Because getting to the first million is the hardest, stealthy new startup Seed Edition is launching a subscription billing platform designed specifically for seed stage companies. And it’s giving it away for free. According to Co-founder TJ Laher, it’s never been easier for two guys in a garage to build a product using Amazon Web Services, Ruby, etc., but it’s never been harder for a startup to make money.
“Competitors move faster, customers want everything for free, and monetization is an operational nightmare,” he says. “95% of startups never make it past the seed stage, and it’s not because of the Series A Crunch.”
OK, but what’s the deal with giving away Seed Edition’s services for free? That’s $100 million in services, or so the company claims.
Ah yes, there are a couple of caveats. Seed Edition isn’t giving the product away for free indefinitely – it’s giving it away for free until the startup in question has made its first million in revenue. In addition, the free deal is only being offered to 100 beta testers who sign up as Seed Edition early adopters. The company says it wants to support the next “Google, Facebook, Apple, or Zygna,” so startups aren’t being chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis. They have to be approved.
While the company’s founders won’t discuss the exact criteria being used to judge, the general requirement is just being an early stage startup. “We envision two guys or gals in a garage, or a dorm room, or coming out of an incubator like Y Combinator,” explains Seed Edition C0-founder Ben Wu. For those who don’t get access to the free service, the company plans to offer additional promotions or discounted pricing to seed stage startups in the future.
As for the service itself, it’s a fairly comprehensive offering that includes customer subscriptions, lifecycle management, invoicing, notifications, analytics, product pricing and more. One of Seed Editions first beta testers, PaaS service provider MCF Technology Solutions, has blogged about their experience, explaining in more detail how everything works and the challenges Seed Edition helps the overcome. The results are positive, writes CEO Govind Davis:
Seed Edition makes the entire process extremely simple. PayPal and Authorize.net gateways are supported so you simply get the appropriate account and enter credentials in the Seed Edition setup interface. It’s then an easy process to create a subscription model, add clients with regular payment patterns and begin billing on a regular basis. For more advanced use cases, Seed Edition provides a robust API to automate account and subscription creation, and to generate payment inquiries. The user interface is simple for billing staff and powerful for reporting and management activities.
Seed Edition has signed up around 20 companies so far, and is now trying to get the word out to more. However, Laher says the company is still operating in “double stealth mode,” so they won’t discuss their funding situation or what appear to be their Zuora ties. Given that Laher and Wu are still listed as Zuora employees on LinkedIn, and Zuora’s Danny Borelli and Dexter Hart are also listed as Seed Edition staff, one has to wonder about the Zuora connection here.
“We want both our product and our vision to speak for themselves…,” Laher says, in an attempt to explain the startup’s secretive nature, “we are focusing 100% of our launch efforts on helping seed companies succeed in making their first million. Anything else is a distraction.”
Companies can apply for Seed Edition via its homepage here.