Better Payments Solutions Lead to SaaS Scalability with Rao Chejarla of Saaslogic
Welcome to an insightful episode of PayPod. We invent the dynamic landscape of the Software as a Service (SaaS) industry with Rao Chejarla, founder and CEO of Saaslogic. Exploring its current trends and future potential, we discuss the emergence of SaaS companies as essential players in the commercial world and the evolution of the software development industry over the past decade. The conversation navigates through the founding of Saaslogic and its service offerings, providing insights into the genesis of the company and the unique value it brings to the market.
Lessons You’ll Learn:
This segment uncovers key insights into the strategic decision-making processes behind the founding of Saaslogic and the challenges and opportunities inherent in scaling SaaS platforms. Rao Chejarla shares his expertise on hybrid billing options and the power they offer for SaaS companies to adapt to evolving customer needs in software development. Additionally, the importance of leveraging customer feedback for subscription-based businesses is explored, highlighting the critical role of regular communication in driving product innovation and customer satisfaction within software development.
About Our Guest:
Rao Chejarla is the visionary founder and CEO of Saaslogic, a next-gen SaaS billing and subscription management platform. With a wealth of experience in the software development industry, Rao brings a unique perspective to the conversation, offering insights into the intersection of software development, payments, and SaaS business strategies. As a thought leader in the fintech space with a dedication to driving innovation and delivering exceptional value to customers, he earned recognition as a pioneer in the SaaS industry.
Including the differentiation of Saaslogic from competitors and legacy providers in software development, the strategic decision to build a proprietary payment gateway, and the importance of observing industry trends and adapting strategies accordingly, this episode covers a range of topics. The conversation also touches on the characteristics of successful companies and individuals in the SaaS world, emphasizing the importance of ambition, strategic thinking, and effective communication in driving innovation and growth within the realm of software development.
Our Guest: Rao Chejarla- The Frontier in Software Development in Payments
Rao Chejarla is a seasoned entrepreneur and visionary leader in the software development and fintech industries. With over two decades of experience, Rao has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of the Software as a Service (SaaS) industry. As the founder and CEO of Saaslogic, Rao brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table, driving innovation and delivering cutting-edge solutions to SaaS businesses worldwide. Prior to founding Saaslogic, Rao founded Expeed Software, a company specializing in software development services for SaaS platforms. His experience at Expeed Software provided him with invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing SaaS companies, ultimately leading to the founding of Saaslogic.
Rao’s journey in the software industry began with a passion for technology and a drive to solve complex problems. Over the years, he has honed his skills in software development, strategic planning, and business development, positioning himself as a trusted advisor and thought leader in the fintech space. With a keen eye for industry trends and a deep understanding of customer needs, Rao has guided Saaslogic to become a leading provider of billing and subscription management solutions for SaaS businesses.
As a thought leader and entrepreneur, Rao is committed to sharing his knowledge and insights in software development with the next generation of fintech professionals. Through his work at Saaslogic, Rao continues to redefine software development practices within the SaaS industry, pushing the boundaries of innovation and empowering businesses to excel in an ever-evolving digital landscape. With a strong focus on innovation, collaboration, and customer-centricity, Rao remains at the forefront of the fintech revolution, driving positive change and shaping the future of the SaaS industry through cutting-edge software development strategies.
Rao Chejarla: Definitely ability to really observe the trends in the software industry. When you really get down to the work, it’s very easy to get blindsided with all the stuff that is happening and not paying attention to the macro trends that are taking place in the industry. That is extremely important for you to really play any leadership role as you go forward in your career, and then you need to have ability to really communicate all these things that you are observing. You need to be able to translate into the solutions of ability to really apply to the problems at hand. If you can do that and then communicate and convince the teams, I think that would be tremendously valuable.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Hello, everyone. Welcome to PayPod. I’m your host, Jacob Hollabaugh. And today on the show, we are talking SaaS and we are talking payments as we take a look at the intersection of those two worlds. All companies are built with the hope of some level of scalability, of course, but SaaS companies in particular really are founded on the idea of scalability, and extreme upside. And as it turns out, one of the biggest obstacles, maybe the biggest obstacle in the way of that isn’t even the product, the software itself, but instead the back end, the billing, the subscription management, being able to handle that scalability and not be so cumbersome that you lose clients when trying to scale to great heights. So today on the show, we are going to look at this intersection of payments and billing with SaaS companies and how this area of our fintech world could be operating more efficiently. I’m pleased to be joined for this conversation by Rao Chejarla, founder and CEO of Saaslogic, the next-gen SaaS billing and subscription management platform helping you jump-start your SaaS business. Rao, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Rao Chejarla: Thank you, Jacob. I’m glad to be here.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Yes, we are very glad to have you. And before we dive into your company or companies and kind of the SaaS more the nitty gritty of the SaaS world, let’s kind of start with a little bit of an overview of where the SaaS industry and kind of market are at these days in 2024. You know, we’ve seen the explosion of SaaS companies in the last decade, longer even than the last decade, but especially throughout the 20 tens. It became one of the biggest industries in the world, one of the biggest market sizes in the world. And it’s kind of hard to tell if we’re still in the like. We’re still just getting started. This is still going to get a lot bigger. There’s still a lot of new ground to break, or if we have reached some level of maturity within kind of the SaaS ecosystem. So question then for you is kind of what do you see as the SaaS market right now. Do you see kind of the number of new entrants every year slowing down ever at any point? Have we reached any bit of maturity? Are we going to ever see some consolidation? What’s your kind of just read overall on the SaaS industry right now as we speak in early 2024?
Rao Chejarla: Yeah, Great question. I mean, if you look at it, we come a long way. If you look at some of the statistics, SaaS businesses are about $200 billion industry as of last year. And it is just to grow to something like 280 or $300 billion this year. But again, if you look at its adoption, most of its adoption is in countries like the US and Europe. It’s the rest of the world is still it is. Put in terms of adoption. So I think it has the potential to go up to $3000, the overall worth. So I think even though we have made a lot of progress, I think we have a long way to go. so it’s just we have a lot to offer in terms of a number of products and then services and all that. I think we have a long way to go.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Yeah. And I think the geography part of it is also, you’re right to call that out because I am certainly guilty of it. And I think a lot of folks in the US are guilty at times of kind of thinking, well, what’s our market saturated, but especially in the payments and financial world it’s like, well the markets the globe eventually here. And so it has been a common theme in the last year of companies doing the next step of as different markets reach kind of full potential here in the States to some degree of, “Okay, how do we take these products and services to new markets, to new places?” So with all that in mind, then take me back about two years ago, if I have my dates, a little over two years ago, at the time, you had been running your first company, Expeed Software, for a decade and a half, and that itself is a company based on helping SaaS companies scale. But you saw something or something happened where you decided to launch a second company, that being Saaslogic. So what was it that was going on a couple of years ago? What did you see? What was the general idea or the need that you saw that led you to found the second company, Saaslogic?
Rao Chejarla: So as you said, I have another company called Expeed Software. I mean, the primary business of Expeed Software is providing software development services to our customers. So the process, we built a lot of SaaS products, and we have seen a lot of things being repeated again and again. Right? So one thought and me coming from a software development background, I always wanted to bring tools and technologies to make it easier to build enterprise-scale SaaS products. So that’s the initial idea to just let’s build tools and technologies that are required to make it easy for building SaaS products and businesses. So when I started doing that, the one thing that really came out was the payments and monetization piece. Right? That is one thing couples for our customers. So we thought we were looking at a whole thing as one piece the making, building products, and monetization, all those things have one piece. As I started thinking more and more, payments by itself is an industry. And when I started researching there was enough traction for that. So we thought, “Okay, let’s first launch payments, the whole monetization piece as one product.” So that’s where the Saaslogic idea came from. And then we basically launched that, we built the product to really allow SaaS businesses to really monetize their products very easily. And so that’s how it started.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Yeah, makes perfect sense. And it’s a pretty common theme we’ve heard here, talking to different companies that do help with payments or billing and a lot of different areas usually it is the portion of an industry that is the most overlooked for a while or uses the generic option to facilitate that. And eventually, someone comes along like yourself and says, this seems to be the area of the industry that is the most cumbersome or could use the most innovation or changes in it. And steps up and does this just that. With Saaslogic, then what is kind of the main differentiating factor compared to competitors or to those legacy providers that you were hoping to displace?
Rao Chejarla: This place is not without competition. There are definitely a number of players who have been long before us. So I recognized that. So one thing that we are trying to bring to the table, we come from the background of building SaaS products for a long time. So we do understand one of the pain points is integrations. We understand how you would feel when you have to integrate with some other products. So if you are in the SaaS business, I think we understand your pain when you are integrating with third parties. So that is one thing that we put a lot of emphasis on. We make sure that we work with our customers to make it easy, as easy as possible to really integrate. And we also have ideas to the table on how to really improve your overall SaaS product, not just bringing the payment solutions. We actually have a general, advisory capability for your SaaS businesses and products, right? In terms of differentiations, we definitely provide them with a lot of complex billing scenarios. I mean, if you go to products like Stripe and things like that, stripe started as a payment gateway, but they are also entering into this subscription billing right now. But, actually, when you compare it to Stripe, we are bringing a lot of complex billing scenarios. We can handle them very easily. And also we have integrations with accounting systems. Every time you basically make a change to your subscription plans, it has an impact on your downstream financial systems. So our goal is to make sure that we are pushing all these things to your accounting system so that your accounting people don’t have to really worry about where the subscriptions are managed.
Rao Chejarla: They just have they’re still looking into their systems and then they have the financial insights. So that is one thing we take very seriously. And also another thing is our customers, basically our merchants, they have customers, right? So we actually provide a very intuitive customer portal for our merchants, customers. We basically provide a self-service portal for our customers. So not only taking care of customers, our merchants. We are taking care of our merchants, customers. We put a lot of emphasis on that. And we also put a lot of emphasis on notifications. Our notifications are superior. At every point of the life cycle of the subscription, you should make sure that everybody involved is constantly put in the loop for communications. That’s something we make it very easy. We can customize the templates of communication. And the customer, our merchant has complete control over that. Yeah. So things like that. I think we have features that differentiate us. And also we have some more things on the roadmap, like for example, we are trying to cater to high billing, subscriptions, and things like that. When you go into high billing, like for thousands of dollars of subscriptions, usually you end up having contracts somewhere you have to sign the legal contractual documents. So we’re trying to make it easy for you to bring those things also into the flow. So the difference between we’re getting to B2B, I think pretty well, even when your numbers are pretty high.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Makes perfect sense. And I love just the idea of coming at it with being able to bring the experience you’ve had of, again, as I mentioned earlier, your first company being SaaS focused, being in the industry for basically almost the lifespan of it or the modern version of it, and being able to bring that actual expertise of, we’re going to make these new products, but we’re not the payments company coming in to make these products for you that doesn’t understand what is actually going on with these businesses and has all that to learn. We understand all of that. And we figured out how to offer you the new solutions on top of it. You’re from the ecosystem itself, which is going to just be a massive, massive advantage for you and for those you work with. You referenced in there the complexity of the types of billing options that you’re able to run through. And I was reading one of your blog posts from, I think it was only a month or two back at this point about the power of hybrid billing options, and that’s a little bit more of a newer idea because a lot of the SaaS companies wanting to go with very strict, streamlined, specific billing options, historically both because it’s easier for them, but also because maybe the solutions available only kind of allow them to. How new of an idea to the industry is having hybrid billing models built in. And can you speak to kind of some of the options that hybrid billing offers, the benefits it drives for the SaaS companies employing it, etc?
Rao Chejarla: Hybrid billing is the concept where you make it easy for your customers to consume your SaaS product. I’m sure I mean if you have fixed price plans and then straightforward, monthly fixed amount of money, those are easy and then easier to understand, easier to implement and all that. But at the end of the day, as customers, if they have the flexibility to really know consume things as and when they need, they pay only for what they consume, I think you’re providing much more value to your customers and it is easier for them to really subscribe to your products. For example, the number of users, using a particular SaaS product could vary month to month. One way is just to force these customers to purchase a certain number of seats for the entire year or so. In other ways, just allow them to really just pay for only the actual number of users that really use the product, like active users. those kinds of things are there, I think, in the industry. But it is less than common. So there is an opportunity to really bring this kind of pay-for-what-you-use kind of model into the mix and make it easier for companies to adapt the products. so it’s not entirely new. It’s there, but I think, the adoption is still a little low thing that could be improved. And that is what we bring to the table on our platform. We make it easy for you to use, bring your regular plans, like a fixed price plan, and then a fixed number of licenses and things like that. But also we make it very easy for you to really model pricing plans that are based on consumption model or usage model, right? So you just pay for what you use, just like utility billing. So those kinds of things, we are trying to make it easy and those are already built in the platform. They’re available.
Jacob Hollabaugh: That’s amazing. And you use the word utility I think is really important because in, my mind I kind of feel like that’s what the SaaS industry to some degree is. And what a lot of software for companies is like they are the utility. The analogy to the utilities in your home or whatever is kind of perfect. We do need all of them, but we need them at different rates and different amounts at different times. And it would be great for the customers to only have to do the end customers, the only have to pay for what they are using. And it’s great that companies like yours and the options you’re offering are going to help that adoption be able to actually take place for the SaaS companies who, I can only assume their main reason for not doing it really has been like it’s no one else. You know, no one else is making that easy for us to do, and we don’t want to build that tool internally. And so we kind of stick with the status quo until someone like yourself comes around and says, I can help you do that quite easily. So that’s a big change I think will help. You know, I like hearing that. It’s something that will help the end people a lot.
Rao Chejarla: If you look at it, I mean, it’s understandable why people are not offering. As you said, it’s not easy to build those things. When you are providing a functionality, a CRM, or accounting, or what other features, those are more important and core to your product? And then the subscription is a necessary thing. But again you can’t put as much effort and energy into building subscription features and compared to actually your core features.
Jacob Hollabaugh: It can only come after you’ve built out the actual product and everything itself. And so it makes sense that it was kind of left to last and that it takes someone like yourself coming in and saying, we can do that for you, versus you having to figure out how to do it on your own. Now, one other thing you’ve built of your own within Saaslogic is you built your own payment gateway with saaslogic pay, and very curious what the kind of thought process was behind going. We’ve referenced all the integrations a lot in this conversation. You know, there’s always the integration route, but you went the route of building your own payment gateway. So can you walk me through the decision behind that? And what the kind of purpose of doing that is or what the hopes with that is long-term.
Rao Chejarla: So, Jacob, we actually did not build the payment gateway. Just to be transparent, we actually partnered with another company to bring a payment gateway solution also into the mix. The thought process there is, we are basically we’re agnostic and to payment gateways, we integrate with whatever the customer prefers. We are open, but we are also trying to make it easy for when somebody is getting started. instead of them having to go to the payment gateway and then coming back to us, and then we are trying to provide everything in one place to make it easy. That’s why, we, to provide that experience and to make it easy for our merchants, especially smaller merchants. we’re just trying to provide the experience of onboarding merchants in one place. So we actually partnered with another company to bring a white-label solution or payment gateway. What we did is in the process, if you’re going to Stripe and other payment gateways, you basically create an account there and come to us and give us access. We just started interacting with that payment gateway on your behalf. In this scenario, actually, the whole onboarding process of merchants for payments will happen in our in our portal. So this is basically an attempt to provide a better experience. better onboarding experience for our merchants.
Speaker3: Yeah, makes perfect sense. And we love we definitely love getting into the nitty gritty kind of the payment sides here. Hence you know, the name of the show. Now, one other thing you referenced earlier on in the conversation is discussing, I find kind of fascinating is the idea of customer feedback being very important, but not just your merchants as clients, but the next level down of the people, the customers of your customers. And knowing that ultimately you need to kind of be getting feedback or having some touch points with everyone in that ecosystem. And I’d read a blog, another one of your blog posts recently about leveraging customer feedback and the importance of regular communication and feedback with your customer base. And then that kind of piqued my interest that you referenced not just your customers, but the customers of your customers. So can you speak about the importance of why you find it so important to have that regular communication in feedback, especially as it relates to, in the world of subscription-based businesses, why it’s kind of even maybe more important than it’s pretty important for any business, we could argue. But in the world of subscription-based businesses, it seems pretty paramount.
Rao Chejarla: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, like you mentioned, it is definitely one of the very important things to have customer feedback for any business. So once we launched our product, and we started getting customers, it’s the number of things we learned was amazing, right? We just build it with the assumption that this is how it’s going to be used. I think you would be surprised on day one, what customer will come back and what kind of feedback they give. So it’s very important for any business to really take these customers’ feedback very seriously, especially in the payments and subscription industry when you’re, when you’re talking about subscription for SaaS products integration is the key. right. You want to and then because that integration is actually providing experience to their customers also, it goes to the concept of smooth customer experience across the whole ecosystem. So SaaS business is a subscription business. You want to make sure that your customers are feeling smooth when it comes to integration, and then they are bringing smooth flow for their customers as well. So that’s why we feel it’s important to really talk to your customers always, and then find out what really took a longer time for them to integrate, what are the areas that we can improve. So we learned those things, a lot of them, actually just with one customer initially. So you know, it’s very important because you want to make the whole integration very smooth and successful for customers.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Absolutely. And that’s fantastic to hear because unfortunately, that is it’s not always commonplace across the wide commercial world that companies take that level of approach. So love to hear that. I want to end our conversation here. I always like to ask great fintech leaders like yourself, a couple of business development, personal development questions at the end, when you have the kind of advantage point you have between your two companies, you’ve seen and worked with a lot of SaaS companies over the years. You’ve, I’m sure, seen many, many super successful ones and others that maybe didn’t last or didn’t stand the test of time. So from your experience what would you say from all the different SaaS companies you’ve interacted with over the years? What would you say? Or maybe 1 or 2 characteristics that stand out about a company or its leadership or its culture that kind of stand out as key indicators that that company is going to be successful, that if you saw these 1 or 2 things early on, you kind of know in your mind, “I feel good about that company making it and being really successful.”
Rao Chejarla: Yeah, some of the things that stuck out for me always are, the founders, the leadership team, they’re ambitious. They always want to solve bigger problems. You know, sometimes it may sound crazy the kind of things they want to solve, but they just go for it. They can think bigger than what they see around them. they just they’re not limited. and the second thing is just having ambition is not enough. So they back it up with strategy and then practices and then build the teams to really just help them along the way. So you know, and then take a lot of action. Of course, a lot of action doesn’t mean just scattered all over the world. But just make sure that you are taking a lot of action and focused on the task that you want to do. So ambition, the ability to really back it up with the strategy and then take action. When you see teams like that, you would know that it is just a matter of time even though their first attempt is not really working they’re not going to give it up. They know how to pivot it. Sometimes your first journey may not really just go as expected. You just take a few steps and you realize, “Hey I have to take a right turn here.” Being able to make those kind of judgment calls and pivoting at the right time is extremely important. I think teams that can do are prone to succeed.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Yeah, I love that. It’s a fantastic mix. And I certainly echo the action part, part of that. If you’re taking enough of it then yeah, those are the folks who are going to eventually find it, even if they don’t find it on day one, that taking that action will help you eventually find it, find that pivot, get to that next place. The last question then for you is taking that same thing to the individual level. For anyone listening who’s maybe just starting out within the world of SaaS or even in the greater fintech ecosystem, what are 1 or 2 personality traits you think are super important to develop early on if you’re hoping to build a successful career within the SaaS world?
Rao Chejarla: So, you’re not talking about entrepreneurship or you’re talking about people.
Jacob Hollabaugh: They could be leaders of the companies. definitely or just anyone wanting to work in this industry. Are there any things that stand out, “If you’re going to work in this world, no matter what role or position you have, you’re going to need these 1 or 2 things to definitely be successful?”
Rao Chejarla: Definitely. I mean, the ability to really observe the trends in the software industry. And that is extremely important because when you really get down to the work, it’s very easy to get blindsided with all the stuff that is happening and not paying attention to the trends that are really taking, macro trends that are taking place in the industry. That is extremely important for you to really play any leadership role as you succeed, as you go forward in your career. I think you want to really observe the trends, the macro kind of trends. And then you need to have the ability to really communicate. All these things that you’re observing, you need to be able to translate into solutions, ability to really apply to the problems at hand. So if you can do that and then communicate and convince the teams, “Hey, these are the technologies that we need to apply to solve these problems.” I think that would be tremendously valuable. Technology used to be just a tool to solve a problem. If you look at most of the companies of this era, technology is actually the strategy, right? It is at the center of the strategy. Just a boardroom discussion. So if you want to play the leadership role, I think you need to be very savvy with the trends. And then you need to be able to communicate how it is relevant to your business and what it can do to really expand and grow your business.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Love that. Yeah, I think that’s fantastic advice. And Rao, this has been a fantastic conversation overall. I’ve definitely learned a lot and I’m sure the listeners have as well. For those who would maybe want to learn more about Saaslogic, or possibly get in touch with you or the company, where’s the best place for them to find you?
Rao Chejarla: So you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And then we have the saaslogic.io, website. I don’t want to save my email address, but just people can text me at email@example.com. That’s how you can reach.
Jacob Hollabaugh: Wonderful. We will link to those and more in the show notes below. Rao, thank you so much for your time and knowledge today. I’ve greatly appreciated it and hope to speak again sometime soon.
Rao Chejarla: Thank you, Jacob. It has been really great.
Jacob Hollabaugh: If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, head on over to soarpay.com/podcast to subscribe on your podcast listening platform of choice. That’s soarpay.com/podcast.