prefinery-logo-lowresBeta testing can sometimes seem like a meaningless term, with Google in particular keeping applications in beta for ridiculous periods of time. But it’s still an important tool for web testing and development, and one that can get complicated, when you’re trying to keep things private. Now a startup called Prefinery says it wants to handle the hassle of beta test management for you.

Even though the main point of a beta is to gather user feedback and improve your product, Prefinery isn’t really focused on feedback, but rather on all the other parts of the beta process that can distract you from getting feedback or building the product. Basically, customers create a web page where people can sign up for the beta via a customizable form, then Prefinery takes that form and creates a list of beta testers. As you’re ready to bring on more users, Prefinery sends out emails letting them in. Other features include the ability to generate codes so users can access the beta, to take surveys of users when they sign up, and to import that data into customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

This might sound like it’s addressing a pretty minor need, but for an early-stage startup, the more you can focus on the product and the business (and therefore the less time you have to spend building duplicating the work every other web developer has done to manage a beta test), the better. Plus, Prefinery notes that your early testers usually include super-users, investors, and press. They’re your most important users, so you want to make sure they have a good experience.

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Prefinery has itself been in a private beta test (managed by Prefinery technology, natch) until now, with 475 companies signed up to manage more than 4,000 testers. Now that it’s launching for everyone, Prefinery says it’s adding new features like improved tester analytics, and it’s ready to start charging. There’s a free plan for up to 50 testers, then pricing starts at $50 a month.

The company is self-funded. Oh, and in case you still think the vision is too small, Prefinery says it’s just starting with beta testing, and will expand to other areas of product development — hence its blog post encouraging companies to embrace the beta “mindset” forever.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6330932&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Prefinery Demo from Justin Britten on Vimeo.