Kristel Kruustük, co-founder & CEO of Testlio

How to succeed in tech: Testlio’s Kristel Kruustük shares her tips

Gabriela Motroc
© Shutterstock /Lamina2014

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? In addition to the Women in Tech survey, we also launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Kristel Kruustük, co-founder & CEO of Testlio.

Is tech a boys-only club? So it seems. But the light of smart and powerful women is finally shining bright. We root for excellence and justice and, above all, we want meritocracy to win. This is our way of giving women in tech a shout-out.

A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Women in Tech — The Survey

We would like to get to the bottom of why gender diversity remains a challenge for the tech scene. Therefore, we invite you all to fill out our diversity survey. Share your experiences with us!

Your input will help us identify the diversity-related issues that prevent us from achieving gender equality in technology workplaces.

Without further ado, we would like to introduce Kristel Kruustük, co-founder & CEO of Testlio.

Kristel Kruustük, co-founder & CEO of Testlio

Find her on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Medium.

What got you interested in technology?

To be honest, growing up I had no interest in technology whatsoever. After graduating from high school, I joined my sister in London with the intention to find a summer job and figure out my next steps. Coincidently, all her friends were in the tech world and they encouraged me to explore it as well since the field was booming and opportunities aplenty. Following their recommendation, I went on to study programming and from there I found software testing.

Looking back, I can’t really say that I had to overcome an overwhelming amount of obstacles. Rather I created obstacles / uncomfortable situations for myself because I wanted to grow and evolve faster. For example, I moved out of Estonia right after receiving my diploma, putting myself in another environment to spike my learning curve. I’ve always known that nothing comes easy, so rather than focus on obstacles I’ve always just looked ahead and pushed through.

My family and friends have always been extremely supportive, no one has ever questioned my life or career choices.

There have been various influential people in my life at different stages of my journey. But I’ve always been inspired by my grandmother and my sister, who both have risen above their difficulties and thrived in spite of them. They have shown me that everything is possible if you’re willing to work for it and that when life gives you lemons just bite into them.

For myself, looking back at my entrepreneurial journey, I recognize that some of the challenges I faced were often self-inflicted.

A day in Kristel’s life

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Testlio – we help enterprises deliver amazing customer experiences by providing a community of highly vetted testers and an end-to-end QA management platform. I focus on helping strategically each department with outbound activities, nurturing our testers community and managing investor relations.

My typical day starts early around 6:00 a.m., as I usually go for a ride with my horse Rockefeller before coming to the office. I’m a firm believer in taking care of myself physically and mentally to be in shape for my day. The rest of the day is generally split between checking headlines, handling emails, touching base with my team, meetings/conferences, etc.

I’m proud of what we have achieved today with Testlio – being able to help world renown brands deliver quality customer experiences is very rewarding and humbling at the same time.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

I think it mainly boils down to culture. The reality is, that women are not generally exposed to tech at an early age. Personally, I had no previous exposure to tech before entering university either. Case in point my classes were heavily male-dominated. But that did not deter me at all, instead, I adapted to the situation and pushed forward.

Starting out on my entrepreneurial journey, I was also guilty of some mindset/stereotypes related to women, especially in relation to work-family conflict. Since women are traditionally expected to be the primary caretakers in their family, as an entrepreneur, I also felt (wrongly) that juggling motherhood and a career can only interfere with work duties.

In a way, working women are conditioned from early on to expect that family life will hinder their career. Whereas men do not really think about these issues. A father’s traditional role is seen as the primary breadwinner, so men feel they are fulfilling their family responsibilities by working (more).

I totally realize now that these are boundaries/limits we create ourselves or that are created for us. We can’t have half of a gender revolution, men are also part of the equation. I feel this more clearly than ever, as I see my team and myself growing and evolving.

I strongly think we will continue to see greater diversity balance within companies.

The reality is that technology is our future, so if we are excluding groups of people based on gender, racial, ethnic, orientation, age, etc. prejudices, we as a society are doing ourselves a big disservice. Different minds, perspectives, and experiences equal more opportunities for innovation at a faster pace, and to the benefit of everyone.

I strongly think we will continue to see greater diversity balance within companies. With Testlio, we built diversity into the founding team from the beginning. Companies should aim to have women and people of color across all roles from the start versus trying to fix a problem.

Personally, even though I don’t consider myself to be a role model, I realize I do have a voice and a platform to speak up, empower and perhaps even inspire others to break through barriers and seize their opportunities.


I would say the main challenge in the tech community is that it’s traditionally dominated by men, which in turn feeds into several male-dominated stereotypes and gender role expectations. Such as perceiving women to be more naive if they are “nice” or insensitive/ selfish if they display the same characteristics that could be attributed to a competent man. Sexual harassment is unfortunately still a very real problem as well.

For myself, looking back at my entrepreneurial journey, I recognize that some of the challenges I faced were often self-inflicted such as lack of confidence, perfectionism, and work-life balance issues. Until I realized that achieving balance requires a lot of self-awareness and a mindset switch.

Tips & tricks

Technology is building our future – it’s for all of us to shape, not a select few. Women should not be afraid to break stereotypes and embrace a career in tech.


Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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