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Show HN: ProsperStack – Use Stripe to automatically prevent cancellations (prosperstack.com)
53 points by gfloyd 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

Hi HN,

My co-founders and I created ProsperStack after working at a SaaS company and realizing how little we knew about why our customers were leaving. We wanted an easy way to collect data and prevent cancellations by incentivizing customers to stay, and realized that hooking into Stripe to automate the process would be super valuable.

The app can automatically present offers to a customer before they cancel using Stripe coupons, collect feedback from cancellations, and use your Stripe data to show meaningful churn metrics.

Thanks so much for checking it out and any feedback you might have!

As a customer i would LOVE to exploit this if it gets popular

Hah, we've definitely thought about that possibility. Fortunately we do have a few things in place to prevent the most obvious abuse cases, but we need to get popular first!

Ha! What would be the counter measures?

I am thinking someone on Reddit posting a trick to save money on your sub.

Right now it's fairly basic: we recommend you offer a limited discount (for example, 30% off for three months) and by default a customer can only accept one offer for their lifetime. That would at least minimize most of the risk.

On the roadmap are plans to target offers based on segmented customer data (lifetime value, etc.) so even if you did try to follow a trick posted on Reddit, it might not work for you!

I was immediately thinking the same, but I'd assume there are certain rules in place for when users are eligible for a discount and the amount of the discount.

This looks really awesome! Just curious, have you considered offering a "value added" pricing model for those who don't want to pay for a subscription? Meaning, you'd take some percent of revenue you've saved them (either as a 1x fee or as a recurring subscription as that customer stays on)?

Absolutely, we've definitely considered that. We're still experimenting with pricing!

Good to hear! If there's a way to contact you guys (LinkedIn or otherwise), I'm working on a project that has some adjacency so would love to chat if you guys have some time.

Would love to chat, contact info is at the bottom of the website, or you can email me directly (email address is in my profile).

You may want to add some more details.

Things I am missing

1. Documentation, how exactly does it integration with Stripe? How does it handle my weird subscription setups? etc.

2. Pricing, I know it says $79 a month in the blue banner, but if you are like me you basically look for a pricing page and all I see is "Start a free trial" I am going to close the site.

Beyond that I am fairly excited to see such a product come out, I am surprised Stripe doesn't have a setup to handle this.

1. Currently it imports all your previously canceled subscriptions to report on the amount of lost MRR and number of cancellations over time. The integration will also automatically create and apply Stripe coupons for you. For weird subscriptions setups, that is indeed a tricky issue, but it can actually be used if you're not using the "normal" Stripe subscriptions. You do lose out of some of the benefit (no Stripe coupons, so you need to handle offers manually, and no reporting). We're definitely planning on handling different setups though (including other payment providers). I'd love to learn more about your "weird" setup!

2. Makes total sense, thanks so much for the advice.

How does a flat $79/mo price make sense? Many small companies that could use this don't have that much worth of cancellations in a month assuming something like this will save them all. Medium-small and larger companies could justify paying much more than that. You need to have some kind of flexibility here. I'm thinking if you don't have more than $500 in monthly cancellations you would never be able to break even on something like this.

Honestly, it probably doesn't make sense long term! We wanted to get the product out the door with simple pricing to see how it works and adjust from there.

We're mostly worried about the sales cycle being too long with performance-based or scaling pricing, since none of the founders are trained salespeople. I'm realizing we're probably going to have to adjust that mindset and learn how to sell.

Congratulations on your launch, and best of luck to you, but...

As a customer, I don’t want to be “saved”. Treat me right in the first place and I will remain loyal. Otherwise, let’s part ways amicably without you wasting more of my time.

As a customer, I can imagine unsubscribing because some service was quite good, but not worth the full price for me. Maybe this service is still figuring out its pricing model. If they, for example, give me cheaper price and then keep it, I do not mind being "saved". Not sure how often this scenario will be considered though.

Congrats on launching. Very interesting. Does it support localization / customizing the look&feel? I couldn't work out if it's something that runs directly on our site, or we need to redirect to yours... I think some more documentation/info before you sign up for a trial can help give better confidence about what's involved and how it actually works (although the homepage is awesome and explains the value proposition super well).

Like others, I'm a bit on the fence about the ethical aspects of it. Yes, there's a lot to say about giving real value, listening to customers, but it does start going down the path towards darker patterns like Amazon Prime (there's a looong way to go down that path, but still feels like a step there). I'm not trying to criticize, but just voice my personal feeling around adding friction to cancellation.

The customization is limited right now (you can add your company logo, and customize the text for offers), since our initial focus was on getting the design and UX right. Localization and/or complete customization of the look and feel is definitely on the roadmap.

We'll get to work on adding some more documentation for sure, but the short answer is that it's a JavaScript widget that runs everything for you on your site. You can check out the technical docs on the NPM package here: https://www.npmjs.com/package/@prosperstack/flow

Thanks so much for the honest feedback. I definitely agree about steering away from dark patterns and adding friction to cancellation. We want the cancellation process to be super easy, and hope to try achieve a balance that actually benefits customers instead of trying to trap them into not leaving.

Interesting product! Have had to implement this before and certainly would check it out next time.

Have you thought about pricing based on performance?

At the low end, it could be "pays for itself": A monthly fee of max($79, mrr_preserved_that_month). When the fee cancels out the preserved mrr, the customer still gets data features of the product for free. Thinking mostly of the indiehacker crowd here.

At the high end, I suppose you could flex up to something like a percentage of mrr recovered with a cap.

(Always find subscription pricing economics interesting, especially to learn how others do it.)

Yeah, we've definitely discussed a pricing strategy like that. For now, we're just trying to keep it super simple until we get more data on how people are using it.

I know that virtually no startup gets pricing correct right out of the gate, so I'm sure we'll be tweaking it!

Most of the subscription based saas products make easy money on inactive users who are okay losing money for prospect on using the tool in near future.

Even though that is easy money, saas companies should offer "inactive account maintenance" fees rather than full subscription fees, when the user starts using it, they could charge them full. This is win-win situation where user gets to keep the account for smaller fees and companies can retain more customers.

ProsperStack like tools can offer these by default.

This is exactly what one of our first customers is using ProsperStack for. They use it to offer an "on hold" option to maintain the account data in read-only mode at a lower price.

Just let people cancel imo.

I don't disagree, but I don't see any harm in asking questions as to why they cancelled.

Sometimes all people want is a discount, and as a business losing $20 a month is better than losing a customer.

On the one hand, it's hard to argue with that. On the other hand: this practice gets out and some people will get annoyed because they feel (rightfully so) that you're (often massively) overcharging them unless they go and haggle about the price. That's great if you run a bazaar business where people go for the experience, but not a feeling your want to instill in regular customers.

If the company must ask questions - ask after I canceled.

> ... and as a business losing $20 a month is better than losing a customer.

This is some serious MBA-speak right here. Losing $20 a month is worse than losing a customer. The only time there's a difference is when you're looking to capture enough market in an unsustainable way so that you can paint a good picture for someone dumb enough to acquire you to try to shut down competition.

If you're well-capitalized, then this is just a straightforward monopolization tactic; if you're not well-funded, this is just gaming the numbers so that a well-capitalized monopolist can come in and use you to play the same game.

If you're a company that is trying to be successful and make money, then you're better off using this as a signal about your pricing.

> This is some serious MBA-speak right here. Losing $20 a month is worse than losing a customer.

I don't think the GP meant the classic "lose money on each sale but make it up on volume" nonsense, but rather "it is better to forgo $20 of your margin than to lose a customer".

I think your read is more accurate than mine. To be honest, the article gave me a bit of indigestion because these sorts of discounting antics always sit poorly with me. I don't have the time or energy to haggle over pricing; and it really bothers me when squeaky wheels get all the grease.

> you're better off using this as a signal about your pricing.

What kind of signal do you have in mind?

It suggests some customers are willing to pay a lower price than other customers. That's not really a surprise, but the numbers are data.

So is the signal that you should lower your price for everyone to something in between, depriving some customers of a service in their happy price range, so that you end up with lower revenue and lose a few more customers as well, but at least you keep a reputation for consistency?

Agreed, I'm tired of cancellation pages filled with dark patterns, pleas upon pleas to not cancel, and forcing me to provide justification for my actions.

Totally agreed! Our goal is to make the cancelling process smooth and easy, while also helping companies retain users who are leaving for preventable issues like price sensitivity. Another great use case is offering a free month or two for someone cancelling due to the current pandemic, hoping they'll be able to afford it again once business picks back up.

>Totally agreed!

Not to be too much of a jerk about it, but you clearly don't agree. Hard to tell exactly without a end to end demo but it looks like it's at least a couple questions and making sure you click the right button to cancel. And you have to be careful what you click because you swap the "success" button from cancel to accept offer. That's not the same as "just let people cancel".

I'm sure it makes sense from a business perspective. Forcing people to go through a couple questions and click off some offers will increase retention. It's not a big deal. Businesses do lots of things that are annoying to customers because ultimately it makes them more money. Just own that this is what you're doing.

Coming from a SaaS background on the product design and development side of things, I think churn is something many companies have given up on successfully remedying within the product, or have sourced to other departments in the company to help solve the issue. While user interaction with Customer Success or Support is definitely necessary in many circumstances, from my perspective, this could help battle churn for a myriad of reasons which can be addressed and designed for a specific product or with a specific user type in mind without being too abrasive or causing major headaches for the user. Cool idea. Good luck!

Ive definitely noticed that one of the biggest inhibitors of growth in SaaS companies I've worked with is just letting high amounts of unnecessary churn happen, or throwing way too many resources at the problem only to reduce it by a small among. Giving your customers the tools to prevent themselves from churning seems like no-brainer and a very strong way to combatting that.

Yeah, that's exactly what we were seeing. Retention with customer success programs is helpful, but many small companies just don't have the resources for it. We're hoping to provide something that can make an impactful dent on churn in an almost entirely automated way.

This is a good idea. It seems like it would help eliminate a lot of the inherent guesswork in feature forecasting (as I've experienced it). "We have lost x amount in annual recurring revenue due to the absence of feature y..." It could also provide valuable insight into how well your product is serving different markets.

Love the idea. Churn reduction is one of those unsexy parts of the funnel (much like cart abandonment) that has a huge ROI but is traditionally neglected because it's not as visible as top of funnel work. Of course, it's all part of the same flywheel, which is why tools like this are so valuable.

Great launch! This looks similar to www.raaft.io which has been around for a couple of years and supports Recurly in addition to Stripe. How do you differentiate?

I think we would have used something like this (instead of rolling our own) if it integrated with Chargify.

Thanks! I think the main differentiator is our deep integration with your Stripe data. The cancellation flow is obviously an important part of the equation, but ProsperStack can also give you insights into past cancellations, with the goal of being able to win back subscribers from before you integrated the flow into your app. We also want to make churn analytics a core part of the value prop.

We'd love to integrate with more payment providers, and Chargify is definitely on the list. If you'd be interested in helping us get a Chargify integration going, I'd love if you'd send me an email (address in profile)!

Could you help us understand a few things about your service? How deep is this "deep integration"? When we sign up with you, what are we agreeing to hand over and/or to give you access to? Do you make copies of this data? Do you sell data about our Stripe data to others? Are you training your ML models based on our data? Do you have measures in place to detect or prevent internal leaks of such data and external exfiltration (via security attacks, for e.g.) of such data?

We request read/write access to Stripe via Stripe Connect in order to receive webhooks on your behalf and to create coupons. We do copy a small amount of data (customer and subscription details for cancellations) for the reporting and metrics features.

We do not and never will sell your Stripe data. We're not using any ML, so we're not training any models on your data.

We understand having access to your Stripe account comes with a lot of responsibility, and we're taking that seriously. I'd be more than happy to discuss security if you want to shoot me an email (address in profile).

Are you eating your own dogfood?

If I sign up for a month then quit, what will it then cost me?

We are dogfooding the cancellation flow, of course. We don't have any offers active since we kind of assumed people would know to look for them. :)

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