Thingtester by day

Jenny Gyllander
May 13 · 6 min read

TL;DR: I’ve decided to jump and take Thingtesting from a side-project to my full-time gig. If you want to support me on the journey; here’s how you can become a Thingtesting Close Friend. You will get access to behind-the-scenes content, events, exclusive deals and receive my endless gratitude 💕.

My goal? To help you discover your next favourite brand.


About a year ago, in April 2018, I wrote my first Thingtesting review on Instagram:

Caption from the first Thingtesting post 24/3/2018.

“I’m a visual learner, wannabe photoshopper and daytime VC based in London. I test and review new products, and will do my best to demystify some VC thinking while I share my honest opinions. I like startups, things and ideas that are changing how we live — Thingtesting is my way of learning where the world is going. Tips, comments and feedback: jenny@thingtesting.com”

📝 Almost 100 reviews later, here’s a bit of a recap on how it all started, and what’s happened since:

I moved to London in September 2017. Like a child in a candy shop, I was buying and trying out products that I had been reading about on Techcrunch and Twitter for years. I also saw incredible brands pitch us at Backed VC, where I had just started working. Pretty soon I realised that I needed an outlet to vent all things startups and brands, and I took to Instagram because Twitter wasn’t visual enough, and Medium felt too serious (yes this is me being very serious now lol). The account name “Testingthings” was not available (someone called “young poo” took that account name in 2013…). “Thingtesting” was available and so was the .com. I bought foam board in an art shop and asked my graphic designer flatmate to give me a crash course in photoshop. I had found my new hobby.

The Thingtesting photo studio

4 months later, on a Sunday morning in August I opened Instagram and thought I was witnessing yet another IG bug. The “heart symbol” for new likes had a constant “99” on it. Minutes later I saw Hunter Walk’s “The Best VC on Instagram” post, and I couldn’t believe it. (Thank you Hunter, you changed my life a little bit that day).

Things escalated a bit, but I kept working on my Backed projects, which I loved. Evenings became increasingly longer, weekends fewer and in December I realised that this was becoming pretty unsustainable. I’ll be very honest; I never imagined that Thingtesting would become a full-time thing, and the thought of turning my hobby into my living was scary. I’d have to monetise it to pay my rent; and I didn’t want to ask brands to pay for reviews because I’d lose my honesty. Plus a hundred other excuses. But finally, in January, I decided that there was too much happening simply to ignore it. I decided to take a 3 month long sabbatical to figure out what to make out of Thingtesting.

During the past 3 months I’ve spoken to hundreds of followers, interviewed founders and investors and learned a lot. I’ve received messages from 15-year olds asking what “VC” stands for, girlfriends putting together Thingtesting Christmas gifts to their boyfriends, and spoken with 3 people who have found their new jobs through Thingtesting. I’ve learned that some companies have seen 2x normal sales in the days following a TT review, I’ve met people that I never thought I’d meet. I’ve learned which renowned VCs use compression socks, and I learned that one can faint when Kirsten Green follows your account. Most importantly, be it VCs, students, designers, or founders — I’ve learned that Thingtesting readers are united by brands that do things differently, and a curiosity for the stories behind them.

Now three months of sabbatical has passed — and to my big disappointment, I still don’t know what Thingtesting will become. Instead I returned to one of my favourite books ever written, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, to read about his decision to jump and start Nike (or Blue Ribbon back then).

“I was following a path that felt like my path. And though I wasn’t sure where it would lead, I was ready to find out.”

So here I am now writing a hyper-cliché medium post about following my passion. I’ve decided to start working on Thingtesting full-time.

What does this mean?

Honestly, not much. Except:

  1. Thingtesting’s tagline. It’s time to say goodbye to “VC by day, thingtester by night.” I’m just a thingtester by day and night now. 😎
  2. “Notes from a VC” section will also be renamed. The review content will continue to have two parts; “The Product” and “The Story”, where “The Story”-section will continue to focus on the market, industry trends, big picture and the background of the company.
  3. I need money for food and rent. Reviews will continue to stay unbiased, and I will never charge brands to be reviewed on Thingtesting. This is very important to me. But there might be sponsors in my newsletter, and I will be testing out other content types outside of the reviews that might generate revenue. Let’s see. And you can help:

Become a Thingtesting supporter and Close Friend

https://www.thingtesting.com/subscribe

For $100 you can join Thingtesting Close Friends. It’s a lifelong membership. We’re starting with a limited batch of memberships, so act fast if this sounds like something for you:

You’ll get discounts on the best products we’ve tested, be the first to know what’s in the Thingtesting pipeline, receive meet-up and event invites, and get more content streamed conveniently right to your Instagram Stories. Plus a monthly exclusive Thingtesting Close Friend email.

Most importantly, you’re the reason why we can bring you this content to life. You’ll forever be credited as a Thingtesting patron that helped us stay independent on the hunt for the best brands and products.

Ever since that first post, the mission of Thingtesting has been the same. To discover and learn more about new things that are changing how we live. That won’t change. But I’m pretty excited to do a second Thingtesting year-in-review in May 2020 because clearly a lot can happen in a year. Until then, let’s go #thingtesting.

Lots of hugs,

Jenny


Photo: Dunja Opalko

Thank you. I am in deep gratitude to a lot of people that have made this hobby-turned-company jump possible. Thank you Alex Brunicki, Andre de Haes, Genevieve Wastie and Rachel Grahame at Backed for being the best co-workers, and for an amazing time at Backed, but also for letting me put my passion first. My biggest and most humble thank you Shak (Shakil Khan) for making this jump possible and all your advice.

Thank you Hunter Walk, Yousif Al-Dujaili , Abadesi, Deepka Rana Harry Stebbings, Erik Stadigh, Sarah Noeckel for all the hours bouncing ideas and your continuous support. Linus Ekenstam & Jennie Dalgren, Chris, Sylvia and Nikita Singareddy special hugs to you. And thank you founders for being my rolemodels :)

Last, a massive shout-out to Thingtesting followers that replied to hundreds of DMs, emails and call — you know who you are, and you are epic.


You can follow @thingtesting, subscribe to Thingtesting’s newsletter here, and become a Thingtesting Close Friend here.

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