As a professional working in an internet related business and as an entrepreneur, I have been an avid user of dozens of SaaS products. I love them. I love discovering new ones and learning the ropes and seeing the benefits they can bring to me as an individual or the use cases for business that I can take advantage of. I want to try them all, I want to use them all, but of course, there is one thing stopping me from doing so… my bank account.
Some of the services I use range from $5 a month all the way up to $300 per month. My personal stack of SaaS products run in the amount of $540 per month! Some of these services are “must haves” but a lot are simply “want to haves”. As an entrepreneur looking to start a business, I know the advantages that these tools can bring me and how useful they are to have in my arsenal but the realist in me also knows that the burn rate they bring is simply unsustainable.
With the majority of these subscriptions I have, I have really begun to notice that I hardly ever use them to their full capacity, whether that is to the imposed limitations of a certain plan, (eg – 10 projects in total allowed and I only use 3 or 4, or certain requests allowed per month of which I only meet 50%). This leads me to often find myself in drawn-out conversations both through email and through calls, communicating my circumstances to some of these companies, asking if they are able to offer me a different pricing plan than is offered on their website. More than not, we are able to negotiate a plan that works for both of us but the process of doing so is arduous and time-consuming, even for someone who has done this multiple times.
I have often wished that there was a way for me to share these costs with other users in need of the same service, in the same boat as me, who;
- Cannot afford the full subscription price themselves.
- Never reach the limitations imposed by the plan.
- Really, really want or need to use the service!
I wouldn’t have a clue on where to start to find someone who matches those 3 criteria and who is willing to share a subscription.
I am creating a platform to solve this problem and I am truly excited by the prospect and benefits that a platform like this could bring to the countless others who may be in the same boat. Not to mention the global reach it could have and impact on developing nations in particular!
The way I see this project, fundamentally, is that the platform is a service that acts as the middleman between the user and the SaaS company’s pricing plan. No longer do these plans have to be set in stone and lose customers simply because there appeared to be no other pricing solution to meet their need. Why not let the users determine their own plan?
Account sharing has always had a stigma attached to it by businesses. Understandably so, as it has always been seen that this is a potential loss of revenue. This thought pattern is often detrimental, as the biggest part of getting a sale for a product, is testing it. Someone sharing an account is doing just that, they are testing it. Albeit for free, but nevertheless, they are using it and are therefore a more qualified lead than just a visitor. They clearly have the need of the service or they wouldn’t go through the effort of sharing an account with someone. There is simply a boundary that is stopping them from making the commitment themselves and more often than not, that is the price. Instead of punishing that potential user by blocking them from account sharing, offer them an alternative.
There are also a multitude of other benefits that can be gained by adopting an account sharing perspective.
- Improve your brand identity by showing that you are willing to lead the way in sharing economy. You are not some evil corporation who only sees $$$’s and the bottom line. You care about your users and more importantly, you care about your potential users! After all, your brand is the collective experience of everyone using it!
- Help developing nations get access to the tools they need and be a leader in an emerging economy.
- Improve visibility and brand awareness by becoming a leader in the Share Economy.
- Reach a much larger market by tapping in to a new demographic that you had ruled out before. Make your product accessible to everyone, no matter their budget!
- Gain further insights. Everyone knows that data is king and by increasing your potential market and user base, you increase the amount of data you can collect and learn from. Empower your analytics with data you would otherwise not have had!
The Trust Economy & the Access Economy
These days we get in to cars with total strangers, sleep in houses of people we have never met and even lend money to others across the globe. Entirely based on trust. Why shouldn’t we also extend that to sharing subscriptions?
These things bring collaboration to a new level and a further sense of community that is often lacking in today’s world. If you recognised the 3 examples I gave above then you should be aware that trust is quickly becoming the most valued, global currency and reputation (those 5 stars next to a username) is the one empowering it.
I truly hope that Oxus can be the platform that changes the way subscriptions are handled. Currently, in a closed beta, we are working hard to solve the problems associated with sharing accounts. If you are interested in the fight for democratizing subscription services, as a user, or as a business, I encourage you to get in touch with me.
For those reading who either work at a SaaS company or know someone who might be the one to make a decision on whether to join this movement, please get in touch ASAP. We are looking for our launching partners before the public launch of the platform in August 2018.