Subscription services are among the few industries that have not only survived but also thrived during the pandemic as consumers have sought to entertain themselves from home and receive goods at their doorsteps rather than venture out to stores.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers have also done well as cash-strapped businesses look for ways to reduce upfront capital costs and as many in the workforce are telecommuting and requiring their in-office software at home.
These solutions providers have not been bulletproof to the pandemic’s effects, however, and have had their fair share of obstacles to sort out. London-based ProQuo AI is one SaaS subscription provider that has experienced these ups and downs. Founder and CEO Nadim Sadek said he had no idea that just months after the company raised $2.7 million in a January funding round, the world would be battling a pandemic and companies would be hunkering down.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Sadek detailed how the subscription-based brand management software provider has both benefited and suffered from the pandemic’s impacts as well as how the company is strategizing to move forward.
Preventing Pandemic-Related Churn
ProQuo AI believes in the effectiveness of offering a 14-day free trial, during which the company engages heavily with potential customers to quickly establish their goals and determine whether the platform will work for them. Offering trials can be costly for providers, but this rigorous vetting strategy has helped ProQuo AI keep its churn levels down.
Some of the turnover the company has had, however, has been pandemic-related, Sadek said, such as losing some retail clients and a karaoke chain that can no longer safely hold indoor gatherings.
“I think we’ve benefited from COVID-19 and we’ve suffered a bit from COVID-19,” he said. “The suffering has been restricted budgets, unease, uncertainty [and] people unprepared to commit to new things when they’re just trying to sustain and stay alive. On the other hand, it’s time to innovate, time to change … and move to a completely digital experience.”
How Comfort Drives Uptake
ProQuo AI’s subscriptions start at $600 per month, and its brand management platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) and intellectual property (IP) to accelerate small businesses’ growth by measuring brands against 16 components and fabricating what it calls an effective scientific strategy that can be used daily. AI and IP are combined to let users know where their brands stand with the competition and the steps needed to optimize them for success. The platform essentially offers brand managers live views into their marketing campaigns’ effectiveness, along with actionable insights.
“If you do the arithmetic properly, it ends up that as a brand manager, you are faced with 25 million alternative combinations of choices you could make during the course of the year,” Sadek said. “That is beyond the capability of the human brain … and that’s exactly the kind of fertile territory into which AI should be placed.”
The concept is to analyze what is causing one brand to succeed over another and deliver the guidance on what users need to make the most of their brands, he said, making it a potentially useful tool for companies undergoing a turbulent year.
Some of ProQuo AI’s customers include international online dating service OkCupid, video-hosting service Flickr and jewelry brand Kendra Scott. Sadek said he believes the company has been aided by the public’s increasing familiarity with subscription services.
“There is an increasing comfort with subscription,” he said. “There’s an acceptance of a standardized product that is a tremendously good value that really does the job that you buy [it] to do.”
The company’s overall subscription strategy — during a pandemic or not — is based on adding as much value as possible, according to Sadek.
“The best subscription strategy is to make something that is irresistible [so] that people don’t care what it costs,” he said.
Subscriptions are no doubt here to stay, despite pandemic-induced economic uncertainties, as they have proven to be a game-changer for how companies do business. Subscription-based SaaS providers such as ProQuo AI help firms save time and money so they can focus on having a successful 2021.