If there is any downside to Stripe, the payments startup that makes it simple to accept payments online without having to first set up a merchant account, it’s that the service is aimed at developers and other technical users. Newly launched payment system MoonClerk wants to change that, by making it easy for non-programmers to quickly accept and mange both recurring and one-time payments on their own websites.
MoonClerk is a DIY alternative to working with Stripe through platforms supporting Stripe Connect, such as ShopLocket, Shopify, Wufoo, and others. Today, non-developers and other small businesses can set up their web presence using one of those services – for example, establishing their e-commerce store on Shopify – and then begin taking Stripe payments through the provided integrations.
But many small businesses and other organizations already have their own websites up-and-running, and would rather just have an option to enable Stripe payments on their established sites. With MoonClerk, that’s now possible. After stepping through an online form builder, configuring options, the style and colors, MoonClerk then returns a link and embed code which can be used on any website.
Founded in May by Dodd Caldwell (CEO) and Ryan Wood (CTO), the two-person team participated in their local startup accelerator, The Iron Yard, over the summer, then launched into private beta this November. Earlier this year, the company started opening up more broadly, and now that the kinks have been worked out, MoonClerk is available to anyone.
Caldwell says he was inspired to create the service because it was something he wanted to use himself. Before MoonClerk, he was building software for non-profits at a company he created called Bellstrike, and was in search of an easier and more cost-effective way to accept recurring payments.
“We looked around for what other options were out there in terms of small businesses and non-profits being able to accept recurring payments, but we didn’t think they were really great checkout experiences, or they would require people to go get merchant accounts,” explains Caldwell. “We really liked being able to have the immediate sign-up process, which Stripe Connect allowed us to do, where nobody would have to get a merchant account, or a gateway, an SSL certificate, or anything like that,” he adds.
He also wanted to be able to style the checkout experience and embed it on the site so it would look more like part of the website itself. Caldwell was already struggling with low conversion rates because of his use of PayPal, and says it was a “no-brainer” to start working on MoonClerk instead.
As a non-technical person himself, he recruited Wood, who had previously done contract work on Bellstrike, to help him build the company. Today, the system does more than just bring Stripe to non-programmers – it also adds a lot of value on top in the form of additional features.
MoonClerk supports one-time payments, as well as monthly, quarterly and annual recurring payments. To get started, you’re walked through an online form builder where you can style the checkout experience using themes, or for web designers, custom CSS is also available. You can also design your form using a number of options related to your checkout process, like whether you need to add on a standard percentage in addition to the total, or charge a shipping fee, or whether the customer can choose what time of the month the recurring payment should be deducted, and more.
After creating the form and providing your own credit card for the MoonClerk monthly fee, you fill in your banking information with Stripe Connect to complete the process. You then have the embed code for the site as well as link that you can share elsewhere, like on Facebook and Twitter.
MoonClerk also supports email notifications to send receipts to customers, and next week, support for coupons and discounts codes will be added, too. Dodwell says they have a long product roadmap ahead of them, building in all those little things that people need for their own sites. For instance, another upcoming feature will allow customers to select an optional add-on at checkout (e.g. would you like to also add X for $5 per month?)
Based in Greenville, S.C., MoonClerk is entirely bootstrapped, funded through Caldwell’s previous investments in real estate. He doesn’t plan to raise funding. Through word-of-mouth, the company has found a few dozen or so early customers, some of whom are already processing $10,000 per month using the service.