Beta Testing in the Time of Corona

Tarig Hilal
5 min readMay 29, 2020

Seven Lessons from the private beta of Moja, a mobile app that enables family and friends to pool money simply, affordably and transparently.

Tarig Hilal, Gerard Mc Hugh, Will Gurney

Coronavirus has dealt a blow to businesses around the world and thousands of startups have been pummelled by a triple whammy of slowing investment, falling demand and restrictions on travel.

Not all startups have been equally affected. Indeed some are doing well; in industries like healthcare and robotics, companies like Kry, Hopin and Blue Ocean Robotics , are thriving.

The trick it seems is to 1. Have a value proposition that meets the challenges of the moment 2.Be fortunate enough to be in the right stage of the investment cycle and 3. Be determined to hustle.

It was in this spirit that in April we launched a beta version of Moja, a smartphone application that enables family and friends to pool money simply, affordably and transparently. The Corona pandemic prevented us from travelling, but the Moja value proposition was more relevant than ever, and we were determined to find a way to proceed.

After a bit of reflection we realised that we could do most of what we wanted to do remotely. The downside was that not all of the team would be on the ground with our customers, the upside was that it forced us to be more hands off with on-boarding, which gave us useful insights into customer acquisition.

The goal was to run a private beta with an 8 person pool. Customers would use Moja to pool money over a 16 day period during which we would monitor engagement and solicit their views on the product. The challenge was to recruit customers remotely and figure out the best way to communicate with them over the test period.

We had made a point during Moja’s prototyping and build phase of keeping a record of customers; and reached out to a user from our January testing phase and offered him a small incentive to recruit others. In terms of communications it quickly became clear that Whatsapp was the optimal tool.

Customers could provide qualitative feedback through WhatsApp messages and regular video calls and we were able to use our apps analytics to gather quantitative data on usage