We are Focused on Delivering Solutions to Challenges Faced by Businesses in This Economy: Chargebee's Rajaraman Santhanam

Chargebee counts businesses like Okta, Freshworks, Calendly, and Study.com amongst its global customer base

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The Indian Software as a service (SaaS) market is projected to be valued at $50 billion by 2030, according to a recent report by Bessemer Venture Partners.

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India's SaaS market has reached a critical inflection point as venture dollars deployed in the region reached $4.8 billion in 2021, says the report. With a global hybrid work culture brought in by the pandemic and the accelerated digitization across different parts of the country, growth is inevitable for SaaS startups founded in India.

We caught up with Rajaraman Santhanam, co-founder of SaaS unicorn Chargebee to understand the opportunities and challenges for Indian SaaS players today, the company's new products and its roadmap for this year. Founded in 2011, Chargebee counts businesses, like Okta, Freshworks, Calendly, and Study.com amongst its global customer base.

Tell us about the company, its specialization, and the services offered.

Chargebee is the subscription management platform that automates revenue operations of over 4,500 subscription-based businesses from startups to enterprises. The SaaS platform helps subscription businesses across verticals, including SaaS, e-commerce, e-learning, IoT, publications, and more, manage and grow revenue by automating subscription billing, invoicing, payments, and revenue recognition operations, provides key metrics, reports, and business insights and now offers Chargebee Retention and Chargebee Receivables. At Chargebee, we also manage complex regulatory requirements around e-invoicing, GST, TDS, and the RBI's e-mandate.

What is the Summer Product 2022 product release? What was your objective behind launching it, at this point in time?

We are living in the post-COVID-19 era and a decimated global supply chain. Acquiring new customers is at least 2.5 times more expensive than upselling or expanding an existing customer. When the financial market goes through turbulent times like the pandemic, businesses shut down because of not being able to raise revenue. Inflation and high-interest rates make it difficult to raise capital and it becomes even more important for businesses to preserve capital and achieve profitability.

We have spent months engaging with our customers, learning the ins and outs of their businesses, and working with them to determine what types of tools they want and need to face these current challenges. The summer 2022 product release, which is our first foray into becoming a true multi-product company, is focused on helping businesses build their cash reserves and maintain their customer base at a time when many businesses - and their customers - are struggling with the realities of inflation and drying up of venture capital, the lingering effects of COVID-19, and a decimated global supply chain.

What's your USP in this ever-competitive market scenario?

The SaaS market in India is projected to be valued at $50 billion by 2030, but to get there, we need to collectively weather the current economic storm. The volatility of today's market landscape has forced businesses to become adaptable and nimble in ways they had not previously expected, tinkering with package and feature offerings, and providing new and different services to customers at different price points.

We are focused on delivering solutions to challenges faced by the businesses in this economy. Our product offerings help enable high-performing subscription businesses in India, and across the world, to maintain their existing customer base and build their cash reserves at a time when many businesses are struggling with the realities of inflation and drying up of venture capital.

Tell us about your customer base.

Chargebee is working with a number of businesses ranging from startups to public companies. A few key customers include Freshworks, Kissflow, TVS Motor Company, Synup, and CleverTap.

What is Chargebee's vision?

Our vision is to provide every business with best-in-class infrastructure for managing and growing subscription businesses so they can scale confidently. We believe in the elegance of good code, the promise of subscriptions, and the importance of every single customer's experience. We focus on maximizing our customer's LTV and building a sustainable customer base.

What is your roadmap for 2022?

Our focus is going to be on continuing to build the best products we can and helping our customers weather tough times. It will also be a year to look to better internal efficiencies, retain customers and grow sustainably.

Any challenges that the company has faced so far?

Billing is a complex problem, solving it for multiple companies at different stages and geographies comes with a host of challenges that we learn to overcome with time and consistent effort.

Lastly, what is the biggest challenge Indian SaaS players are facing today?

Despite the growth, the biggest challenge set for SaaS players currently is the volatility of today's market landscape. The growing threats of a tumultuous economy have led businesses to take a more critical approach to build their cash flow.

Another challenge would be, that companies doing business in India have been managing the government-mandate around e-invoicing compliance that became mandatory for businesses with turnover over 20 crores from April 1st, 2022.