Big Idea

Chill, the bill is on us

Chennai-based tech firm ChargeBee is making life easy for startups across the world by managing their invoices

RA Chandroo

In 2011, when Krish Subramanian decided to quit his technology specialist job with Cognizant to launch his own venture, he persuaded two friends, Rajaraman Santhanam and T Thiyagarajan, to take the plunge as well. Their common mentor at Chennai-based product company Zoho, KP Saravanan, spent long hours persuading the duo to reconsider their decision — only to chuck his job and join as the fourth co-founder. The idea that so excited these four may sound rather simple — a service that helps companies manage their online subscription billings — but ChargeBee has already proved itself a winner. The Chennai-based start-up now has over 500 customers, processes over $2 million worth of their customers’ transactions every month and has even managed to raise $1.17 million in funding. With the world moving to a subscription-based economy and more consumers transacting online, the party has just started for ChargeBee.

Getting started

In April 2011, Subramanian had just got his passport stamped for a project with Cognizant in the US. After a decade in software services, working with companies such as TCS and Cognizant, this was business as usual for the then 31-year-old. But he was restless — ever since he had helped build an online auction portal at his first job at Matexnext, Subramanian wanted to do something on his own. A weekend before the scheduled trip, Subramanian attended TiE Chennai’s Unconference, an event where entrepreneurs get together to share and discuss ideas. There, he spoke of an idea he had in mind — developing a billing system that manages invoices and collects payments from customers for companies offering a service or product on a subscription basis. “Everybody has a business, be it software or e-commerce. You need a billing system to collect repeat payments and manage invoices and multiple payment gateways. I wanted to build a service that companies could plug-and-play instead of trying to develop unique billing systems on their own,” says the CEO and co-founder of ChargeBee. The response at the conference was positive, with most of the entrepreneurs Subramanian spoke with telling him their start-up would use such a product. 

That was all that Subramani

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