App of the Day
Billing Software April 3, 2014

ChargeBee Review and Interview

ChargeBee was started in 2011 by a group of four friends consisting of product managers and ex-Zoho architects. They saw the “ need for a well-structured billing and invoicing system used for recording and processing." 1  ChargeBee exists as a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) subscription-based billing system. With offices currently in both the U.S. and India, this team works to fulfill their belief that a "subscription is a long term relationship and it is not just monthly payments." 2

First impressions

It is easy to see at first glance that  ChargeBee is a vibrant, impressive subscription billing system. It has an easy-to-use dashboard, simple settings page, several API options, and useful reports. What ChargeBee brings to the table in a billing system is so much more than the average tool. Its basic and advanced features are extensive and ChargeBee goes the additional mile to offer those little extras you would not expect.

ChargeBee Dashboard - App Review - Moblized

After entering an email address in order to view the free demo, test data is automatically populated making it very easy to test the system. It did not take long to find my way around to review the all-encompassing features.

Pricing & Availability

ChargeBee is a web-based application with a few different pricing plans. Monthly paid plans include Silver for $49 (200 invoices), Gold for $149 (1,000 invoices), and Platinum for $249 (2,000 invoices). Invoices over the plan amounts are charged at $10 per 50.

Although ChargeBee sometimes adjusts their pricing plans, it never changes for existing customers. Once you lock in a subscription service with ChargeBee, you never have to worry about pricing changes affecting you.

What it does well

Once logged in, the dashboard displays reporting information with drill-downs of all numbers. Revenue, Sign-Ups, Unpaid Invoices, and Subscription Counts are perfect at-a-glance views. Each count or amount can be clicked for details.

Subscriptions show basic information on the main screen along with filtering options. Each record can be clicked for further details including invoices, emails, and transactions. Payment, subscription, and billing information can all be edited along with options to add charges, add-ons, and coupons to the record. Within the Subscriptions area Invoices, Transactions, Email Logs, and Events display their own lists of details as well; clickable for further information. The Events feature is a nice touch in the system. This area shows actions and changes within the system for either screen viewing with filtering or web-hook notifications.

ChargeBee Subscriptions - App Review - Moblized

The Product Config area contains the product pricing details along with areas for configuring Add-ons, Coupons, and Coupon Sets (which include an upload option). Recurring billing, setup fees, metered billing, and trial periods are all configurable which offer users many product pricing options. Product plans can also be edited or cloned with a simple click.

ChargeBee Configuration - App Review - Moblized

The reports are fantastic with eight different types including ARPU, transactions, renewals, revenue and refunds. Screen views offer much detail with filtering capabilities as well. Additionally, reports can be easily exported as .csv files, individually or as a group.

ChargeBee Reports - App Review - Moblized

The Settings area is quite intuitive. Site Settings, Email Notifications, Hosted Pages, APIs, and more are all configurable with simple clicks from the main screen.

  • Email notifications are customizable and templates are provided for easy setup.
  • Hosted payment pages can be set up with no API, minimal API, or complete API integration. Themes are available for the payment pages and an option to upload themes is helpful for those who prefer their own design. Page fields and text are editable and Google Analytics can be added for tracking.
  • Payment gateway options are plentiful with PayPal, Braintree, WorldPay, and more. ACH, offline payment tracking, and credit card retry management are additional offerings.

Third party integrations include  MailChimp, SalesForce, and Zapier. The API options are extensive and each includes documentation and a free developer sandbox for CURL, PHP, RUBY, PYTHON, JAVA, .NET, and NODE. Web-hook Settings are also simple to set up.

What is most impressive to me about this system is the support. ChargeBee offers tutorials, a knowledge base, FAQ section, and a forum. There is user documentation along with full API documentation for development. Online support (chat), a toll-free phone number, ticket system, and online call scheduling are also available help options. Although the system is not difficult to use, having such a variety of support options is rare in other systems and sites that I have seen. This provides additional comfort to users. Additionally, every screen I reviewed offered help by use of screen tips, definitions, and direct links to documentation. This is just another added touch making this system more impressive. 

What we would like to see in future updates

I was unable to locate mobiles apps or information regarding a future plan for them. This would be a wonderful enhancement for those users on-the-go. Accessing the tool via phone or tablet would be the perfect next step for ChargeBee.

The Verdict

After much reviewing and testing, I tried very hard to find something lacking in this billing tool. I tested, I drilled down, I clicked around, and I even mouse-hovered looking for what could possibly be missing. However, I found nothing lacking in this system. The advanced features, ease-of-use, screen help, intuitive design, drill-down options, reporting and support make this an extraordinary subscription-based billing tool.

Check out ChargeBee in our Marketplace for more detailed information!

1. Chargebee has come with a solution to simplify the billing process ?

2. ChargeBee, Announces $350 K Funding By Undisclosed Group of Private Angel Investors in US ?

Interview with ChargeBee CEO and Co-founder, Krish Subramanian:

Q. What moved you to pursue to build ChargeBee? What does it do different than other products?

I started the business with 3 other friends. I started my career in a startup and enjoyed it. Most importantly realized how much I missed it after moving to bigger companies. As a bunch each of have always been fascinated by journey of Zoho, showcasing that building a global tech product out of anywhere in the world is possible and how it positively impacted lives. We wanted to pursue the dream of making those decisions building a business on our own, which is what inspired us.

Subscription & Recurring Billing is still evolving & we see lots of business model innovation by eCommerce, SAAS & variety of other business verticals. Our philosophy is to deliver most features & integrations to help address the SMB segment – what Zuora is to enterprises is what ChargeBee aspires to be for SMBs. Besides the founding team is very engineering focused, with experience productizing ideas & building scalable products for the past 14+ years.

And we have taken a API first approach to building the product that allows companies to scale all the way to hundreds of employees & multi-million dollars in revenue. You can start with a simple integration and build sophistication. Every one of our big customers started off with thousands of dollars in revenue with us to scale to millions in ARR now.

Q. What has been the most challenging experience in building ChargeBee?

As a core group focused on engineering, learning to focus on go-to-market strategy to give the startup the initial push in market was slightly hard. But once we started building traction it was a question of inspiring to bring a passionate group together and facilitating them to be successful in their roles. Learning those aspects of building a business is a definite challenge.

Q. What has been a major influence for the design behind ChargeBee?

Definitely Zoho, as that is where 3 of my co-founders have spent all their career. And Freshdesk has been leading the way for us. We in fact have literally followed their footsteps taking up their first office as we moved out of an apartment and subsequently our current office when they moved out of this. And we got funded by Accel Partners, who have also funded Freshdesk.

Q. Who is this product for?

We serve customers in Subscription Commerce, Software-As-A-Service, Co-working spaces, marketing / SEO services businesses for their monthly recurring billing, Premium Newsletter Services, Non-profits and Resellers of software. We see some very interesting & novel business services that are thriving like meal planning, meal deliver, food tasting boxes and pet food subscriptions.

Q. Who would be a better spokesperson for ChargeBee: Superman, Batman, or Spiderman?

Batman – with his Christian Bale like husky voice & nerdy background.

Q. What is in store for the future for ChargeBee?

We are integrating with several services, partnering with them and closing the loop for most business use cases and that is our number one priority right now. We are pretty excited about our expanding our market presence across multiple geographies & verticals with local presence in most local markets where our customers are.

There is a big push on Subscription Analytics that is happening at ChargeBee. We have been delivering hand-delivered analytics to our growing customers over the past few months and we are baking in “SAAS Metrics” as we call it as part of product. We are very excited with our product roadmap and what we can do to our customers.

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