TestParty Cracks the Code to Redefine Digital Inclusion

by

By Melody Hahm & Henri Pierre-Jacques

TestParty is an innovative AI-enabled digital accessibility compliance platform. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re co-leading the company’s $4 million seed round with the Urban Innovation Fund. Participating investors include K. Ventures, Soma Capital, and The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), among others.

The Problem

Over 96% of the world’s top million website homepages are not compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Meaning, people who require screen readers or other assistive devices cannot fully use and experience the vast majority of the world’s websites. 

“Even though 17% of the world’s population (over a billion people) has a disability, it is far too difficult and expensive today to make websites digitally accessible,” says Michael Bervell, CEO and co-founder of TestParty. 

The Solution

“Our mission is to make it easier for any software developer to write accessible code before it becomes a problem. Then everyone can benefit from the websites we all rely on in our daily lives.”

Unlike products currently on the market, TestParty uses artificial intelligence to automatically rewrite source code to avoid the financial and reputation costs of violating global digital accessibility regulations such as the Americans With Disabilities Act and the European Accessibility Act.

Founded in March 2023, TestParty’s innovative platform automates accessibility testing, remediation, training, and monitoring, addressing a problem that, despite a federal mandate, has been only partially addressed by existing solutions.

TestParty builds on the growing notion in the industry to ‘shift left’ and start thinking about accessibility earlier in the software development lifecycle. “The current players have inspired us in the market, but we add significant value by democratizing digital accessibility engineering to anyone at a company with a ‘’spellcheck for accessible code,” says co-founder and CTO Jason Tan.

TestParty co-founders Michael Bervell and Jason Tan

The Origin Story

Tan first identified the opportunity after experiencing firsthand frustration with the existing suite of options to make digital products accessible. “My former company, Twitch, was sued for digital accessibility violations. In researching solutions, I discovered that accessibility lawsuits were an industry norm, with more than $370 million paid in damages and settlements over the last five years. The Internet has grown so fast that we have blown past the guardrails that would help differently abled people enjoy the benefits of successfully using popular digital tools,” he says.

Instead of hiring specialized consultants who charge upwards of $300 an hour, Bervell and Tan believe that any engineer can be upskilled through AI to write accessible code. 

Bervell, a published author who helped found and lead a variety of organizations including the WednesdAI Collective (a Harvard & MIT AI incubation lab) and Billion Dollar Startup Ideas (a media and innovation company), has also worked as a Portfolio Development Manager at Microsoft’s Venture Fund and Software Engineer at X, formerly Twitter. TestParty is also the first Harlem Capital investment founded by a former intern.

“Michael interned for us four years ago and we followed his journey into VC then business school and now as an entrepreneur. Watching his growth and joining his journey in this next phase of TestParty has been a pleasure. We are deeply aligned in our missions to serve the underserved, and I’m inspired by his passion to tackle this problem,” says Henri Pierre-Jacques, Managing Partner of Harlem Capital.

How It Works

With customers ranging from energy companies to 200-year-old textile manufacturers, TestParty’s software platform offers a wide array of tools designed for the modern software development process.

These include a VSCode IDE extension for auditing and correcting code, just-in-point training for WCAG criteria, continuous integration apps for new code scans, workflow integrations with Jira, Linear, and Azure DevOps, and customized dashboards for comprehensive monitoring. These offerings ensure digital assets are accessible from the outset, saving companies significant time and money while ensuring compliance.

There have traditionally been two ways of getting a company’s digital assets compliant: overlays and accessibility software consultancies. TestParty is a pioneering entrant, creating a third space of “automated digital accessibility testing and remediation.”

The accessibility industry has been wary of AI tools because of the failed promises of accessibility overlay tools, which claim to make websites compliant by adding a widget that changes display features like text size. “Unlike overlays, we’re focused on correcting underlying accessibility errors within the source code and using a human-in-the-loop to approve every code change,” says Tan.

“We love TestParty’s vision of tackling any problem where compliance meets code,” says Julie Lein, Managing Partner at the Urban Innovation Fund. “And we’re excited to support Michael and Jason in making the internet accessible for all.”

The End Game

“Our focus isn’t just on finding issues but on fixing accessibility bugs and providing senior leadership with critical insights and a corrective and future prevention path,” explains Bervell. “Especially since research shows that every bug in production costs up to $10,000 to fix.” This full-stack, end-to-end approach sets TestParty apart, aiming to serve everyone from designers and developers to product managers and Chief Accessibility Officers.

The company’s vision is to become the industry standard in digital accessibility innovation as well as extend its technology to other areas such as mobile applications, compliance code rewriting, and generative AI for code writing.

About TestParty:

TestParty is the smartest solution for achieving digital accessibility compliance with ADA, EAA, WCAG, and more, replacing manual testing to save costs and time. Founded in 2023 and backed by Harlem Capital, the Urban Innovation Fund, Soma Capital, and others, TestParty supports customers and teams in Boston, New York, and San Francisco.

About Harlem Capital Partners

Harlem Capital (HCP) is an early-stage, diversity-focused venture capital firm. HCP makes initial investments of $1mm to $2.5mm in U.S. seed rounds for 10-15% ownership.

For more info on HCP’s impact sign up for our newsletter, follow us on LinkedInX, and Instagram, or email info@harlem.capital

Recent Blogs

Unlocking Efficiency: How Executive Assistants Supercharge VC Teams

Read More

Meet Harlem Capital’s Summer 2024 Interns

Read More

The Harlem Capital Effect: A Glimpse at HCP's 5 Years of Impact

Read More