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Build or buy: Ubindi saves thousands of dollars a year by not re-inventing the wheel

After his stints as an experimental physicist and a professor, Alex Klein founded a startup that focused on alternate energy and kickstarted his entrepreneurial journey. Then in 2012, Klein co-founded Yogatrial, an extensive online community for yoga teachers and learners. His experience with Yogatrial showed Klein how much the community needed a platform to take the administrative burden off of not just yoga instructors but all teachers.

Launched in 2020, Ubindi is a platform for teachers and instructors of any vertical—yoga, fitness, music, arts and crafts, language, and more—to manage their administrative tasks effectively. From registration and fee collection to attendance and email campaigns, Ubindi does everything for its users so they can focus on what they love: teaching. Within the first year of their launch, Ubindi has won the hearts and minds of users not just in their home ground, the US, but across the globe in India, UK, Australia, Canada, and more.

During the initial days of Ubindi, Klein started looking for software to manage their billing and other operations. During this hunt, he came across payment gateways with subscription billing capabilities and revenue dashboards. But, he felt that relying on a payment facilitator for both billing and payment collection might leave their team with less or no alternates during lockouts and downtime. So he wanted to make sure they had a system that allowed them to have control without having to re-build everything if things go south.

In addition, given his years of experience as an entrepreneur, Klein would not settle for any billing software.

I've had first-hand experience using 20 different software applications from various vendors to run our business—one for spreadsheets, one to manage documents, one for emails, and then a completely different system for our revenue and SaaS dashboards. It just doesn't work.
- Alex Klein, Co-founder at Ubindi

Klein's extensive evaluation led him to Zoho Billing. "Zoho Billing seamlessly connects with Stripe, our payment gateway. But what impressed us even more was its ability to connect with several other payment gateways, allowing us to be much more agile and diverse in terms of payment offerings," he said.

The solution

Ubindi utilizes a classic SaaS billing model with a freemium package and two paid tiers on top of that. Once they decided to use Zoho Billing for their billing processes, the Ubindi team connected their Stripe account, configured webhooks so that their platform would be notified upon key subscription events, and was fully ready to kickstart their billing with Zoho Billing within two days.

Klein's team loves that they can customize every single email that reaches their subscribers. The Single Sign-On (SSO) set up between Zoho Billing' self-service portal and Ubindi's own subscriber portal ensures that their customers can access their billing and payment information securely without having to log in again. "We've branded the self-service portal so that it reflects our brand and theme. This, combined with the Single Sign-On (SSO), paves the way for a smooth experience for our customers throughout," Klein said.

Ubindi cares about its customers along every step of their journey, including the churn phase. Customers waiting in the dark to get their subscription refunded is the last thing Ubindi wants. "We wanted to initiate a pro-rated refund when a cancellation happens. The Zoho Billing team helped us on this with a custom function that does this automatically. This simple automation workflow leaves our customers happy as they don't have to send an email and wait for the refund, plus it saves time for our team because they don't have to manually calculate the amount to be refunded."

The Ubindi team appreciates the assistance from the Zoho Billing' customer success team. "We love that we can approach the Zoho Billing team whenever we have questions. It's relieving to know that there's someone (a human!) willing to respond to our questions personally and ready to call us when necessary," Klein added.

The benefits and ROI

According to Klein, the biggest benefit of choosing Zoho is the well-connected ecosystem. "The apps we were using before, besides costing us hundreds of dollars each month, didn't really work together. That's the beauty of Zoho apps and the reason we chose Zoho— they work so well as a system," he said.

From a subscription billing standpoint, the self-service portal that seamlessly fits in to their UX journey saves them from re-inventing the wheel.

If we were to build something like a self-service portal ourselves, it'd have easily taken two weeks of developer effort, which translates to $2,000. And it still wouldn't be as fully functional as the one Zoho Billing offers. Right there, we saved $2,000! There are a myriad of other areas where Zoho has cut down our costs with zero compromise in efficacy.

The road ahead

Up next, the Ubindi team is planning to implement a peer-to-peer referral program where both the referral and referrer get free credits. They plan to implement this by using APIs to simply create a credit note in Zoho Billing, then those credits could be redeemed for future subscriptions.

Besides Zoho Billing, the Ubindi team uses Zoho Campaigns for email marketing, Zoho Sites for their website, Zoho PageSense for website optimization, Zoho SalesIQ for live chat, Zoho Sign for signing legal contracts, Zoho WorkDrive for document management, Zoho Books for accounting, and Zoho CRM to manage its sales pipelines. Klein is planning to add Zoho Analytics to this list soon.

The answer to "why" that lies beyond the realm of technology

Klein's love and respect for Zoho runs beyond the layers of its tech stack and the contextual flow of information across Ubindi. It extends to Zoho's culture. Zoho's deep-rooted belief in data protection and privacy, its fervent "no-ads whatsoever" policy, and the two-decade long commitment to these beliefs are some of the perspectives that makes Klein a Zoho "fan," as he calls himself.

We're really confident to have our data in Zoho, knowing that this data isn't used by some third-party advertisers across the internet.
Education and Tutoring
United States
Using Zoho Billing since
"The apps we were using before, besides costing us hundreds of dollars each month, didn't really work together. That's the beauty of Zoho apps and the reason we chose Zoho—they work so well as a system."
Alex Klein profile
Alex Klein
Co-founder, Ubindi
Ubindi's favorite features:
Customer portal
Saves weeks of developer effort and offers a fully-functional self-service portal for their customers.
Single Sign-On (SSO) for customer portal
Provides a smooth and seamless customer experience, without compromising security.
Integration with multiple payment gateways
Allows them to be agile and diverse in terms of payment offerings.
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Message from CEO

Zoho is a software company that ships 45+ products globally. Operating on a subscription pricing model for more than 20 years has given us the opportunity to face and overcome the practical pain points of subscription businesses. Let us solve your subscription billing challenges, together.

Sridhar Vembu

CEO, Zoho Corporation

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