Spurred on by the entrepreneurial zeal to create a business of their own, Krish Subramanian, KP Saravanan , Rajaraman Santhanam and Thiyagarajan T (Thiyagu) created ChargeBee in 2011. ChargeBee is a cloud based Subscription Billing Solution that provides an effective and comprehensive recurring billing solution for businesses worldwide.
With a focus on customer relationships, they aim at being the best online billing platform for the next generation of subscription businesses. We chat with Krish about their venture.
An Excerpt from the Interview • What made you start your venture?
Amongst founders, Inspiration stems from different sources. For me it was my first boss Jagan Vasan, whose entrepreneurial energy guidance fueled my aspirations. For KPS, Rajaraman and Thiyagu, it was working at Zoho since its early days when it was called Adventnet/Vembu Systems, that sculpted their technological rigor and aspiration. The common thread between us has always been a desire to build things on our own, to make decisions and to see them coming to fruition.
• What has been the key to your business’s success?
We have been particular about bringing together an amazing team that focuses on execution coupled with a strong emphasis on productising ideas. As we pursue a product roadmap, we support each other with a keen eye on building components as part of the product use case which helps us in staying on track all the time.
We do prioritize items based on inputs drawn from customers. Such decisions are generally not attributed to chance instead we work with customers to understand and be convinced of the feature’s worth for our other potential customers.
• What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
Security – We are paranoid about security aspects, be it internal or external. Because we deal with sensitive information that comes with billing and payments, we have adopted practices where nothing is released without extensive testing, changes are never made without multiple reviews and sign offs. Choosing the right fight – Choosing the markets to operate in is supremely important.
In the early days of a startup, one thing that is exceedingly scarce is your time. Initially, we naively started off trying to focus on solving a regulatory issue with technology by building workarounds for recurring invoicing etc. In hindsight, we realised it doesn’t make sense to fight regulation change with technology, especially at the stage we were at and thus decided to focus on global markets. We still try to guide startups with options in the Indian market when it comes to recurring payments, but our primary focus lies in solving globally relevant use cases.
• Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
Certainly, we reach out to multiple folks for insights. Girish Mathrubootham, co-founder and CEO of Freshdesk is a good friend and a vocal supporter of ChargeBee, he is someone we interact with regularly. I also have coffee induced mind melds with Suresh Sambandam, Co-founder and CEO of OrangeScape and Mukund Mohan, now Director of Microsoft Ventures for advice. And of course Shekhar Kirani from Accel is part of our Board and helps us almost on a weekly basis with inputs.
• Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
I would like to talk about tools that have been immensely useful. With respect to application infrastructure logging and monitoring, we use Splunk. For alerts to monitor our application we use AWS Cloud Watch, PagerDuty and Pingdom. We use Snort for Intrusion Detection. We have been a big fan of AWS from the beginning because of the flexibility it offers to automate infrastructure management to a large extent.
• What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction and Expansion?
Pretty much all the team members participate in customer support at different points of time and it has become an integral part of our team culture. We’re still learning the best ways to delegate and prepare well, two aspects that’ll empower team members to be more successful.
Most of our customer conversion happens through inbound trial conversion. We focus on aspects to build visibility in specific channels we are visible before our customers by writing blogs, guest posts and practice pretty much most aspects of inbound digital marketing.
• What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Perseverance – To stay committed through ups and downs and to face every challenge with utmost resolve. Risk assessment – The ability to evaluate risks and make calculated moves is of profound significance. Building a team – People can make extraordinary things happen if they enjoy what they do and believe in themselves, helping our team members become more successful is an important part of building a business, an essential skill that’s learnt on the job. Visit their Website: https://www.chargebee.com Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chargebee