Chessable Pricing Strategy Discussion

By David Kramaley / On / In Start-up life

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Hi everyone, the launch of 100 Endgames Video brought a lot of community interaction and amazing feedback our way. Many of you absolutely love the new video course and how accessible John makes the material. This course took an incredible amount of work from John and the rest of the team and we truly thank you for all the support.

With all of the wonderful comments, the course also sparked a few conversations around pricing. Some have suggested that the price is above other video courses in the market. Others have asked us to shed some light on our pricing strategy. We’ve always been as transparent as possible, so we are happy to offer some insight from our team.

For background, we at Chessable have a goal of trying to create the gold standard of content while allowing chess students to improve in a more efficient and fun way. We also want to help more chess professionals to make a living out of the game that we all love. We are proud that Chessable has just crossed 100,000 registered users, and that we have managed to bring back top talent to chess, having hundreds of independent authors and publishers on our platform.

The challenge is that a lot of chess is completely free. Hence the market that is ready to pay anything at all is smaller than it should/could be. For a long time, people working in chess, other than the top 10, spent their whole life perfecting their craft only to be severely underpaid. With this, chess has to overcome certain challenges. For instance, how do you hire people away from competitive industries where they can receive 1.5x-4x the salary a chess company can pay?

High quality standards take a lot of time and resources. It takes months of work by top chess professionals. There are also dedicated teams of people at Chessable that provide feedback, edit, post-produce the content and provide after-service support. This process ensures that we can add value to our customer base who purchase the products. This also means we can confidently offer a 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee.

With major works like 100 Endgames Video, which took hundreds of hours of collective labor to produce, and was years in the planning, the extra effort is magnified. In such a project, there are many stakeholders, lawyers, production teams, content teams, rights owners, etc. If not priced right, such popular courses may not get created in the first place. The right price often just covers salaries and costs. Forget profits.

We also release plenty of free material. 100+ free courses to be more precise. There also always is the option to get only the MoveTrainer course and buy additional video content later or not at all. However, everything that we release, whether free or not, we try to maintain a very high quality standard.

On the technology side, it can be costly to develop code, especially code that deals with people’s copyrighted work and livelihoods. With regards to R&D updates, we realise not much has been visible lately. This is because the majority of the team is stuck in trying to complete the full rewrite to MoveTrainer 2.0. We are very very close to release. Many beta testers will be happy to attest, the amount of work that the team has been doing there. 2.0 will allow for iOS and Android apps to be released.

We would love to make cheaper prices happen today, however, the reality is that cheaper prices come with bigger market sizes and scale. All included subscriptions are often not enough, especially at small scale. In fact, technology often initially increases the price of goods, until economies of scale have been reached.

Chessable has never turned a profit yet, as part of our reinvestment strategy for growth. Despite that, thanks to our pricing, we have sustained a community of hundreds of people between part-time and full-time, so that they can do what they love without struggling for income.

Finally, I’ve seen companies go under or really struggle because they didn’t price things right. We don’t want to follow suit. We are here to stay. But here is a promise, if we can reach scale, we will, of course, pass some of the savings of scale to our customers.

I hope this helps shed some clarity into our line of thinking and thank you for all your comments. Here is a link to a forum thread where we can discuss more.

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