move back to the Philadelphia area where both of our families reside. I didn’t know much about the Philadelphia tech scene, but my mother sent me an article she found online about a digital marketing start-up named Curalate. (Yes, that is the exact article from 2013.) Obviously, I knew I wouldn’t be doing any work related to my research in networking, but I was hoping it would provide a broad software engineering education, of sorts, which I could one day in the future pair together with my highly-concentrated research expertise. It turned out to be a perfect fit! Curalate was a first-class engineering organization and I learned as much there as I could anywhere. It was instrumental in my growth as an engineer, and it’s also where I met my Reflect co-founder, Todd McNeal. He was Curalate’s very first engineering hire back in 2012.
Our idea for Reflect was born as a direct result of our experience building and maintaining software over the course of our careers. Developers have a lot of great options available when it comes to unit and integration testing, but for E2E testing they’re either investing a lot of resources to build and maintain automated test suites, relying heavily on manual testing, or are going without formal testing. It’s interesting that there hasn’t been much innovation in E2E testing vs. unit and integration testing, considering how critical it is to software organizations: whenever you deploy changes to your website or application, you run the risk of regressing functionality that used to work. Often, your customers will forgive you if some new functionality doesn’t work as expected, but they will be much less forgiving if you break functionality that they have used and relied on for months or years. Developers learn pretty quickly how important it is to test things end-to-end. You can spend all this effort unit and integration testing, but a user will still hit a bug immediately after that feature ships if you’re not testing like an end-user.
Fast forward to late 2018 and Todd and I began talking through start-up ideas. We had three criteria for potential businesses:
- We wanted to sell a software product,
- We wanted to sell to a market we understood, and
- We didn’t want to be first to market - i.e., we wanted someone to have already validated that a market for the product exists.
We spent some time ideating and researching and ended up kicking around 10 or so ideas one day at a coffee shop in Philly. The ideas were pretty varied - for example, one was building our own ISP using mesh networking. However, we kept coming back to, and finally settled on, the idea of a test automation product. There were already a ton of tools in the market---a lot of which we’ve tried over the years---and it felt like they’re all rehashing the same approaches over and over with the same limitations.
> In some ways, it can be difficult to find the motivation to work on a side project because you’re not dependent on its success financially and you’re probably exhausted after a full day of work.
The code-based tools are really powerful but when you’re a small team the maintenance cost can increase pretty quickly. They also have some serious blind spots in terms of replicating how users interact with a website. All code-based tools can verify that an element exists on the page, but what you really want is to validate that the page appears visually how you’d expect, which is hard to do in code. This space also appealed to us because we believed (and still believe fervently) that being last-to-market is a massive advantage because we could make use of technology that quite literally was not available to our competitors when they started years ago.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder of Starter Story
- Wiki Updater