Signal founder looks to simplify subscription tracking with Bright

Written by James Risley
Published on Jul. 08, 2016
Signal founder looks to simplify subscription tracking with Bright

The rise of subscription services shows no sign of slowing down. There’s Netflix for your entertainment, Google Drive for your cloud storage and even Blue Bottle for your coffee. And with Apple’s push to make subscriptions even easier (and more profitable) for developers, a new wave of subscription-based companies are likely coming soon.

However, while the recurring revenue stream can be nice, tracking things like customer retention and monthly revenue with tools created in-house can be tough. Bright, part of this year’s Techstars Chicago class, hooks into revenue systems to provide analytics on some of the most important metrics for software-as-a-service companies.

“We ingest all of the core revenue data to build a picture of metrics like monthly recurring revenue, lifetime value and churn,” said founder and CEO Jeff Judge. “These are all really important metrics to look at as a SaaS company because they're sort of the lifeblood of your company.”

Judge founded the company after his previous company, Signal, was acquired by BrightTag (which subsequently adopted the Signal name). At Signal, he was used to to sending progress reports out to his whole team, but those weren’t telling the full story.

“We hit a stumbling point where we lost a couple big customers and it was at that point where we started to really dig into ... our metrics,” Judge said.

The company built an internal metrics dashboard and was stunned by the results.

“We were growing slower than we thought and we were losing customers faster than we thought,” said Judge.

Bright aims to ensure other companies don’t fall into that trap. Big firms like Salesforce.com or Dropbox may be able to build strong internal tools and even dedicate teams to monthly revenue tracking, but smaller companies are often stuck using a mess of spreadsheets and subpar analytics provided by billing companies.

“The billing systems do a great job billing, but they universally have poor analytics,” Judge said. “You can figure out how your acquisition channels are performing now from things like Google Analytics, but it's hard to tie that to revenue. Bright helps you solve that problem.”

Bright pulls data from sources like Stripe, Chargify and Recurly for tracking monthly recurring revenue, and plans to spend some of its time at Techstars on building out a system to capture customer acquisition numbers as well, helping clients determine the cost of finding new users and the quality of those users over time.

Judge started building Bright full time almost a year ago, working out of 1871 before joining up with Techstars. Until the first day of the program, he was working on Bright alone. Now he has a second engineer and hopes to raise money in part to bring on more employees. But he’s also found other useful lessons.

“It's a lot around making sure that you're intellectually honest ... and that you're committed to growth,” Judge said. “We're just in week two, but the program has been really great so far.”

Images via Bright.

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