Drawboard’s suite comprises two products. Drawboard PDF is based on single-user PDF markup and is a top productivity app on the Microsoft Store. Bullclip, on the other hand, is a central platform for design review, where some of the largest architecture and engineering firms in the world markup, discuss, and track changes in real time.
While Drawboard PDF uses Microsoft’s subscription service, it was a classic case of build vs. buy for Bullclip. Building the billing architecture was likely to have an impact on Bullclip’s launch — they concluded at the time that a significant portion of their time would be spent on building the billing platform rather than actually building the product. There were clear legacy and tech debt decisions that came into play here.
In Nathan’s words, “For example, we're currently getting to the point where we want to build out our custom internal licensing dashboard internally for our SaaS team as it grows. But until now, we have been able to rely on a third-party platform for this. Simply, our IP is not billing, our IP is not a sales dashboard. Our IP is our value prop in Drawboard products, and so we focus our 16 engineers on that. Not the things that somebody else like Chargebee does better.”
After evaluating Chargebee against Recurly, Chargify, and Zoho to handle their billing component for Drawboard, and even considering building it within Salesforce, the team decided to go for Chargebee as the choice of solution for four main reasons:
Chargebee showed promise in terms of managing licensing because of its well-thought-out API structure
Every use case that they could come up with for the present and future was handled by Chargebee — including billing models, pricing models, and offline payment methods.
The freemium plan offered by Chargebee helped them focus on scaling their business across different channels, rather than worry about payments at their early stage.
The Chargebee dashboard was an excellent interface for the sales team to manage licenses.
“We felt confident in scaling with Chargebee for the foreseeable future. It’s been four years with Chargebee. We're now expanding how we use Chargebee, but I don't see us moving off Chargebee for the next several years just because it's just so well considered in the way that it's been designed for a use case like ours,” said Nathan.
PCI & GDPR Compliance: With Chargebee’s PCI compliance, Drawboard opted to use the self-service portal for users to manage their own subscriptions and payment information. Similarly, scaling to Europe meant Drawboard needed to be GDPR-compliant with how they handle their customer data. Having a trusted third-party vendor like Chargebee ease PCI & GDPR compliance was a game-changer according to Drawboard.
Managing changing billing and pricing structures: With Chargebee’s flat pricing as well as per-user pricing capability, the ability to prorate charges based on when their customer signs up as well as accounting for the prorated amount, Drawboard’s billing complexities were significantly abstracted. It also allowed Drawboard to scale confidently, knowing they can iterate how they bill or price their customers.
Global-scale with global payments: As a business catering to different geographies, a portion of Drawboard’s customers prefer paying via wire transfer along with card payments. With Chargebee’s multi-currency support, the team was able to have ‘local financial representation’, that allowed for transfers across borders far easier.
Revenue Recovery with Smart Dunning: Chargebee’s dunning allows easy follow-ups for overdue payments for Drawboard with smart retries in conjunction with relevant follow-up emails. What made this capability better was extending to offline payments as well.
Flexibility and ease of use: Chargebee abstracts complexity for Nathan’s team by easing the configurations on the interface and usage of Chargebee across a plethora of use cases. The clear documentation also helped a great deal in understanding Chargebee as a product, making it easier for Nathan to be a knowledge expert. He justifies this by saying, “I can be the knowledge expert for Chargebee without having an extensive software engineering background. I was totally able to own the process of rolling it out in our company.”
Chargebee has allowed us to grow from a local Australian firm with a couple of smaller accounts to being in multiple geographic markets. It has allowed us to scale from zero licenses in Bullclip to a hundred enterprises using our products. It's enabled us to actually be a global business, without having to think about billing too hard.
Nathan Field, (former) Head of Marketing, Drawboard
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