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Blog Series – The early days of AutomatePro by Paul Chorley

4 min read

AutomatePro • 11/01/2021

2020 was an unforgettable year, mainly for the wrong reasons, however, for AutomatePro 2020 was an unforgettable year for many, many right reasons.

Over the next couple of months we will be inviting you to take a look into our business and the incredible people behind it which have always been and continue to be the main reason we continue to make progress!

As part of this series, we will take a look back at our history, where the industry need for Autotest Pro came from, as well as looking at where we are today and the journey that we have been on to get here. The final instalment will look to 2021 and beyond and at the biggest opportunities in the world of automation as we see them, but, we start with an intro to the beginnings of the business, from the eyes of co-founder and CEO, Paul Chorley.

Who & When:

“Wayne and I started the company in 2013 knowing that we wanted to do ‘something more than contracting for the rest of our working lives’.  We wanted to build something that was more than just me and him selling our services.  We wanted to build an innovative and enduring product.”


Portishead, Bristol

“Wayne and I have always made sure that hard work is matched with fun times too, because otherwise, what’s the point?”
Paul Chorley

The Beginning:

“We formed the company and got the cheapest offices we could in Portishead near Bristol, costing just £25 per week.

“It was a tatty building with drafty single glazed windows and it was freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer.  We kept costs to a minimum, we bought venetian blinds on eBay for £15, we got a couple of old desks from an empty office down the corridor and a couple of chairs free from somewhere else.

“These were exhilarating, exciting and fun days when we could innovate together. (Whilst also enjoying daily fry ups in the greasy spoon café next door which we affectionately called Becky’s Breckies’).

“Wayne and I have always made sure that hard work is matched with fun times too, because otherwise, what’s the point?”

Not the first idea:

“People might be surprised to discover that Autotest Pro was not our first idea. Always on the lookout for the opportunity to use technology in innovative ways to solve real business problems.

“It was a chance encounter with an accounts assistant at a coffee machine that ended in the creation of an inventory and point of sales mobile app for a chain of art galleries. A couple more ideas came and went, either because they were not technically or commercially viable.

“Wayne and I have always been able to take hard decisions to stop work on something when it is clear it is not going to work.  Always very painful to do, but very necessary at times.

"They said if we could build it, they would sell it a hundred times over! And that was it…."
Co-founder, Paul Chorley

The big idea:

“I will always remember the evening that things came together and was really the birth of AutoTest Pro.

“I was invited to go for dinner with friends who happened to be the Managing Director and a top salesman at a big ServiceNow consultancy. During the course of the evening, they asked me what Wayne and I were working on at the moment and at the time, we weren’t really working on anything, so I couldn’t really think of what to say.

“On the spur of the moment I came out with some sort of sentence which had both the words ServiceNow and Automated Testing in it – and they both practically jumped out of their seats with excitement.  They said if we could build it, they would sell it a hundred times over!

“And that was it….

“The next day I shared the dinner conversation with Wayne, we cleaned down our whiteboard and said, let’s forget about how any other automated testing system works, how should it be done.

“Off we went – scribbling, musing, exploring, erasing, dreaming, re-starting..…innovating.

“The actual result of this conversation is captured in the image below, which underpins the solution we built and ultimately is what was encapsulated in our US Patent granted some 7 years later.”

* The whiteboard was also given to us free of charge by our accountants because it was delivered to them slightly broken and the supplier didn’t want it back, and in case you are wondering, Alice was a lovely lady who worked in the office next door to us who loved to pop in for a cup of tea and a chat.  She was a very useful person to know as she gave us their Wi-fi code so we didn’t even have to pay for internet for over two years until they moved offices. I told you we were cost saving!!!

Artistic Masterpiece

Knowledge 2016:

“It was hard, very hard, it was exhausting and at times very frustrating, but at the same time it was exhilarating to be creating something that we knew was innovative and fantastic and had never been done before.

“We took our Proof of Concept to the ServiceNow Knowledge 16 event and showed it to as many people as we could.  Of course, we didn’t have an exhibition stand, so we would find a table in a corridor of the exhibition hotel, flip open our laptop and gather people around.

“The demo was flaky at best and we were always in a cold sweat hoping it would work. However, unlike the demo itself, the one thing that was consistent was people’s reaction. Their mouths dropped open when it ran a test and created a user guide.  One ServiceNow veteran whose opinion we regarded very highly said to us, ‘remember me when you’re millionaires will you?’

“It is amazing how this kind of positive feedback sticks in your mind and keeps you going when times get tough.”


The Now:

Four years on from Knowledge ‘16 the company is hardly recognisable. From it’s humble beginnings in Portishead we have matured the product, made it enterprise grade with resilience, robustness and security built-in, we have customers all over the globe with household name banks, insurance companies, healthcare companies and technology companies.

“Today, we have a dedicated sales and marketing function, a product team, customer success, accounts, admin and more importantly, Wayne and I never touch the code (which the dev team are very glad about). We trust our team to run the business and we rarely get involved in the detail operation of the business meaning that Wayne and I are once again free to stand in front of a blank whiteboard and scribble, muse, explore, erase, dream, re-start…and innovate.

2021.  Join us, and let’s make progress. Request a free trial today.

AutomatePro • 11/01/2021

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