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Bettering consumers’ digital subscription journeys – Why we invested in Fleek?

By Adithya Bharadwaj
Sep 08, 2021
4 min read

About 20 years back, a person growing up in urban India subscribed for three things at best: milk, newspaper, and television (cable TV). Today, subscriptions are everywhere – media, cars, coffees, shaving kits, hygiene products and even groceries. For the businesses, a customer who can subscribe is gives them the much-coveted ‘visibility’ and ‘predictability’ of revenues.

Consumers have become accustomed to convenience as an experience. They expect to be able to access movies, TV, and music on demand. Many consumers want transportation, whether it’s a car or bicycle, to be available as needed, without onerous upfront costs. Many consumers want clothing and groceries delivered to their home regularly, and customized to their specifications

Let’s take media and OTT for instance: Globally, Subscription Video on Market (SVoD) market alone was valued at USD 24Billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 34Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 5% from 2020 to 2027.

India’s media subscription revenues are projected to reach USD 13billion in 2023 from USD 9billion in 2020. The Indian SVOD market, with OTT video subscriptions, reached about 62 million video subscribers in 2020 from 32 million in 2019. In the music industry, it is estimated that India will have about 5 million subscribers by 2023. With rising demand for content and affordable subscription packages, OTT video services market (video-on-demand and live) in India is likely to post a CAGR of 29.52% to reach US$ 5.12 billion by FY26, driven by rapid developments in online platforms and increased demand for quality content among users.

An average US consumer had about 12 subscriptions while the same number stood at 5 for an Indian consumer as of 2020.

With the trend of subscriptions catching up, owning stuff is seeing the commencement of its end. For all the upheaval wrought by COVID-19, one thing the pandemic has not altered is the momentum we’re seeing from ownership toward usership. A new, fully digital society is emerging. Everywhere you look – from ecommerce, to connected cars and transportation, to smart medicine and reader-driven news – the world of business is becoming defined by relationships instead of products.

That means, subscription requires immense amount of commitment from a customer while he is about to take a decision. But customers aren’t fully ready yet. After all, it’s caveat emptor!

The digital identities and payments industry is built for an era before subscriptions became a thing. It is built for a singular transaction that happens on an ad hoc manner which are mostly irreversible. Which means, there are three major challenges for a customer.

Lack of control & traceability – With subscriptions seeing significant growth, customers are left to handle them all individually. This means they lose track of subscriptions that are live and face enormous challenge to unsubscribe. In fact, the optionality to unsubscribe is kept cumbersome fearing the churn.

Lack of seamlessness – Since payment gateways are built individually into each website, customers end up managing multiple payment methods across multiple platforms and enters the same details in multiple places.

Lack of choice – subscription businesses today are left with the choice of making customers to either buy or flee (binary choices) akin to how it was in the non-subscription world. There is no optionality to pick and choose tailor-made which means that the customers lose choice and businesses lose revenues.

Solving for these challenges would also mean better customer experience, lesser churn and discoverability for new subscriptions.

Aditya Uttaravalli was part of team that built Swiggy’s Supr and Arvind Eashwar had run a fitness subscription business himself – there are very few who have understood these problems better.

Amongst many start-ups trying to solve for digital payments, identities and better CX for subscription business through products like single-click checkout, micro-subscriptions and subscription platforms, Fleek’s founding team had an exceptional ability to articulate the problem and see through the product roadmap on T-0 – this was a big plus. 

Within a span of two months, Fleek’s team has been able to go live with their subscription management tool. This has garnered a waitlist exceeding 20K users.

Conversations with multiple brands for deep integrations are underway as I write this. New digital-first brands have been onboarded as the marketplace is getting built.

We believe that businesses will design their offerings focussing on consumer convenience, flexibility, and freedom. Transactions will not occur solely by creating products to be sold as one-time transactions but will be aimed at designing services that customers can tap into anytime, anywhere and at any quantum.

Fleek will evolve to be an enabler for individuals to manage and control digital identities and payments eliminating complexity arising out of choice. For businesses, Fleek will enable transition into the subscription world.

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