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Show HN: We built a simple way to accept payments through Stripe (gethelium.com)
109 points by nick007 on Nov 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 79 comments

The payment UI looks unfamiliar and slightly confusing.

* Why are the labels _inside_ the input field? It's surprising when you can edit _some_ text in a well but not all of it.

* Why is my email address under billing?

* Why is the CVC field on a different row?

* Email, name, and street address fields will contain long data. Neither my street address or email address will probably fit in there.

* Why is the year only two digits? Y2K led me to believe two-digit years means accidental ICBM lanches.

Also, I spent fifteen seconds wondering why I couldn't flip the switches underneath "Effortless for everyone" on https://gethelium.com/. I even tried dragging the switch nub left and right.

I hope this helps. This looks like a really useful service. I'd love to look at the integration documentation (if there is any).

Why is my email address under billing?

Does it really matter much? It seems like a logical-enough section to place that field under. I can't think of use-cases where a user would be confused about this unless the company using this tool has primed them to think in certain way about Billing. For example, a company that says "we will never email you billing information" can have its users confused. But that is a made up use-case that is uncommon at best.

Why is the CVC field on a different row?

Again, your question makes it sound like there is a well-accepted standard that it should be on the same row. As an online shopper, I am used to finding the CVC field under the CC field and it has never bothered me.

Why is the year only two digits? Y2K led me to believe two-digit years means accidental ICBM lanches.

That could be because most credit cards list two digits instead of four. And if you have made a payment over phone, it is standard to say something like "0614"(instead of June 2014) when asked for expiration.

Just curious - When you mentioned payment over phone, do you mean via SMS? I'm not familiar with that 4-digit MMYY pattern, I've always been prompted for month & year as separate fields.

I meant payment over a phone call when the rep asks "what's the expiration on your card?" and I go "0814" etc.

Ah, gotcha. Thanks for clarifying. :)

I also spent several seconds wondering why I couldn't flip the switches. Especially since they are partially interactive.

> * Why is my email address under billing?

Probably because Stripe uses it. Doesn't necessarily mean the UX should follow.

> * Why is the year only two digits? Y2K led me to believe two-digit years means accidental ICBM lanches.

Because it's like that on most cards and the idea is to match what people are looking at on their card as closely as possible.

It does seem to need a little polish, but I don't think the form layout is the _most_ important thing for them right now. It's certainly _an_ important thing.

> Why is the year only two digits? Y2K led me to believe two-digit years means accidental ICBM lanches.

On long term things yes it's questionable. But credit cards all expire within a short date period so it's not a concern.

My card displays the expiration date as "GOOD THRU MM/YY".

You're asking me to connect my stripe account to your site, and give you 2% of my money and you won't even give me your first name? All of your info is anonymized and your domain who.is don't have real contact info, nor your Quora or twitter accounts...

I immediately thought you were a scammer.


You know what pisses me off the most about a site like this? Where is your contact info? Demo? Screenshots? Samples? Names? Email? About? Who the hell are you? You provide no names, no contact info, just an overly minimal site that links to another even less informative site with no names. And I see this so often that it infuriates me. It breaks the basic most fundamental rule of the web which is, Trust and Authenticity. AKA Credibility.

http://who.is/whois/freshplum.com Even your WHO.IS info for your domain is anonymous. The only idea I have that you're not a scammer is that your HN account nick007 is 1000+ days old. And your first name might be nick and you might be a part of Ycombinator's summer 2011 class. Your clients aren't going to play the clicking game like I just did to try to find out if you're a scammer or not.

https://twitter.com/freshplum: Here's your twitter, again no names.

http://www.quora.com/Freshplum: And your Quora, again no names. Just "a pricing company".

I know I'm comming off as an asshole critic (the kind HN needs less of) but, WTF man. I had to dig your names out from the bottom of your press release. The one document on all your sites that actually tells me something.

Who is spreading this philosophy of 1 page anonymous sites that ask you for credentials?

Here's a one page website I made. http://www.timeforzen.com. All it does is stream free creative commons songs. I'm not even selling anything and I still have an about page and contact info.


(Also for those of you who are saying 5% is too high, don't forget ebay and amazon fees add up to 11%-20%. Amazon is so expensive that I can't afford to sell my calendars on its site. And Gumroad allows you to sell links to digital content by charging 5% as well. So it's normal.)

Hi Chris -

I'm sorry you feel this way. I agree that HN needs less vitriol like this, but I can understand where you're coming from.

Expect an 'about page' at some point in the near future. In the meantime here are a few links that might help you learn more about the company, the team, and the product (I found most of them by googling "Freshplum" and "gethelium"):

* https://angel.co/freshplum

* http://www.crunchbase.com/company/freshplum

* http://www.linkedin.com/search/fpsearch?keywords=freshplum

* http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/11/01/freshplum-launches-...

* http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/01/freshplum-goes-after-small-...

* Demo: http://sam.odio.com/2012/10/31/buy-me-beer/

* http://allthingsd.com/20110621/sam-odio-i-left-facebook-to-r...

And, if there's any more information you'd like before signing up, there's always email. Our addresses are in our profiles.

Now that I've calmed down, I have to say I'm so sorry for my rude rant. I don't know what triggered it but honestly my heart rate literally increased when I saw you didn't have a single name, a single email address, no contact info at all on GetHelium. I've never been that passionately angry before over a website. Maybe I'm overly-obsessed and need a break from design. Maybe I lost my life-savings to a con artist in a former life, I don't know.

I signed up and was about to connect my Stripe account when I realized it. I felt like I was being played. Who were these guys? Are they for real? Can I trust them? I automatically assumed I could because their site's on HN and got upvoted. And a flood of hormones and emotions came in, I felt weak, powerless to judge, unable to trust, unable to ask, confused, angry. All such negative emotions caused by a website without contact info.

Contact info is my #1 pet peeve in all of designdom.

You don't even need a seperate about page, just a picture of you guys at the bottom in the footer, with your names and email addresses.

Credibility and trust is more important than Usability, Pricing, Design, and everything else. NOTHING is more important. That's why so many sites have pictures of the owner, its workers, testimonials, links to Tech Crunch and the New York Times articles about them. Anything to build trust and say, "We're not going to run off with your money."

- Bad design is forgivable, you might not have had the time or budget. Lots of sites with terrible design still get money and customers.

- Bad UI is also forgivable, you might have bad taste. Lots of websites with terrible and confusing UI still sell, solve problems, and make money.

- Hiding contact info while asking for money has no excuse. It's deceptive. It's something thieves do. So credibility is the #1 most important thing.

Chris, it was not our intention to hide any contact information, but I agree that we could have done a better job of surfacing information about us. We did simplify the content of our public pages in the interest of moving quickly, but we will be addressing this shortcoming soon.

FWIW, the contact email address for our product, support@gethelium.com, can be found in the Helium management dashboard. Hopefully this addresses your concerns.

> don't forget ebay and amazon fees add up to 11%-20%

True, but comparing Helium with eBay and Amazon is like comparing apples to oranges. Both Amazon and eBay are marketplaces where you get visibility from buyers other than just payment processing. Helium should be compared to more the likes of Shopify (integrates Stripe), Volusion and BigCommerce.

Also... Stripe is easy enough! I've implemented it a couple of times, and it only takes a few hours. No way I'd pass up 2% to spare a few hours.

Hey Chris,

I found a bit more information on the co-founders on the Fresh Plum press release page. https://freshplum.com/pr/freshplum

*Please don't shoot the messenger (me) :)

Yeah, I already mentioned above I finally found their names at the bottom of their press release on their company's website. Poor guy, I'm sorry I'm usually not like this, this is just my #1 pet peeve.

A few comments are making an issue of the pricing (2% + Stripe's 2.9%) saying it's too high. It's not too high. If the product does it's job and makes it dead simple for the end user it might even be too low. As mentioned by someone else, the HN crowd likely isn't the target audience.

Fast Spring, which did 44.5 million in rev in 2011, charges 5.9% plus $.95 or 8.9% flat per order (user chooses which). Granted, Fast Spring may be more of a total ecommerce solution, but the point isn't +2%. It's who is the end user and how much easier does this product make their life/business.

The opinion of it being too high, is a perfectly respectable opinion given that there are free and one-time fee wordpress plugins that handle this integration.

Here's a question about Helium. The premise is that for 2% any site could be made an eCommerce store, making total transaction fees around 5% for a dead-simple solution. This is great for anyone without the technical knowledge or desire to code their own solution in. What happens when the site gets successful? At what point is it worth it for the site owner to pay someone to build a more cost-effective solution? 2% for $1,000/month is only $20, but if the site gets much larger, you lose a customer.

I guess the strange fact is that the more successful your clients are, the more likely they are to leave. How will Helium deal with this?

We're developing a suite of "enterprise" e-commerce tools under the Freshplum brand, so presumably we'd up-sell the retailer to those.

Are ecommerce plays on Stripe the most opportune ideas right now? http://jfornear.co/monetizing-the-stripe-enabled-world-wide-...

Good point, I think the standard pricing of "discount rates for greater sales" would naturally address this.

I really like the clouds in front of the airship! The movement is very subtle, which gives the design a refined feeling. Totally the kind of detail that could be overdone and become distracting, but I think you guys nailed it.

Curious - as someone totally ignorant to the nuances of Stripe - why doesn't Stripe offer a very simple, OOB checkout solution?

What would prevent them from doing so, which in theory could be a nice additional revenue stream for them (stealing [a part of] your 2% away)?

Stripe so far has been really developer focused and so they've really targeted themselves towards that audience (home page, docs, marketing, etc.), unlike PayPal which is more consumer friendly. I think there's a lot of baggage that comes with being a consumer facing brand that Stripe doesn't have to deal with, at least not yet. That said, there isn't anything preventing them from doing so; it's definitely a risk for Stripe-based businesses like this, but Stripe could always just acquire or acqui-hire whoever does the best job.

The Stripe Button is a step in this direction: https://stripe.com/docs/button

I think this is very risky since stripe could easily put them out of business by providing the same thing and for no additional cost.

Honestly, this feels like the sort of thing they were putting in contract work anyway, and just decided to change into a service since they had it anyway...

I've been following you guys for a while, and really love your sense of design.

As for the product, is this a direct competitor to Gumroad?

I don't understand why you need to charge with pricing-per-transaction. This seems like something you'd pay monthly for, no? I'd be curious to know why you decided not to do a subscription plan.

I run my lady's dog treat site. Arrfscarf.com

We have been trying to find a great solution for web ordering. We sell doggie ice cream. We currently sell retail in Chicago. Have a couple of stores in New York that are interested in carrying our product.

We want a simple solution for our online ordering. First, we need to test and see if people are willing to order dog ice cream online.

This looks like a good solution for us to try. I will implement this later today. I will likely give some feedback.

very cool.. the Odio family always up to big things :) love the simplicity + the design + the use-case. releasing this as a wordpress plugin would be killer - the entire shopping cart space is very muggle-unfriendly. that said, you're going to have to do alot of volume to make 2% worth your time - payments are coolest when tied to a marketplace, but your diff advantage is to not be a marketplace. you're going to have a tough time recouping the $$ you'll have to spend to gain the mass-market mindshare you'd want to drive that kind of volume. at the same time if the business turns out to be the bees knees, big guys will be quick to copy and out-spend you in marketing, while small guys (eg ribbon, gumroad) can quickly add "embedding" as a feature. i love the product (and the name!!), it's just a tough slog to "be the next PayPal" these days. quick feedback: your "effortless for everyone" is exceptionally well done, i would move it above the more standard 3 column descriptors.

i just saw freshplum- if you did helium as a way to <ahem> get freshplum into the air and with quick notoriety.. then i take back everything about being the next paypal - you did exactly the right thing. also i agree with others - bundle your pricing and state one clear %.

We believe Helium's target audience isn't the HN community, but it'd be good to get your thoughts about it anyways.

It's basically an easy way to add a shopping cart and check-out flow to a website. Think of the small business that's not tech-savvy but wants to sell a few products (or a service) on their site.

Design was by Michael Yuan, the same designer that designed Divvyshot.

It looks really nice! Does this position itself in the same space as google checkout was in?

Can I ask what you guys are using for the mouse-based signature feature? Is it something off the shelf or did you guys write it yourself?

FWIW, I think it is potentially a very viable product if you can find and effectively market to the proper niche (which obviously is not the HN crowd). Good luck!

It uses the HTML5 canvas element... there's not that much too it actually. We're still playing around with it to see how to best use it.

You need to state your pricing structure clearly. Saying that you charge 2% over what Stripe charges makes it seem like you are hiding the total cost of transactions. Using Helium would cost people 4.5% plus 25 cents, am I right?

I also see that you are testing the response from HN. Well done. But the landing page for HN and regular visitors are the same. Why not run some quick tests with all the traffic?

You might have branding issues with the project Blimp (getblimp.com). The founders are really cool guys, but do chat with them about it.

The design is top-notch, though a button or link that scrolls down to the area with more information should be tested. Right now, the first impression you get is that this is an empty landing page.

A demo would also be nice.

Regarding pricing: We talked about the wording internally. It was decided that different people pay different stripe fees (eg volume discounts) and stripe may change their fees in the future w/o notice, so it's best to simply state what we charge. I've added a link to Stripe's pricing page to make things a little more clear.

Regarding the demo: we're planning on adding one to the home page. Until then I added the button to my blog: http://sam.odio.com/2012/10/31/buy-me-beer/

I'd be loath to put my credit card info there since it's on an HTTP (not HTTPS) page. How is this remotely secure?

The page itself is loaded via HTTP, but all credit card information is transferred to Stripe & Helium via HTTPS. Again, with Helium, no payment information actually needs to hit your servers (Sam's blog, in this case).

I think this is a valid concern. IIRC such payment-related Javascript code should only be included in https:// context as other script code might interact with the payment form.

It's actually against the stripe Terms of Service to use live mode keys on a non-https site.

but if your target audience is the long-tail (especially folks without websites), odds are a good proportion of them won't even know what Stripe is..

Considering they link to Stripe's pricing page right there it should be ok.

You could always just put it in the first go, then if you get any traffic, replace it with a more efficient option. Most people never get enough traffic for percent cuts to matter anyway.

I have something similar going at https://www.bngal.com

Your homepage design is definitely better but it would be really nice to see a demo, screenshots, or a video somewhere.

Also, do you think you'll have problems with integration once you go beyond hackers who know how to paste embed code into their site?

I like how your page tries to answer all questions of the potential customer right on the frontpage. First a clear value proposition, then some features, then the target customer ("where can I find myself?") and a short Q/A at the bottom.

May I ask how you created the responsive design for this page (fluid layout + mobile navbar)? I noticed some backbone.js in the script code, but I have no clue in how far you have used a CSS framework like e.g. Twitter Bootstrap.

All the responsive stuff just comes from twitter bootstrap.

Backbone is used when creating a page–mainly because we have certain attributes and form fields that only apply to certain pages.

So is your target customer is very small transaction web sellers? Because 4.9% + 30c per transaction is extremely high. That's 2.9% + 30c from stripe and 2% from you.


If you're selling in any kind of volume, something like shopify would be a no brainer over this.

I would definitely consider capping the pricing structure. Something like 2% of the first $10k transasctions, and 0.5% thereafter. That or just have an introductory tier that's based on % of transactions, and higher level tiers that are monthly fees. The percentage fee is very attractive for small merchants who just want to try something out, but obviously loses its upside if your experiment works out.

good idea and encourages the seller to hustle. ;)

This is going to sound snarky, but isn't Stripe a simple way to accept payments through Stripe?

A little like https://spacebox.io/ too.

It seems like a good idea, but I think 2% additional per transaction is a tough sell.

Agreed, 2% likely isn't end state and we plan on searching in the space below it.

It's easier to drop the price (or give volume discounts) than raise it.

About freshplum: "We bring the decision-making power of data science to businesses that sell goods and services electronically."

This is a long sentence. How about "We bring powerful data analytics to online sales"?

Is there a demo anywhere?

We're planning to add a demo to the home page. Until then I created a demo on my blog: http://sam.odio.com/2012/10/31/buy-me-beer/

I would really strongly encourage y'all to put this demo on your main home page. Maybe auto populated with fake values and a cute little 'demo' warning.

Also the toggle buttons on the home page don't seem to work.

Exactly what I was looking for, thanks! This looks great.

That's a really nice demo!

Here's something I need which I would pay 2% for right now - the ability to email someone an invoice. I'm stuck with PayPal, which I hate.

I don't know what your requirements are (U.S. versus Foreign, etc.), but WePay has a nice email invoice solution:


Interestingly enough, I'm just finishing up an email invoicing system that I'm planning on open sourcing. It integrates the Stripe button and can be hosted on Heroku.

I'll shoot you an email when it's up on github if you're interested.

I'd be interested. Could you email me too?

Will do!

Hi David, that feature is on our list of things to add soon. If you shoot me an email I'll let you know when we have something for you.

I use dwolla. It charges only $0.25 per transaction.

So for an invoice of $8000.00 I pay only $0.25 in transaction fee.

you don't use any accounting/bookkeeping software? freshbooks, xero, etc?

Zoho invoicing works.

Design-wise, it looks fantastic. Can I ask why there is absolutely no branding on the login page (or the TOS)?

Nice job! Are there plans to support mobile browsers? Works great on iPad, but not iPhone at the moment.

Far too much like spacebox.io for me.

Beautifully presented, wow.

Do sellers need to have an account with Stripe ?

How do you handle chargebacks ?

Homepage seems like not tested in IE 9-10

That page is just beautiful. Well done.

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