100ms is a New York based video infrastructure startup that delivers real-time, audio-video interactive experiences on any web platform or mobile app.
100ms is committed to enabling any business to create better virtual experiences. The platform essentially brought together video conferencing and live streaming together in a single platform serving several industries with a variety of use cases. Every customer could choose their specifications - video or audio, with or without streaming, session time, number of participants and viewers, the definition of quality, etc.
100ms’ complexity challenge
Customization was central to their business model. Supporting this customization and flexibility however, was far from easy.
All of the features and their metrics had to be metered separately and accurately, and had different rates depending on the package. Accounts also allowed for multiple users with different usages tied to a single contract. The invoicing had to check the pricing of the contracts against the usage metrics. 100ms supported a three tier pricing - a free version, volume pricing and custom pricing. Their free units followed a waterfall model, with free units increasing as consumption increased.
100ms also had startups credits to nurture new growing businesses. The team was handling the credit usage on spreadsheets and communicating with customers manually to upgrade as and when necessary.
Configuring this into pricing models, contracts and invoicing was beginning to become a headache for the team.
The engineering team redirected significant hours to managing the billing system. Finance team spent hours of manual effort on creating invoices. This often resulted in invoicing errors and underbilling their clients too.
The search for a solution
With their client base growing, 100ms could not rely on manual processes.
The team set out to find a billing system that could configure the flexibility of the pricing system they supported. Their contracts were extremely variable and they also needed to configure more components for custom plans whenever needed. Usage data had to be measured accurately and transferred seamlessly to their invoicing module
As a fast-growing company with an evolving product, it was also extremely important for the leadership to be able to iterate and experiment on their pricing models in the future.
They were using Stripe billing but had begun to explore Chargebee and Zuora as well. But none of the existing billing tools fit their requirements.
After exploring dozens of billing tools in vain, the team resigned to build the core billing system in-house and use a mix of tools to manage their invoicing and accounts receivables. That’s when they found Zenskar.
How Zenskar automated the entire billing process for 100ms
Most legacy billing tools have been built to support subscriptions and have recently expanded to handle simpler usage based pricing models. Zenskar, on the other hand, was built to solve usage based pricing and billing complexity.
Migration and implementation
The transition from Stripe billing to Zenskar was completed within a mere three days. The migration was expedited by Zenskar’s feature that enables bulk upload of customer data.
One crucial part of the migration involved configuring the contracts on the Zenskar platform. The Zenskar team closely collaborated with 100ms to ensure that the contracts were accurately set up in alignment with their business requirements and billing processes.
The usage data was sent by connecting its data sources to start quickly and over time, 100ms transitioned to sending usage data via API.
100ms also integrated Zenskar with Quickbooks for financial management, HubSpot for customer relationship management, and Stripe Payments for payment processing. The successful integration of these tools allowed Zenskar to plug into 100ms’ existing setup without any disruption of workflows.
The entire migration and setup process took a total of 10 days and the 100ms team could not be happier about it.
Automating complex billing
Most billing tools can only handle limited complexity because they are configured with simple logic to handle finite variations. Hence, the only way to handle pricing complexity is through developers coding the intricacies for advanced pricing models.
Zenskar is built to override this limitation. Its graphical data model builds complex pricing models as a series of nodes and connectors to accommodate advanced logic. The visual builder ensures it can all be done through a drag-and-drop editor without requiring any coding.
100ms created complex pricing plans to accommodate for all the variables and value metrics of their pricing. The usage information of all its offerings was fed into Zenskar via API connection and was tied to the respective pricing modules in the plans. The pricing plans were the basis of automating contract creation.
Since the plans were configured for flexibility, customizable parameters allowed non-tech users to further iterate and customize contracts with minimal effort and no code.
Thus Zenskar was able to handle the pricing complexity most tools could not and completely automate the contract creation process, saving the team several hours of additional work every month.
Invoicing and receivables management
Once the contracts and usage data was in place, invoice generation was a breeze.
Every month, invoices were generated automatically from the configured invoice templates based on use cases and payment methods. This reduced the time spent on repetitive efforts, as well as reduced invoicing errors that were prone to occur given 100ms pricing complexity. The team also realized they were underbilling several customers as they missed charging for certain usages when billing manually.
Payment communications via email could also be templatized on Zenskar. The invoice and payment reminder emails sent manually before Zenskar, were automated. Payment confirmation emails were also triggered from the platform once the payment was received.
Reliable usage metrics
100ms was committed to predictable pricing and transparency, but they lacked the infrastructure to offer their clients visibility into usage metrics. After onboarding with Zenskar, they were able to provide granular data such as product usage, free units consumed/remaining, invoice totals, product totals, etc.
This was done in two ways - usage reports and customer portal.
100ms sent its clients usage reports that outlined the usage and invoice line items through the communications module. Its clients could also access Zenskar’s customer portal to check the historic usage data at any point in time.
Zenskar’s ability to map usage to customers meant that the engineering team did not have to spend additional time handling usage, pricing terms or plans of their customers.
In addition to complete automation of the billing operations, Zenskar simplified revenue recognition too.
With the Quickbooks integrations, revenue, receivables and credit liability sub ledgers are populated and updated in real time. The finance team at 100ms’ can access up-to-date data, enabling them to make informed decisions and respond quickly to any financial developments.
The creation of journal entries on Quickbooks through the integration helps the team close their books faster too.
250 hours of grunt work avoided every month
Zenskar’s fully automated billing system was a dream come true for 100ms that took care of billing, metering, accounting and receivable management.
This decreased the manual effort substantially for the entire team. On an average, the finance team of 4 spent about half of their bandwidth doing the tasks Zenskar automated. The estimates Zenskar saves them about 250 hours of grunt work every month.
The team is happier for it since they now spend their time on more strategic and meaningful work instead.
4% increase in revenue
The team realized they had been underbilling their customers as they missed taking into account some of the consumption data during billing. When the billing process got accurate with Zenskar, the team saw their cash flows increase by 4%.
Automation of invoices and the subsequent payment reminders made the receivables process reliable. As a result, the payments flowed in faster and their cash flows increased.
Engineering efforts saved
Moving to a flexible billing system saved the engineering team from hours of effort building an in-house system.
Zenskar completely decouples usage from billing. This meant the team only had to integrate their product with the Zenskar API - adding customers, sending usage data and monitoring usage metrics on the dashboard was handled by Zenskar automatically.
But the real impact for the 100ms team was the problems they never had to face.
Launched 4 months faster
100ms avoided the opportunity cost of having to build a billing system in-house. Not only would it take significant time and engineering bandwidth, it could have also delayed the product launch by months according to their internal estimates. 100ms was able to use the time to build the features that better served their clients.
Zenskar's no-code solution meant that maintaining the billing process could be achieved without engineering support. The team appreciated that it was also a future proof architecture that could be used by non-technical teams.