Subscription payments

Selling things on the internet is quite easy and there are plenty of way to process credit cards and accept online payments. However subscriptions / recurring payments aren’t easy. They aren’t easy at all. Subscription changes, card failures, multiple subscriptions for a single user (different workbench products in our case) and multiple currency billing make it hard. Dealing with banks 80’s style systems makes it even harder.

When we were first working out how to cope with online payments we found lots of good looking options, all of which were only available to American companies or via paypal. (RecurlyCheddarGetterSpreedly) Eventually we found RBS Worldpay.Worldpay turned out to be too inflexible and far to much effort to set up. The time required was also insane. From the start of our application to ready to get our payments up took 7 months and significant amounts of cash. We gave up on Worldpay when we were trying (hard) to integrate it. Their system for recurring payments is so ill documented and inflexible to be useless. Users appear to require a separate login and password for Worldpay. This is unacceptable. Currently we’re looking into Saasy, from fastspring. They respond fantastically quickly to support request and got our testing site up and approved us in a day. So far it looks great, flexible and easy but I’ll post another blog when we’ve got it all live. I’ll also put some code for the server side part in python using cherrypy up on github, when it’s a bit more polished.


Tech Start Up Business Lessons

Biarri commenced as a commercial maths start up almost two years ago. In this time we have learnt a lot.
We focus hard on deploying optimisation and quantitative analytics in accessible ways to deliver the power of mathematics quickly and cheaply. Our just launched workbench ( is a great example of this – providing monthly low cost rental of powerful maths engines available over a browser.

While we have been building products and models we have also been building a business and have learnt a few things along the way. Below are a few of the business lessons we have learnt growing a tech start up in Australia.

  1. Be in the cloud – because we were delivering our optimisation workbench using the cloud, we sought out cloud services for our internal business needs. Our accounting software, CRM, email and timesheets are all rented from Software as a Service companies. We learnt a lot about what makes a good web app by using these services and we saved a lot of capital cost upfront. Specifically let me say that SAASU ( is a really good accounting system for a small business – much easier to use than MYOB or quicken in my view.
  2. Always push back against one-sided contract terms from big corporates – we find almost always you will get at least what you ask for. In house lawyers and legal departments will always try it on, especially when they are dealing with a small business – push back hard there is always some flex
  3. Not all phone companies are the same – one large Australian telco sells conference calling enabled handsets while their network does not support conference (e.g. 3 way) calling. This is not disclosed up front- we found out when we tried our first conf call. Ask the question, be wary of penguins and remember Skype is your friend.

Hope these few thoughts help. There is more we are learning each day so will stick up some more thoughts soon.