Krish Subramanian, co-founder and CEO, Chargebee

Season 2, Episode 36,   May 25, 2022, 07:44 AM

We speak to Chargebee’s Krish Subramanian about the subscription business, communicating as a trained extrovert, and the importance of authenticity and hiring in a fast-paced business environment.

Our guest in this 25th interview with a unicorn start-up leader is Chargebee CEO and co-founder Krish Subramanian.

Chargebee is a subscription management platform that automates the operations of over 4,000 high-growth subscription-based businesses. Founded in 2011, the company reached unicorn status in April 2021 and has now raised a total of $470 million in funding with a valuation of $3.5bn. Chargebee integrates with the leading payment gateways like Stripe, Braintree, and PayPal around the world to let you automate recurring payment collection along with invoicing, taxes, accounting, email notifications, SaaS metrics and customer management.  

Krish is a software engineer by training, and he had the idea of learning to build a good company and to "fall in love with some good boring problems." Subscription management is one of those problems that is now growing in complexity and infrastructure. His mission continues to be the same, even if he couldn’t have foreseen that so many businesses would embrace subscriptions the way they have today.  

In this episode, Krish explains how he has seen the SaaS business evolve, and how companies like Netflix or Slack have been changing their subscription models based on customer experience and driving other companies to follow suit. Krish himself constantly thinks about how he can integrate his customer’s story to his product roadmap, and he admits that at Chargebee they "strongly lean on listening to customers and taking feedback very seriously to build and solve the right problems."

Krish also explains how they have built their culture at Chargebee around their employee’s experiences, and this led them to identify core values such as empathy, customer-centricity, bias to action and curiosity. They haven’t just been aspirational with their culture, they have built it around their rituals and habits, he explains. Now, Krish says, as he has a workforce of 1,200 people spread across the world, his job is "mainly focused on making sure that we are able to bring the right talent into the organisation and then communicating more often about what we are doing, and bringing that consistency internally and externally."

One of the biggest challenges he has faced, as the company continues to grow, is learning "to hire people who are extremely better than you, who have been executives in other companies, and manage them as well." That is a journey most first-time founders as himself did not go through, as he was always a developer before founding Chargebee.  

The Chargebee founder also highlights the importance of authenticity as a communicator. He explains how he is very grateful for the number of people who put themselves out there in an authentic way, without trying to look or sound different, and how he has learnt by listening to figures like Brian Halligan (Hubspot CEO and founder). Finally, Krish shares a connecting piece of communications advice to those wanting to succeed in business: invest time in educating yourself. "Watch more podcasts, listen to others talk... There is so much to learn!" 

The interview, as usual, was co-hosted with Russell Goldsmith of the csuite podcast

We have distilled the most valuable, actionable insights from our first 15 interviews with leaders of unicorn companies and bottled them in our book ‘Growing without borders: The unicorn CEO guide to communication and culture’. You can download it here