February 6, 2023 Interviews

Interview with Luca Manara, CEO and Co-founder of UNGUESS, the first Italian Crowdtesting platform aimed at testing apps, websites, chatbots and any other digital product

Luca Manara is the CEO and Co-founder of UNGUESS (the former AppQuality), the first Italian Crowdtesting platform aimed to become the ultimate B2B tech company to optimize the Quality, Experience and Security of any digital product, service and solution.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Luca worked for Piaggio for many years in Italy and London in the marketing department.

Luca holds an Informatics Engineering Robotic / Automation Degree from the Politecnico di Milano.

In 2015, you founded, together with Edoardo Vannutelli and Filippo Maria Renga, AppQuality, rebranded as UNGUESS in January 2022, a platform that helps companies build high-quality Apps and Websites with a first-rate user experience thanks to Crowdtesting solutions. What prompted you to establish App Quality?

At that time, I was in London with Edoardo and Filippo, speaking about the digital ecosystem, the app ecosystem and the digital market evolution. We understood that, due to faster and faster digitalization, it had become harder for companies to keep delivering consistent, top-quality experiences to final users.

In those days we elaborated further, and while organizations often instinctively understand that quality matters, it is rarely matching what their users and customers intend as “quality”. We believe that top-quality experience consists of three levels that build on top of each other: 1. no bugs and secure to use, 2. well designed and 3. a place where Users feel delighted and satisfied with each interaction.

Here comes our idea: why not involve global communities and directly the final customers to scale that? It should be easy, it should be integrated and fast enough to follow the high speed required nowadays by software development and the digital ecosystem.

Unguess uses crowdtesting methodology to optimise the user experience of companies’ digital products and services. Can you tell us more about the business model of the company?

UNGUESS is a tech company born to optimize the quality, experience and security of any digital product, service and solution. We offer testing in three areas: UNGUESS Quality to find defects – before users do – on thousands of tester devices, UNGUESS Experience to create memorable experiences by testing and co-designing products and solutions (websites, apps, products, eCommerce, …) listening to the voice of the real final users/consumers and UNGUESS Security to ensure the security of products by tapping into a community of hundreds of certified Ethical Hackers.

Everything we do is crowd-sourced, and we can reach 160 million testers in the world directly subscribed to our platform or reachable thanks to API connections with dozens of different panel providers. 

We work with scaleups and big corporations usually on yearly projects working side-by-side with their dev team, connecting to their internal project management tools (like Jira for ticketing), and improving the efficiency of their team on deploying top-quality digital solutions.

You recently announced a € 10+ million fundraising round led by Fondo Italiano d’Investimento, together with P101 SGR, Azimut, Italian Angels for Growth (IAG), Club degli Investitori and Club Italia Investimenti 2. What results have you achieved until now? Also, what are the development plans of Unguess for the near future?

We’ve come a long way since we founded AppQuality in 2015. Our client’s portfolio has kept increasing at an exceptional rate and is now counting over 300 enterprise companies, in Italy and abroad. While we were broadening our offer of services to businesses, we kept sure to develop a platform that could be an answer to our client’s ever-evolving needs, keeping it user-friendly, integrated, fast and effective.

We have grown in number: today we employ more than 80 skilled and passionate professionals with an international mindset, while TRYBER, our global crowd, has grown to many thousands of daily engaged, trained and vetted testers.

The investment round that has just been concluded is an important vote of confidence from investors that have a solid experience in the tech and scale-up landscape. The new resources we have obtained will help us consolidate our leadership in Italy while also continuing on the international path that we started in 2022, and being sure to keep our platform always top-quality for our customers.

What are the main challenges you experienced in creating UNGUESS? What are your next challenges?

The hardest challenge is always the first! It wasn’t easy to execute our vision with the first client and create metrics for the first investor to make them understand our value. But luckily, we found the right people to believe in it and take part in this path together with us.

About the next challenges I believe that we will have to replicate our success in Italy in key strategic areas abroad, and it won’t be easy. But I’m sure that we have all that it gets to be successful: the best team, technology and a differential positioning in the market.

Now is also the time to focus on internal communication, create a resilient organization through adaptive organization design principles and learn from the team how we can create a brighter and long-term future for UNGUESS. Because the market and customer needs are always changing. Particularly in our market. 

One last question. What is your vision for the tech industry in Italy?

Italy offers us a privileged position since there is a lot of work to do in so many industries that are now not fully digitalized and we have to “extremely execute” to succeed. I believe that there are much more opportunities than threats, and while some factors can make it difficult to see, we can grow as a strong international player in the tech industry. We at UNGUESS are working at the forefront of this trend, and we will be sure to seize all the opportunities it will offer us.

I think that the pandemic gave us the opportunity we were looking for: we have talents, we have what Nerio Alessandri, founder of Technogym, called the “imbestio”, now you don’t need to be necessarily in the valley. It all depends on us: per aspera ad astra.


For more info on UNGUESS, visit: https://unguess.io/