BitGym was launched as a video library under a streaming model under Virtual Active’s branding — a toolkit for exercise games that brought in the experience of Wii Fit and Xbox Kinect to mobile, combined with computer vision tech. The SDK uses the front-facing camera on any mobile device to track a person's exercise and movement and cardio workout.
After they launched, BitGym initially used app-store transactions to buy individual videos as in-app purchases. The challenge with that was the longevity of the product — people would download one or two videos and then never come back.
Around the same time, Netflix was gaining popularity and BitGym was inspired to use their subscription model. The backend payment pages from Netflix were, however, homegrown. And building something similar was proving to be complex. With an aim to diversify beyond the app store, BitGym started integrating with Stripe subscriptions.
They ran a Kickstarter campaign for 30,000 dollars as a market validation and raised around 35,000 dollars where they basically pitched the idea of subscription to a large and growing library of beautiful locations around the world that can be used during workouts.
Understanding the maturity in the subscription market, BitGym decided to invest in a solution that would abstract the payments for them and free up more of their time from billing-related work while allowing them to provide better support to their customers. They had very specific needs when they started shopping for a solution — all of which Chargebee checked on their list. These included:
The ability to smoothly transition all of BitGym's existing paying customers from Stripe into the new framework.
Solid developer documentation and APIs on par with Stripe.
A richer feature set for automated recurring billing and subscription management.
An efficient self-serve dashboard that provided more flexibility on payment and customer subscription management.
Flexible and trackable coupons and special discounts and bundles just as they were expanding their marketing options. They also wanted to have the ability to accept annual subscriptions
Additional options to accept more payment methods beyond just credit cards, including Amazon and PayPal.
Additional payment options = Additional Growth
As BitGym started accepting more customers because of additional payment methods including Credit Cards (via Stripe), Amazon payments, and PayPal, this alone increased monthly paying customers by 2x at that time.
Smart customer acquisition using seasonal discounts With interest from fitness enthusiasts peaking around the bloom season, BitGym wanted to capitalize on this seasonal behaviour and expand its acquisition channels. Chargebee’s coupons and special discounts, with a one-time payment link, helped in bringing in more subscriptions to BitGym.
Automatic billing for increased efficiency Chargebee’s Checkout and Self-Serve portal allowed BitGym’s customers to manage their own subscriptions and payment details. This directly translated to an 80% direct increase in their productivity just by switching to Chargebee.
Straightforward APIs that just work: In Keerthik’s own words — “The Stripe API allowed for a lot more low-level access. And so we ended up just spaghetti-coding our way through, making all of the things we wanted to happen happen. With Chargebee there were many different levels in the APIs. We made a lot of our decisions on how we architected our payment server based on the Chargebee APIs. And that led to it being generally more stable, maintainable and readable. We now use most of the high-level stuff to do things that felt more like the right way and fall back to the low-level only when we really need to do something very specific and complicated.”
It freed up 40% of my time from dealing with payment-related work and that directly translates to an 80% direct increase in our company productivity just by switching to Chargebee.
Keerthik Omanakuttan, Co-founder