Spreedly Blog

How we worked with a competitor to win the “Netflix of India” business

For those of you who don’t know, Spreedly was born from a consulting project that bogged down trying to implement recurring billing with PayPal as a gateway. Being developers we wanted a service that was easy to integrate and gave our customers freedom from archaic business and development practices found at many payment gateways. Over time, we realized that the infrastructure that we built to support our recurring service was applicable as a stand alone offering. So we broke that out separately from our recurring solution and offered it as a stand alone service. At that time we called it Spreedly Core although it’s now just Spreedly.

I was on AngelList some time back and noticed an Indian based startup focused on subscriptions called ChargeBee. It was probably something along the lines of “We now support Stripe!” So I contacted one of the founders (Krish) and said “You know, if you integrated to Spreedly you’d immediately be able to offer 45 different payment gateways. In addition, because you vault your customers’ cards away from the gateways, they have the ability to switch at any time. Stripe just launch in Europe? Sure you can switch because we’ve vaulted the cards.”

It was an odd marriage. Here we were selling a subscription/recurring service in the marketplace that in many ways directly competed with ChargeBee. It was just as strange for them as well! Trust a key component of your stack to a competitor? (Maybe we can convince Krish to write a post to explain how they rationalized it.) At Spreedly we thought – what if someone prefers ChargeBee over our subscriptions service but only chooses us because we support their gateway choice and ChargeBee doesn’t? Or because storing their cards away from the gateway is critical? I guess getting a win is a win. It seemed much cooler though to help all ChargeBee customers (and therefore ourselves) by offering them access to Spreedly’s new service.

Around 2 – 3 months after we began working together I got an email from Times Internet of India. They were planning to launch the “Netflix of India”. They wanted card vaulting, gateway independence and subscription/recurring functionality. We could have tried to go it alone but here was ChargeBee who was a) in the same time zone, b) better able to support the customer in terms of customizations and modifications and c) could supply all the goodness we could as they were on top of Core. So all three parties worked together and earlier this month BoxTV.com was launched. (It turns out when I mentioned ChargeBee both sides had already had some discussions so that didn’t hurt.)

It’s not just ChargeBee either. Fusebill, another subscription management offering is also using Spreedly. I was explaining Spreedly Core to their CEO on a call when he stopped me mid-sentence and said “Adding payment gateways on a case by case basis is a huge pain for us! How can we take advantage of what you’ve built?”

We’ve definitely driven business to our customers when they weren’t a fit for our subscription offering. In addition, we’re a stronger company based on the growth and usage we get as our customers grow overall. And we drive more independence into the marketplace as a whole.

Sometimes some of your best customers might be where you least expect to find them.