#Asia This Indian startup takes the headache out of subscription ecommerce



“Imagine you’re a business that’s global in nature, and you’re growing globally. You have lots of customers in Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, the UK, and Australia. You host a lot of products in these companies, [but you] also want the customers to have a more local experience,” says Krish Subramanian, founder and CEO of ChargeBee.

ChargeBee caters to that. Based in Chennai, India, ChargeBee got its start in 2013 and helps businesses better manage recurring billings and online subscriptions. It serves about 1,000 clients across industries in nearly 50 countries. All clients deal in subscription ecommerce, meaning they rely on regular payments that come in from users.

Payment management is a big deal for up-and-coming companies, particularly startups, which are often short-staffed and need to conserve resources. They could do with an easy and convenient way to process transactions, particularly transactions overseas that may be in a different currency. In a recent move, ChargeBee has partnered with Worldpay, a London-based payment processing company, to bring an integrated payments solution to subscription billing.

Less red tape


Instead of paying in the currency of your company’s country, you’d want your customers to be able to pay in their own currencies. Dealing with multiple currencies is not the easiest thing to do. For example, paying across countries with different credit cards means that your payments have a lower rate of acceptance. The collaboration allows for, as Krish says, “crossover” between payments that won’t need in-house processing or a bank as a middleman.

In other words, ChargeBee takes a lot of the processing work required for subscription billings out of the picture — if you’re paying a certain amount per month, someone has to process that, and ChargeBee offers to do it for you instead of wasting time and resources having your staff do it. With the Worldpay partnership, the service can now process payments between different currencies without involving a bank and with a lot less red tape involved.

ChargeBee joins Zuora, Avangate, and Cleverbridge in a battle to get companies signed up for this kind of convenience. Subscription payment startups are doing well in an economy that seems to be becoming more and more subscription-based.

Fitting the bill


Krish tells Tech in Asia that he and the other founders had no idea that subscription billing was the way they wanted to go when they started out. ChargeBee started as more of a collaboration with one of Krish’s college classmates who worked at the sales and marketing company Zoho. Later, they were joined by two of his classmates’ co-workers.

Zoho provided the three with software-as-a-service (SaaS) experience, while Krish came from a services background. Together, the four — Krish, Saravanan KP, Rajaraman Santhanam, and Thiyagarajan Thirugnansambandam — founded ChargeBee.

Krish was inspired by, as he puts it, “watching a product revolution from the sidelines.” ChargeBee’s founders were driven by the desire to build something creative.

“We wanted to bootstrap a company and build something on our own, where we can bring our ideas to life to see what we can do,” says Krish.

It sounds only fitting for a group of engineers.

From there, the ideas fell into place, including ChargeBee’s business model, which incorporated the idea of “do what you know”— the founders had 10 years of experience in working with B2B companies, so they decided to work with them. They then picked SaaS as a focus because they saw it as a field with a lot of potential.

“SaaS tends to say: this is what’s available, let me build on top of that,” he explains. From there, tackling billing models seemed the obvious choice.

Since its official start, ChargeBee has bagged funding that includes a US$5 million series B round led by Tiger Global. A lot has changed for ChargeBee in the past two years, and Krish says that it’s most visible in his day-to-day interactions at work.

“My favorite part is still customer service,” says Krish. “I still do customer support on a regular basis. But I think that as a founder my role is [to be] more of an enabler.”

Since ChargeBee’s founding, the team has grown to 52 people, and Krish spends a lot of time in management and helping them with issues. He sees the same creative drive in them that inspired him and the rest of the founding team to start the company.

“Now, I’m enjoying helping people do better […] my team is exceptionally good,” he says. “My job is watching their ideas come to the market – whatever they want to experiment on, and so on. That’s the stage we are in now.”

This post This Indian startup takes the headache out of subscription ecommerce appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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