A Cloud Guru (ACG) is a leading online cloud training platform that has helped more than one million people, especially engineers learning cloud computing through training with Amazon, Google, and Azure.
When it was a 40 member company with a lean dev team and just one product manager, they had achieved a significantly high level of product-market fit with both end consumers as well as businesses. From that point on, they needed to scale efficiently. And that meant a lot more rigor around creating an impeccable user experience.
Before moving to a subscription model, ACG used to sell a bundle of courses ranging from assessment materials to full-fledged courses at flat rates priced between $29 to $99. This pricing model did not work the best for their business.
ACG hit that moment of realization that shifting to a subscription business model could allow them to scale up faster and sustain longer over time regardless of any crises.
Hence, ACG decided to migrate to a subscription model after they raised a round of funding.
They tried to automate subscription billing with Braintree, but it did not help with upsells. If students wanted to move to an annual plan, they had to cancel their monthly plan and then sign up for a new annual plan. As a result, the customer support team was inundated with requests around resubscribing students, downloading past invoices, changing addresses on invoices, etc.
ACG had three criteria for a full-fledged subscription billing platform:
- Functional capabilities: They needed a solution that would enable their customers to move seamlessly from monthly to an annual plan, allow automated renewal notifications, handle credit issues painlessly, and also enable fraud detection.
- Usability: ACG was particular about the ease of use, both with the UI to support a customer and to create a subscription.
- Pricing Model: ACG was keen on getting the best of the solution at a reasonable price to both the individual users as well as businesses with 10 — 10000 students.
On referring to Gartner for existing subscription management solutions in the market, they narrowed down to Recurly, Zuora, Stripe Billing, and Chargebee.
Zuora was strictly recommended as a NO by another peer in the industry, whereas Stripe worked well as a payment gateway. But according to ACG, the team at Stripe did not look like they had the ‘appetite’ to win the subscription business and this was evident in their pricing and support.
Chargebee was their solution of choice, as it met every criterion they were looking for in their subscription management platform.
ACG was able to go-to-market with their subscription model in less than a month, and since then, they have been able to scale their user base globally thanks to Chargebee.
- Flexible Pricing Models: ACG is now able to offer usage-based pricing, and feels confident about evolving their pricing with Chargebee’s volume and tiered pricing models.
- Managing Renewals: The fact that Chargebee could automatically manage renewals with emails ensured that their annual customers stayed on, reducing churn for ACG.
- In-depth Billing Automation: Everything that ACG needed — pro-rata calculation, reminder emails, customizable invoices, credit notes, etc — was already present in Chargebee. ACG was also confident that should a need come up in the future, Chargebee is well equipped to handle the requirements and automation for them.
- Dedicated Support During Implementation: During implementation, the Chargebee team had promptly responded to any questions that ACG had through a dedicated Slack channel, resulting in a fast and hassle-free rollout.
- Inbuilt Copy Configurations: The inbuilt testing and staging in Chargebee where ACG could simply copy their settings, configurations and data from the test site to their live site, assisted their staging process, and just made things easy.
In George’s words, “Chargebee really did take a lot of the heavy lifting once we got into it. We didn't really run into any issues and we're kind of a little surprised. It just worked.”