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Chargebee's Krish Subramanian On SaaS and Value Metrics Founded in 2010, the Chennai-based company offers subscription management services through a software-as-a-services model. In conversation with Prathibha Sastry, co-founder Subramanian shares his insights.

By Prathibha Sastry

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Prathibha Sastry

"You need to have a very strong purpose for why you need to do freemium," said Krish Subramanian, co-founder and chief executive officer of Chargebee.

Founded in 2010, the Chennai-based company offers subscription management services through a software-as-a-services (SaaS) model. Chargebee announced a Series D fundraise of $14 million led by Steadview Capital in August last year. The company claims to be processing over $2 billion of the world's subscription revenue, and works with thousands of customers across the globe.

In conversation with Prathibha Sastry, Subramanian gives a masterclass about the SaaS billing model and value metrics.

The Freemium Model

When the company first started, like most early stage SaaS companies, they had a very low price point, said Subramanian. "One of the difficulties of the $49 price point for a B2B (business to business) solution is that people don't take you very seriously."

To acquire their customers in those days, the company started experimenting with a freemium model. Their idea was to offer a service to a customer for free and once they see the benefits, they would move to a paid tier.

But Chargebee observed that it was attracting customers who used it as a replacement of a pure play invoicing system that was free. The company then closed down that model but Subramanian said he had some interesting learnings from that failure.

"The realization of value happens a little later," he said.

The company then deliberately increased the price of their product to a premium range and introduced new features to add more value. "We said what if we give them value then we are able to charge later," said Subramanian.

Inbound Marketing

As a bootstrapped start-up, the company had to keep costs down and that meant learning new ways to market the product.

That's when he came upon the idea of inbound marketing. "The simplest way to go to different forums, solve problems for them in the absence of chargebee...then I used to sign off saying okay by by the way if you are looking for a system, we are also building one feel free to sign up for a beta."

Syndicated from The PS Show

Entrepreneurship and entertainment have been the key themes in my work life. In a career spanning over 20 years, I have launched a film magazine, hosted a film-based radio talk show and co-founded a mobile app based on the Indian entertainment industry.

Currently building a Content Brand The PS Show. The PS Show brings together Entrepreneurial, Adventurous and Innovative women and men together. It's a platform that is building the NEXT.Women. Its to build a Culture of Continued Consciousness for Women Globally..

Prior to this I was heading the Operations at Microsoft Ventures in India and consider my time extremely rewarding. A pioneer in creating travel with a purpose within the Startup ecosystem, I  launched DigitalDesh for a Hyderabad based startup. It saw me lead a team of four, on a journey by road, along the length of India, covering 24 cities and towns in a period of 30 days. This allowed me to know more about the burgeoning innovation and startup ecosystem and bring out a report on the same and contribute to a Coffeetable Book

I was also involved in building the "Hardware Innovation Ecosystem" in India through the platform Innofest (an iSPIRT initiative).

Recipient of the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur- India 2008-09 and have represented the country at the International Young Creative Entrepreneurs Program held in London in October, 2008. 

I have written for newspapers like Bangalore Mirror and others. I have also been a contributing author on books like Indian Cinema and Women Entrepreneurs.

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